Andrew's Big Gap Year

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Bit Delayed
Stayed in Greymouth last night, a shipping town on the west coast. Wasn’t really much going on, hence why we only stayed one night but we didn’t manage a trip to the local brewery, Monteiths.
A much smaller brewery in comparison to others that I have seen but it was still very interesting and the best part of all was that we got a free tasting and a meal at the local hotel for just $25 dollars. We tried 7 different beers so it’s fair to say that Rich and I were fairly tipsy when we left. Some really good beer though and really enjoyed there Celtic Red Beer, which is a new addition and brewer similar to the traditional Scottish and Irish ales back home.
So today we arrived in Franz Josef, home of one of the world’s most famous glaciers which the town that it shares it’s name with. Rich and I are currently booked on a full day Glacier tour tomorrow and afterwards we have managed to wangle our way into the Glacier Hot Pools. They are basically hot tubs in the middle of the rainforest and it’s not uncommon to have the snowy back drop in the background with the possibility of it snowing or snowing while you are in there. Really looking forward to the trek but not going to lie, can’t wait to get into those hot pools.

Been a long day today. After getting up at 6.45am we made our day down to ‘base. Here we collected our Glacier gear which included the following:
Ice Boots
Crampons (spikes for your shoes)
Once we were all geared up and had signed our life away we then boarded our bus towards the Glacier. After about a 10 minute drive we had reached our destination and our 12k trek began.
The first part of the trek is through dense rainforest where you walk through, rivers, small caves up hills, down hills etc. Then out of nowhere you reach the end of the rainforest and you are met with the most majestic sight. At first it takes your breath away because you are not only seeing the glacier but a massive valley in which it sits in with mountains surrounding it with snow on the top and then a light fog which doesn’t allow you to really appreciate the size of the Glacier.
So after a long talk to the front of the Glacier we had a small safety briefing and started making our way up. Now Rich and I had booked the full-day hike which covers between 11-12k. The group was then split up into 3 groups. 1) Fittest people who wanted a bit of a challenge 2) People who would like to take it slower than group 2 but faster than group 3) people who wanted to stop frequently, take pictures and not go as far. Without hesitation Rich and joined Group 1. We thought that we will see what Franz has got too offer. What we weren’t told though until we started in separate groups is that the fitness needed s like going up a set of stairs, 2 steps at a time for an hour, break then again, break, then again etc. Too be honest it wasn’t that bad and it was a really good workout. We did stop on a regular basis due to heavy rain fall so our guide had to literally cut steps into the ice to make it easier for us to move. We continued to hike until we reached our high point, around 600m above sea level. Now you would think that coming down would be easier, hmmm, not so. If you begin to pick up the slightest bit of speed it’s very difficult to slow yourself down. (As 1 Brazilian guy found out).
The funniest part of the day however was when a member of the group decided to take a toilet break. Now I was always told to never piss into the wind....this guy took an eternity to decide which way the wind was blowing so once he seemed happy that he was facing the right way he started. Now obviously none of us are looking at him while he is doing this but after about 5 minutes we started to realise that the guy is no longer there. A few questions are asked so Daniel our guide gets a bit concerned and goes to see where he is. As Dan is walking towards the ‘yellow ice’ we see this small ice pick emerge from over the ridge, where this guy had started. Dan bursts out laughing and it’s soon apparent why. This guy was so concerned about the wind that he didn’t have a good enough grip and fell into a large collection of water beneath him. Soaking wet, a few words in Portuguese the man started laughing realising that everyone else was too. As we continued the trek around the water we also realised that not only had he lost his footing but he had urinated into a man-made slit in the ice which helps to stop the track getting slippy as it collects all the water coming down. Where does this slit lead too, you guessed it, the water in which he fell. Unlucky bastard!
Rich and I are about to head to the Glacier Hot Pools now, should be good after a long day on the ice. Staying one more day here then heading to Queenstown tomorrow and we will probably be there for a couple of weeks I reckon. Looks good.


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