Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hiking glaciers on the west coast

Our next stop was Franz Jozef, a city based at the bottom of two glaciers, the Franz Jozef Glacier and the Fox Glacier. The amazing thing about them is that they come all the way down in the valley, almost to sea level. It is a rare sight, so rare in fact that when Abel Tasman was sailing along the coast when discovering New Zealand, he thought that they were weird low white clouds stuck in the valleys, instead of huge chunks of ice coming down from the mountains.

We decided to go on a full day hike on the glacier and were pretty excited about it as last time we came we weren't able to get on the glacier. The full day hike allowed us to go pretty high up and see strange formations, caves, and crevasses.

Approaching the glacier

Even on the ice!

We walked along a path that only existed because our guide was carving it as we went. We stopped for lunch under a light rain and had food family-style, all huddled under a parachute the guide had brought in case. It made for a really intimate lunch!

We had full crampons of course, which helped tremendously and made walking on the ice pretty straightforward. Frankly the whole hike was pretty darn cool and I'm really happy we got to do it.

We then had to hit the road to reach Wanaka, our gateway to the Fiordlands. Wanaka was our favorite town last visit, and we have to admit that it is still very much our favorite town this time around. It beautifully embraces a lake, and even though it grew tremendously since we last were there, it still has the cuteness and friendliness of a little town where it feels good to hang out. We got to stay only a couple nights there, but we were in a really good hostel where we met a couple of German guys whose company we enjoyed. We even went climbing with them when the weather was a little too cold for anything else. It definitely felt good to be back on a climbing wall.

The only issue with Wanaka was our disappointment when we ran into a Mexican restaurant, all giddy about the idea of maybe having a burrito. That was until we say the menu, and the $25 price tag for a burrito we get for $5 in SF...

Not really the prices we've been used to

We also visited an unusual place there as we went to a recycling center, to buy some used clothes. I sadly got my only jacket stolen at a hostel along the way, and was in dire need of some warm clothes. The recycling center to the rescue... and its $3 polar shirts that saved the day, but not my sense of style. :)

Given the length of the country, our trip along the west coast involved a good amount of driving but the landscape was so pretty and much more dramatic than that of the North Island, thus well worth a visit.

Just one of the many views we got at a turn of the road

Having fun while on the road

Find the rest of the photos here:

View New Zealand - West Coast in a larger map


  1. Ce que vous ĂȘtes beaux tous les 2! J'adore la photo avec le rasoir ;-) Les autres sont magnifiques.

  2. Love it! Glaciers are so cool! Miss you guys, xoxo