30 January 2011

Wanaka & Franz Josef Glacier

Lake Wanaka
On our first day in Wanaka, it rained constantly. Not that we were too bothered; we spent the afternoon watching the Australian Open, cheering on Andy Murray in his quarter-final match.

At night, it was still raining, so we continued our lazy day and watched 'The Kids Are Alright' at Cinema Paradiso, Wanaka's art house cinema where you can watch the movie from a sofa and enjoy freshly baked (huge) cookies during the interval.

Every cinema should serve these!
The following day, we went to a place called Puzzling World, where we were awed by holograms and various optical illusions, including a room where everything was slanted at an angle which messed with my head (and sense of balance!) After that, Pam and I attempted the Great Maze and, after getting completely lost several times, eventually completed it in a time of 65 minutes (the average time was supposedly between 30 and 60 minutes!)

At Wanaka Beerworks
On the way back to the campsite, we stopped in at Wanaka Beerworks and enjoyed samples of their three finest products in hobbit-sized pitcher glasses!

Still on a high from doing the Nevis bungy jump in Queenstown, I decided to do my first skydive with a company in Wanaka. My efforts to persuade Pam to give it a go fell on deaf ears, but she agreed to come and watch. Luckily, the rain from the previous two days had cleared and the sun was shining.

The nervy wait before the jump...
Both Pam and I were much more relaxed in the build-up to the skydive than the bungy jump, but when I walked towards to plane - adorned in my rather fetching jump suit and harness - my nerves started to jangle!

On my way back to solid ground!
The plane took off, and as it climbed, I could make out the peaks of Mount Aspiring and Mount Cook in the distance. Down below, I saw the bright blue Lake Wanaka and waited nervously until the plane reached a height of 15,000 feet.

When the plane was high enough that the fields below looked like match boxes, the door of the plane suddenly slid open (at this point, I really hoped the instructor who I was attached to hadn't forgotten the parachute). Before I knew it, I was hurtling through the air, woohooing my way back to the ground! With my arms held out wide, it felt like I was flying! I could feel the wind through my shoes and I had time during the 60 second free fall to look around and take in the spectacular scenery.

Exploring the glacier
When the parachute opened (which, to my disappointment, was bright pink), I breathed a huge sigh of relief! The instructor let me have a go of controlling our descent and before long, we were standing on the grass where Pam was gratefully waiting for me!

In one of the deep crevices on Franz Josef Glacier
Feeling a bit flushed after all the excitement, we foolishly decided to swim in Lake Wanaka, but quickly changed our minds after wading in belly button deep into the freezing water.

From Wanaka, we drove up the West coast to Franz Josef Glacier, where we had signed up for a full-day trek on the ice. Kitted out with our thermal jacket, walking boots, woolly hat and crampons, we definitely looked the part, though standing at the base of the glacier, we wondered if we would be able to keep up with our super-fit guide.

Thankfully, we did, and when we reached the glacier, it felt really strange to be able to walk on the ice without slipping around (though Pam still managed a couple of falls!) After a steep climb up the hard-packed ice, we explored the huge crevices. The biggest one we climbed in was called 'Blue Ice', where the walls of ice either side of us reached up to 40 metres high! Our guide told us it took a week to fill in the crevice and that chainsaws had to be used.

The day was a real highlight of our time in New Zealand, made all the better because our ticket included entry to the local hot pools where we could soothe our aching limbs!


Franz Josef Glacier

1 comment:

  1. Breathtakingly beautiful! What an adventure you are both having. Wonder how you will cope with normal life when you get back? Enjoy everything to the full. xxxx


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