Wednesday, March 25, 2015

NZ 4: The Land of Ice and Fire

Something that's so interesting about New Zealand is that you can see an active volcano one day, and then next, head south and you can climb on a glacier. Oh and did I mention that the glacier ends in a rain forest? The strange mix of hot and cold, of fire and ice, is what makes this group of islands so spectacular.

I'll get to the fire part in my next post. For now, let's focus on the ice.
New Zealand has quite a few glacier. Two of the most prominent are Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier. Chris and I were lucky enough to have good weather and be able to fly out on a helicopter to Fox Glacier. Apparently the weather is pretty unpredictable and flights get cancelled about as often as they actually go up. So we were relieved to wake up to blue skies.
The view from the helicopter!
That's the glacier in the middle, curving down to the left.
Here's a video I took as we were approaching the glacier in the helicopter. (I got to sit in the front seat on the way out!)

Our guide out on the ice. She took us for a 3-hour hike on the glacier. And yes, she had to use the ax a lot to cut away parts of the ice so we could get around.
To give you an idea of just how massive this glacier is, take a look at that little black spot on the left, just above the middle of the picture. That's a group of about 12 people. And then further to the left, I think that's another group even further up. And we were standing in the middle of the glacier. This thing was enormous.

Chris in an ice cavern!
Climbing through an ice arch.
As you can imagine, this little escapade was pretty pricey. But it was definitely one of the more unusual, awe-inspiring activities I've ever done. I remember standing there and saying to Chris "We're hiking on a glacier in New Zealand right now. Who does that?" haha The ice formations were so beautiful and it was really neat wearing those spikes on our boots and walking on slick ice. Also, this was our first time in a helicopter, which was pretty awesome itself. It was a short ride, but so cool. Especially when you luck out and get to sit in the front seat like me! (Sorry Chris!)