Contiki ‘Sweet as’ South – Day VIII

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Super excited for today! Because we are all going to hike a glacier! Ice explorers gogo~

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Franz Josef have a really really small town – just one stretch of road which you can finish in less than 15mins. We were seperated into quite a few batches, probably about 10 people in a group to a guide. Filled in some forms, got briefed, picked up our jackets, pants, boots, crampons, and a pouch and headed off to the glacier. We all wanted to wear thick layers up until we were being told it’s hot up there, so much so some of the hikers went up in shorts. It’s summer after all! Sun screens extremely recommended due to how the ice reflects the sun rays.

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I initially signed up for the one with a helicopter tour of the glacier that’s higher up but seems like all the slots were booked out at that time because its the holiday season. So I did the ice explorer instead, which a helicopter will bring you to the ice, and we start hiking from there.

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From the picture above, you can slightly make out where the glacier used to end. The point where the trees end, was where the glacier end as well. Not a lot of years ago, we could still hike on the glacier which starts righttttt at the bottom. But now, because the glacier has been retreating at an alarming rate and the start of the glacier don’t start till in the middle of the mountain, we could only take a helicopter up.

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Was sitting in the helicopter and I couldn’t grasp the scale of things. That glacier in front of me does look really small… until we got closer and I caught a picture of how small humans are in the midst of the glacier. But really, as huge as how it seems, the glacier wasn’t able to return to its previous glory especially when the snow up in the mountains couldn’t make up for what was retreated. Global warming indeed!

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Spot the hikers!

Was explained that the glacier moves everyday. The top part moves about 3-4m a day and the bottom part about 1-2m. Franz Josef, together with its neighbour, Fox Glacier, both ends with a rainforest. Interesting how these two nature that seems to be unable to mixed are living in harmony here.

We put on our crampons and starting the hike up. The recent years, the top part of the glacier has been deemed dangerous and the highest we could go was just right below that black patch in the middle you see in my pictures. & even when we were hiking, you can occasionally still see rocks falling down and those sounds they made scares the hell out of me, like, what if its an avalanche? Heh, but not to worry, whatever tracks we could walk on were safe for the day, and double checked every morning before by the guides before we get onto the glacier.

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The hike is extremely weather dependent, and we were lucky to get the morning slots. In the afternoon, the weather turned for the worse and the helicopters were busy trying to get everyone out of the glacier, afterwards, I heard that all the tours were cancelled.

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It’s really peacefully up there, was explained that some animals can be seen sometimes. But that day, the only animals saw were those in blue and red jackets trying to cling on to their lives with the crampons provided.

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It cute how the glacier has some small streams going around, its refreshing and icy to drink a few mouths after that few hours of hike. It’s really a pity that the three hours spent flew by so fast, I would definitely love to be able to see the glacier from the top, maybe next time~!

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The rainforest that lives in harmony with the glacier

The hike includes a ticket to the hot pools near our lodge, so after the hike, I went back to change, and went into the hot pools. (wanted to go for the kiwi but I saw a “fully booked out” sign on the counter, so I thought I missed the chance. But apparently that fully booked out was for the tour and walk-ins were still available) I went into the pools and looked around, seems like all of the Contiki people were here XD like I said, there’s isn’t much to do there anyways. They have 3 pools, 35 degrees, 37 degrees and 40 degrees celcius. Was going back and forth between the 3 pools. We really couldn’t take that 40 degrees pool. It’s crazily hot. Remember to bring along your swim wear! At night, while some signed up for the pizza feast, I thought I should just check out what they have along the street. So we went and settled in an Asian cuisine restaurant, selling fried rice for 19 bucks. It’s super expensive but the thought of rice… So yes, I spent that 19 bucks on rice. Thank goodness it was good and satisfying! & we headed back earlier to pack our stuffs, simply because the next day is the last day of the tour boohoo… T^T

To end this post off, here’s a consolidated video of the hike!

Check out this awesome tour over here!
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored trip! Everything was my own expenses.

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