After my disappointing morning of not being able to do the glacier hike, I spend the rest of the morning making the most of the wifi in the hostel and sitting in the sun watching it burn away the low cloud that stopped me from doing my trip. Around lunch the next kiwi bus rolls in, which Amsterdam Frank is on so at least will know someone as the place feels so empty after the rest of my kiwi bus left.
Knowing that the next bus will need an hour or so to check in and get sorted I head to the Full of Beans Cafe for a pot of tea and relax for a bit. I get unusual tea called Live Tea that comes with a hour glass timer to show when it is ready to drink and brewed, which is the first time have seen that. Apparently 3 minutes needed for the tea to flavour and it’s pretty good. I like the concept lol.
After being there an hour or so, as I head out I bump into Amsterdam Frank and walk back to the hostel with him hearing about what he has been doing last few days with the kiwi bus. As the weather is now really sunny and blue sky, we say about going for a walk to the start of the glacier even though I have already done it the previous day. As I want to do a few things in the Internet cafe, Frank waits for me and then we head to the carpark to see if conditions are better for the walks.
As we walk up the road along the river the view is so much better as there are no clouds and you can see the top of the mountains and some with snow on them, which look very pretty especially with the backdrop of the blue sky. It actually makes the road walk so much nicer. At the carpark we start with the Sentinel Rock again and view is pretty much the same, maybe better as less clouds although despite being sunny elsewhere in the valley it is very grey looking. The waterfalls looks bigger than previous day and can see people walking in the distance and up to the glacier, which obviously due to nthe weather was closed.
With the short walk down (the easy part) we head to the end of the forest view which I’m not expecting much from based on the previous day’s walk. But I am really surprised when you can walk right down to where it was flooded and the sign was stopping anyone going further. So as we walk down to end of the walk immediately it opens out to the river with a little bridge crossing and huge big waterfalls – 3 of them I guess created from all the monsoon weather and unsure if they are usually that big. This is the point the longer walk starts with a given time of hour half return. The mountains surrounding the valley are high and really cool witj many having mini waterfalls coming down. I can understand totally why this would have been shut as the river goes right through the valley. I bump into a lady who was on my cancelled helihike tour and she must have gone on one of the guided walks that Franz Josef Glacier company run. At $70 (30GBP) I am not convinced they are the best value as you can walk there for free unless it is bad weather like yesterday and in that case then definitely as they have all the safety gear.
So the lady says it is about an hour to walk and is worthwhile, so Amsterdam Frank and I start walking along both pretty impressed at how cool it is and it was not what I was expecting at all. We pass quite a few of the guys from his Kiwi bus, who as we pass tell us it is worth it and isn’t that far as we are running a little out of time with the sunset only in about an hour and Frank having to be back at the hostel for the pizza fest night starting at 7.15pm. Each bit we walk we get better views of the glacier and so decide to keep walking, as it is a nice evening and actually not too cold although I have a hoodie on and Frank is just in shorts and T-shirt. Giving ourselves a goal of a big rock to end up, we try and walk a bit quicker. We have to cross small little river by stones that is fine and then a few uphill bits, bit nothing too hard.
When we get to the target rock, find it is the end anyway of the trail so just admire the view from there as you get a good feel for the glacier from there seeing where it starts and being able to see just how much it has disappeared over the years. Again there are a few waterfalls coming down around us and with all the barren rock it reminds you of middle earth and lord of the rings, like so much of NZ does. As we head back we manage to catch the sunset and can see the colours of it over the mountains, which makes it look peaceful and nice. The walk took about 30minutes and with the sun already nearly gone, we walk back hoping it won’t be too dark by the time we get to the carpark, which we are lucky with getting there fine just before it goes pitch black. But not wanting to walk back the hour in the total dark, especially as a lot of it is along the road and so might be quite dangerous considering there are no lights on the roads, we spot one car left in the carpark so knock on the window to see if they are heading into Franz Josef, which is most likely as nowhere else really to go. They are a family of chinese tourists and luckily for us they have a 7 seater car and are happy to drop us into town, as that is where they are heading anyway. With a little baby in toe, they chat to us about their journey so far, which comprises of a long drive from Christchurch so they must be sick of driving.
The drive is only 10minutes vs the hour walk, so very much welcomed by us and means we can get back with some time to chill and change for the pizza fest, although I have food I need to eat so go for that instead while making the most of the lovely room. Upgraded myself after the rest of the bus left by a massive $4 a night so that I can get tea, coffee, hairdryer, TV and ensuite the room is great for recharging the battery, made even better by it being empty apart from me so like a private room. Welsh Alex when he left, ditched his straighteners and so I take those as they are really good ones and thought it would be nice after months to have a pamper night and trying it straight again. So rest of the evening is spent doing that and then heading to the Monsoon Bar once the pizza Fest has finished for a cheeky drink. The bar is really empty by the time I get there with just Amsterdam Frank and a couple of people from his bus, plus his driver who seems pretty mad and lively. Like with our group when we did the pizza fest, everyone gets food coma and so on top of the hangover from the fancy dress party makes you crash out. Happy to not have a late night, as up early for the helihike so just end up in the room chatting to my new room mates who are two cool medical students from San Diego and they give me some tips for my visit there in a few weeks.
5th May 2016