Franz Joseph Glacier

Fri 17 Dec 2010 07:14
We had considered splashing out on a guided hike, or even a heli trip to this glacier, but with a forecast of heavy rain and poor visibility we decided to just splash through the puddles on the free path and walk close to the face. Tourists who try to walk on the glacier alone can die by falling into crevasses which can open suddenly. The last death was just a week ago when a Korean tourist went on his own and it took 2 days before someone noticed his car was still in the car park and three days to find his body.
In 1939 tourists used to have to get in a boat and row across a glacial lake dodging icebergs. The lake area is now a bed of rocks and in the heavy rain we saw many rocks falling from the top of the glacier and water gushing vigourously down the mountain sides. A beautiful if crowded glacier.
For anyone thinking of coming this way by car - there is no petrol for 120km south of Fox glacier and petrol in Fox and Franz towns was 208c and 218c respectively. In the next towns either way it was 200c/195c.
On our way to Westport we stopped at Punakaiki, which is Maori for the spring where the rocks lie heaped up - a pretty accurate description. These limestone layers sit like stacks of pancakes in surf and surge where even on a calm day you feel the water heaving and breathing under your feet. Another weird NZ geological phenomenon.
How many animals can you see here?