(This is part of a multi part series – to check out the previous entry, click here!)
Objects May be Further Away Than They Appear
I hope you’ve been enjoying the trip so far. It’s amazing that when you write about something a ways after it happened the kinds of things that stick out in your mind compared to right after it. I kept a log of the trip as it was taking place but hadn’t looked at it in years – I glanced at it just before I started to write this and the things I wrote down reminded me not only of things I forgot but just how much my travel tastes and perspectives have changed since experiencing it. That’s the beauty of travel.
On our second day of the New Zealand road trip we made our way from Greymouth down to the Franz Josef glacier. Before leaving, I made sure to allow for time to check out the ice monsters of this country because I’d never seen that before. Rather than organize a tour of them, I heard that just driving up to them and walking it yourself was still a great way to spend a day.
Let me tell you the thing about the Franz Josef glacier. From the time you park the car until you reach the face of it, it will take you about two hours. I don’t care what you think as you emerge from the woods and see the glacier, it is a lot further away than it looks. Is the walk worth it? Totally.
Walking the distance gives you an idea of the power of glaciers, how they aren’t just solid ice and how they carve out the landscape and in a way are living things all of their own. The sediment dropped by the glacier can range from pebbles to giant bolders and makes for a rather desolate landscape. One of the reasons I chose Franz Josef to check out instead of the nearby Fox glacier was on appearance alone, with the former resembling a frozen tidal wave hurdling down from the mountains – it’s just incredible to see up close.
By the time we reached the front where the yellow rope keeps people back from the face, the sun was already starting to hide, despite the fact that it was only 2pm. This was because the cliffs were so high that direct sunlight was only present for about four hours a day. Even though it was winter and we were next to a mountain glacier, the weather was surprisingly comfortable and I didn’t wear a jacket. We saw quite a number of people going beyond the rope with a tour group to go inside the glacier – which made us jealous, but we were trying to do this trip as cheaply as possible – so we built an inukshuk out of the rocks and headed back to our campervan.
As we made our way to the campsite for the night after having a burger at a nearby restaurant, we couldn’t help but still be amazed at the incredible stuff we’d seen thus far. What an incredible country and the trip was basically just getting started!