Tuesday, 27 May 2014

And I Owe it All to New Zealand

More madness and fantastic fun on the south island. I can't write everything I've done since Wellington, but I've found a great group of people who I've been with on the bus and seen some fabulous scenery. Today was especially unbelievably beautiful, travelling from Franz Josef to Wanaka.

I guess the highlight of the last few days was hiking on the Franz Josef glacier. We were the first group allowed onto it in a week because of poor weather conditions, so we were incredibly lucky. 

We were fully kitted out with layers, boots, crampons, and a fetching bumbag for some food and our cameras. Then we were flown up to the glacier in a helicopter. I'd never been in a helicopter before, so that was very exciting. And the views were spectacular before we'd even set foot on the ice. 

Once we got used to walking with crampons we started up the ice sheet, avoiding holes that dropped away into nothingness. And it was so much fun. We traversed crevasses, ice walls and caves, using ropes to walk along icy ledges. And all the while we were surrounded by glittering ice and snow; tall mountains on either side, the rock only divided by the occasional waterfall; and blessed with a bright blue sky. 

Once the sun was on us it wasn't too cold, but we were in the shade for the first two hours of our three on the glacier. 

I count myself very lucky that I got to do this, not only because of the weather, but because the glacier is retreating and it's unclear how many years there are left when it will be safe to walk on it. So at least I can say I've done it. And it was a great experience - definitely a New Zealand highlight. 

Tomorrow we get to Queenstown, which I'm really excited about. It's meant to be a hub of activities with a beautiful setting. Hopefully it will live up to its reputation! 

Every time I assess my life at the moment I'm happy with it. Going travelling is easily the best decision I ever made. Long may it continue. 

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