Glaciers and Jelly Wrestling, a nice combo....

Trip Start May 18, 2005
Trip End May 18, 2006

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Sunday, April 9, 2006

This area of New Zealand is home to a bunch of glaciers, one of which (Franz Josef) we planned on climbing.

It was pretty cold here, even more snow on the mountains than there was further south. We thought that we might get to go up to see the glacier on a heli hike, which involves getting lifted to the top of the glacier by a helicopter and then scaling you're way down to the face. But, unfortunately for us, the weather was too bad for the choppers to go up so we ended up just doing the hike option which turned out to be great by itself.

They took us from the town to the start of the walk to the glacier, whih is about 3km. From that distance it looks like its not too big at all, but its not until you start to get closer and see that the tiny specs on it and in front of it are actually people. Its massive.

The walk to the glacier itself was fairly tricky and we had to scramble up and over loads of rocks and splash through a few rivers before we got there. At the moment the glacier is advancing down towards the sea at about 15 centimetres a day, sometimes more, which means that most of the ice on the front is dirty and full of rocks that it have gauged out of the mountains. It also means that it is very steep and full of crevasses, which made the climb all the more exciting. We donned our cramons (the spikes for gripping the ice) and our guide led us up a path that was chosen that morning (they choose a different one each day because they dissappear over night) and he chopped out steps on the steep parts with an ice pick. Some parts were ridiculously steep and we had to cross over some deep crevasses on little rickety bridges and scale along ledges with hude drops. It was great. It was also stunning up there. The ice forms some amazing shapes and caves and has a pale blue tint to it - its actually a little bit spooky to be honest. Crawling through the caves and little gaps was fun, but the scariest part was when we had to walk along the inside walls of a crevass, all explained on the photo attached with me straddling the crevass. Mad stuff altogether.

That night we actually met a friend of Aishlings from home in Leixlip and we went out for a few scoops in the local. As it turned out it was Jelly Wrestling night, apparently very popular here in NZ. Basically a bunch of scantily clad girls wrestle each othere in the 'jelly pit' with the aim being to remove your opponents clothing before they remove yours. All your clothing. Needless to say it was embarassingly funny to watch, even more so when they invited audience members (the few who volunteered) to join in and try to beat the ladies. Before we knew it the place was choc with naked jelly covered people. And no, I won't frighten you with pictures of that. Just a bit too disturbing.
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