Posted by: dammer145 | November 6, 2008

Foxy Glaciers

The Frans Jozef Glacier.

As we were going to stay at the same camping for two nights we didn’t have to move the camper before 10:00. We had a nice long lie-in and got up at about 11:00.

We first drove up to the glacier itself: you can drive up pretty close, after that it’s about a 30 minute walk through forest to the “mouth” of the glacier. We didn’t go all the way to the mouth as heavy rainfall lately had caused recent rockfall. The glacier was impressive – an enormous white river of ice, apparently standing still, but looks deceived: the Frans Jozef glacier is one of the fastest in the world, with speeds of up to eight metres per day recorded in the past. Over the past 250 years the glacier has been reduced by about one-third: along the road upwards a sign says where the glacier reached in 1750.

After that we headed for the tourist office – a lot more information on the glacier was to be read there, along with a large exhibition about NZ’s endangered birds and plant life (they even have signs up there encouraging people to run over possums if they see them – I am not joking). We strolled through the expo on the glacier, with lots of diagrams and pictures explaining why and how glaciers form. Apparently there are over 130 glaciers in the New Zealand Southern Alps, with the largest being the Tasman Glacier, leading down from Mount Cook. Mount Cook is the highest mountain in the Southern Alps, named after the European explorer who first set foothold on Aotearea. Abel Tasman was the first European to actually see New Zealand, though he did not set foot on it. That is why the place is called New Zealand: Abel Tasman was a Dutchman who named it “Nieuw Zeeland” after the south-western Dutch island-rich province.

Along the road to the glaciers.

As it was tough to visit the glacier up close, we visited another Glacier centre called Hukawai. It contained a lot of the same information we had read in the tourist office. It did however contain a lot more diagrams and explanation on how glaciers actually work – very interesting. It also had an ice climbing wall – we didn’t try it ourselves.

That night we would be staying in Frans Jozef again, so we headed to the local convenience store for dinner. We were in there for about half an hour trying to decide what we were going to have – eventually we decided to have some sausages. We would later regret that very much – New Zealanders have no idea how to make a decent banger.

After having browsed through the souvenir shops for a while we made our way back to the camping. We made dinner, watched a DVD we had rented from the camping (Heavenly Creatures), and went to bed.

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