NZ Day 3: Franz Josef Glacier

The Franz-Josef town a tiny little town, one main street, a few shoot offs. Most of it made of tourist accommodations, eateries, shops etc. Lots of shop selling unreasonably expensive New Zealand Merino wool sweaters and other woollens. A lot also selling warm clothing and rain coats as it rains any day on this side of the Alps due to the clouds being road-blocked by the high peaks.
Now you’d need enough warm clothes here for sure if you’re going to stay overnight, but if you’re going up the glaciers, you have to rationalise. The reflected sunlight off the ice can make things quite warm over the glaciers, compounded by the fact that the walks to the glaciers can be quite physical and you’ll be sweating off your own heat as well. The local guides recommend comfortable shorts/ loose pants but no jeans for comfort reasons for the hike to the glaciers. You do need to keep the torso warm, but the trick is to make more layers of thin and comfortable clothing rather than heavy thick wool because you’ll be putting them on and off as the sun changes its mood during the hike.
There was a Kiwi museum in the town. Like the Temples in Rishikesh, every town in NZ has a Special Rare Kiwi bird of their own in its park or museum. We wanted to spend the time walking to and from the glaciers and so we spared the museum and decided to have a fill at a local restaurant and move on to the glacier
The walk to the glacier is marked at about 1hr 30 minutes return. This may be true in the winters when the glaciers are closer to the town, or with a competition hiker who doesn’t stop to look around or take  pictures as it sure was not the case with us. I think we sure did take a lot longer than that.
The following pictures are from along the glacier walk. After the initial short walk through the rainforest area ….
Coming out of the rain forests, you see the vast river bed that you walk through to the glacier. The walk is along the river, but in most of the way the river is not directly visible but clearly audible. There are high mountains on both sides with plenty of streams and waterfalls on sight and the glacier mouth is visible at the far end as a constant reminder of the goal you have to reach
Walk a little further and you see the mouth of the glacier up close, and the gate of ice carved out of the glacier and the river flowing through it.

And then you get this amazing view of the glacier mouth between two mountain slopes

And then you learn it’s time to return as you can’t go any further by yourself

You can go further on the ice, but only with one of the licensed guides who run half day an dull day tours from the town everyday. Seems like we’re gonna have to take a pass on that this time due to the lack of time on hand.
We start to make our way back and just then see this Asian elderly man who offers to take a picture of me and Radha together.

Mr. Jonathan Hu

He started by pulling a pun or two at my bulky Canon SLR camera and the lens kit, and flashed his ultraportable Sony Nex series camera.

Mr. Hu is a retired electronics engineer- migrated as a child from China to Singapore where he lives now. He has travelled the world extensively and keeps fit by swimming and hiking and walking along the treks anytime he gets a chance. He’s been to India many times and is a Sathya Sai Baba disciple!! He said he’s skeptic about the miracles and supernatural powers claimed by the late  Baba, but maintains that he clearly follows him for his suggestions of how to wade through life and has immense respect for Baba’s mission and their welfare activities. He says, even if he fooled a few people and told a few lies, the amount of charity and welfare work that his foundation does more than negates all that.

After the tiring walk we checked in at the Rainforest Retreat resort’s camper van parking lot for the night, enjoyed a few night views around and said hello to a few locals before turning in.

Recuperate a little after a busy day for trip on to Fox Glacier and onwards tomorrow.