West is Best

Trip Start Oct 01, 2008
Trip End Nov 16, 2008

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Sunday, November 2, 2008

Turned out the couple who own and run Birdsong in Hokitika are from Congleton!!! Wow I thought Bidulph was the furthest anyone from Congleton had got (VC and Nadley excluded of course).

Now then we shot off from Hoki and got to Franz Josef in double quick time, through driving driving rain. It was Saturday and the Bledisloe Cup was being played, so we went out and enjoyed the celebrations before retiring to watch the match at our motel. So the All Blacks won 19-14 and the Wallabies cried a lot.

Sunday we got ourselves gussied up for a heli hike on the glacier, first time in a chopper for either of us, but after putting on a load of crazy clothes, big boots & grey wooly socks, big blue waterproof jackets, the helicopter was a doddle.

Hiking on the glacier was pretty incredible. The weather had been terrible, but Ellie had pulled some strings and we had a window of 3 hours of blue skies and blue ice. Johnny our enthusiastic guide from Delaware seemed to be loving the conditions and found us a number of ice caves to climb into and 100m holes in the glacier to avoid. A couple of grueling hours of climbing up and down and round and over and under and through and we were back at the "helipad". The whiribirds came in to lift us out!!

As if that wasn't enough we decided to venture down the road (possibly the twistiest-turniest road in NZ, there's a corner that should be taken at a maximum speed of 15kph, I can run that fast - almost) to see the Fox glacier. We walked up as far as you are permitted without a guide, and then saw a number of foolhardy individuals proceeding beyond the cordon to the face (another kilometre or so). Now we had read various newspaper clippings about "Bloody Stupid Tourists"  being hit by icefalls having ignored the "proceed no further" signs. I was hoping to see natural selection in action, but sadly the glacier was not playing and the gene pool remains dilute for it.

Thouroughly exhausted - a man should limit himself to one glacier per day - we returned to FJ for some sleep. On to Wanaka tomorrow
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