Franz Josef 11th – 12th.
Hi all, Hope everyone is well.
I have been very busy with activities recently so hence the slight delay in typing up my diary.
On the 11th I started the day with a bit of gold panning in the Whataroa River. I got given a pan full of dirt and mud and sat on a rock in the river rocking my pan backwards and forwards in the hope of finding gold. After 2 pan loads i had the speckles of gold. I also found 3 granite opal stones. They put you gold specks and opal stones into a tiny tube and in a nice pack explaining all about gold. The gold we found is 98% pure gold – the purest in the world. It was good fun and something you definately don’t do back home!! Be warned of sand flies though. (the west coast is full of them)
After gold panning we drove on to Franz Josef and booked our day activity for the 12th. Me and Darren were going on a 3/4 day hike up the glacier and ice treking. We stayed at Rainforest Retreat which was a lovely hostel – definately reccomend it. I must shout out to Nadine and Sam from London who we shared dorms with from the 11th till the 14th.
On the 12th we set off early to the centre and got kitted out in boots (be warned of blisters!) lovely itchy socks, rain coats and talons (ice spikes). We jumped in a bus and went to the start it was a 2k walk to the start of the glacier over rocks and streams. We stopped at the foot of the biggest and steepest rock hill ever and was told we were going to climb/walk up it. Panic set it as this hill was huge. Still we plodded on and got to the top eventually – laughing most of they way to keep our spirits up.
Once at the start of the glacier (ice part) we put our spikes/talons on – and had to tuck our trousers in our green wool socks – we looked fab!! We then split into 2 groups – fast and slow group. Darren was in the fast group while me Nadine, Sam and one other girl went in the slow group. Our guide was AJ and had so much patience and joined in with our laughs all the way.
We treked up huge ice carved steps close to sheer drops, through ice tunnels and caves. It was spectacular and even though was tiring the views kept you going. We ate lunch on the top of the glacier and carried on treking for around 5 hrs all together on the ice. It was like being part of ice age!
The walk back down the rocks wasn’t as bad as the way up. but we were so tired and excitied it kept you going. If anyone is travelling near Franz Josef you must trek up the glaciers its amazing and walking on ice is not slippy at all!