After Abel Tasman we had a couple of flat days where we didn’t do huge amounts apart from sit on a bus and stop for the occasional photo. We stop in fairly random towns for the night and find yourself drinking just for something to do! One of these nights is pretty famous on the Kiwi Experience as we stop in the middle of nowhere and every night is a fancy dress party! With bungee jumps and canyon swings for prizes we took this very seriously and went to town on our outfits! (Spoiler alert: we didn’t win and I still feel cheated)
After a couple days we arrived in the place we’d been really looking forward to Franz Josef! Most people only allow two nights here, but fed up of the bus we decided to mix it up and stay four. For our first full day we were extremely happy to wake up to the sun as we were off to hike on the glacier and it’s known to be cancelled for just the smallest amount of wind or rain. $360 later and fashioning some warm gear and boots we were off for a five minute helicopter ride on to the glacier. It was my first helicopter experience and to say I don’t like flying, I highly enjoyed it, with some great views of the rainforest and the glacier! Once on the ice, our guide Nathan lead us on a three hour hike through the glacier including many tight tunnels and caves, carving the way with his axe. Once we’d finished and I’d taken an average of one and a half pictures a minute, it was back down on the helicopter. I can’t even begin to explain how amazing this day was. It’s incredibly surreal walking on the glacier and is the most incredibly beautiful sight! Probably the best day of our trip so far and worth every penny! We also felt incredibly lucky that the trip went ahead as the afternoon trips were all cancelled and for the next couple days.
After a big lunch and a nap, we headed to the glacier hot pools that were included in our price for a relax and a girly gossip in 40 degree pools.
The next day, as most of our friends boarded the bus, we were happy for another couple days to rest and explore. Franz Josef is a tiny town but it’s so cute! Despite rain on our second full day, we headed for one of the many free walks in the area. We took a very hilly track that lead us to a very blue river. Being the adventurers we are, we decided that rather than walk back the way we’d came as the walk dictated, we thought we could find a shortcut across the river to the main road. Not the most sensible idea as we found ourselves clambering across loose rocks next to the fast flowing river. Eventually we found our way to the main road! At this point (and our stupid decisions continuing) we decided instead of going 1km back to town to catch a shuttle bus to the glacier, we would walk the 4km instead. I was beyond cold it was causing me pain and Steph had ripped a hole in her leggings and was bleeding from chafing. It was the longest 4km and no fun at all, I was close to tears! When we finally arrived at the car park and the start point of several walking tracks, we realised that we didn’t have the energy to do anymore walking, making the last 4km of pain completely pointless! We did an easy 15 minute walk to a lake before giving in and deciding to get the 3pm shuttle back to town. 3:15 came and still no bus, and no signal to be able to call it. The rain was really pouring by this point and there was nowhere to shelter. Five minutes after giving up on the bus and starting the 5km walk to the hostel, we realised We couldn’t go on anymore and we’d have to hitchhike. There’s only one road in this place so all the cars that drove past us soaked in the rain were just mean! Finally a French couple pulled up in their camper van and gave us a lift to town. Hallelujah!! Never been so thrilled.
Day three and the rain was still going strong so rather than venture out again, we had a chilled one in the hostel, went for a lovely lunch, did some laundry and went for a cinema day! We came out of the cinema to witness an amazing sunset behind the snowy mountains, a lovely way to end our stay in Franz Josef!