Tuesday, March 22, 2016

South Island Part 3: Franz Josef Glacier

Hello Everyone,

Since I have internet and my last post was so long, I thought I would spare you with a quick one this time.  We left Invercargill and the Bluff area and traveled up to Queenstown.  We stayed one night there catching up on some laundry, school and just down time.  We left making our way over the passes to Franz Josef.  It was a gloomy day with a lot of rain, it doesn't seem to damper the majesty of the nature all around us.  There are so many little things to see along the way as you are traveling the highways.  We don't often stop but when we do there seems to be little surprises every time we make the effort.  I wish I could put into words the beauty that surrounds us.  As we were crossing over our one way bridges, sharp 15km corners, rushing rivers, waterfalls, high cliff mountains starting just inches from our side of the road and drop offs on the other to the deep valleys below... I often try to grab a photo.  Many time it is too dangerous to stop the car, and when we do we are rushed or Chris has to move the car up so that I can stand on the side to grab a shot.  The kids just roll their eyes and tolerate my moans and sighs and comments of, "Oh that was amazing, I would have loved to get a picture of that" as we drive along.  Thank god for digital cameras.  I would have had to have been sponsored by Kodak if I did this trip years ago.  

The little Blue Cottage in Bluff

I finally couldn't take it and we stopped at a waterfall rest area called Fantail falls.  We walked out to the river and there on the banks were all these rock statues on the banks of the river that people have made while they were enjoying the waterfall.  It was such a cool sight to see so of course, mandatory participation of rock statue building by all of the Family Circus was in order.  Nice way to stretch your legs, and take a breather from the car ride.  The roads are so curvy that I get a little sick...

Tristan found a heart rock for me... 

Eat your heart out... :@)
We broke through the pass and were in Haast to drive along the ocean side for a little while.  Again it was still raining but it didn't stop me from getting my sand sample.  So we pulled over for only a few because the minute we stepped out I was annihilated by sand flies.  I tell you I have NEVER had an insect bite that was so itchy from these little bugs.  Not only are the extremely itchy, where you just want to peel your skin back, but the itch lasts for days and has these flair ups.  UGH!  Anyway I got my sand sample and in the mean time discovered that people had been writing their names or scratching their names into these white rocks on the beach and leaving them there.  I am still paying severely from this little stop, but it was worth...

We got into our house just north of Franz Josef and it is super nice and JC the owner is great.  It is nestled in the bush and backs up to the roaring river so you can hear it from the house... I love the soothing sound of rushing water.

 The forecast called for heavy rain for the next week here in this area so we figured that the heli-hike wouldn't be worth the money it would cost to take all 6 of us up there if we can't see anything.  We decided to take advantage of a short break in the weather on Tuesday to do our self guided hike up to the glacier.  We wanted to hike the Fox Glacier since you can get closer to it without a guide than the Franz Josef Glacier.  Unfortunately it was closed due to heavy flooding, washed out paths and unstable glacier...

You can see the kids in the upper right hand corner throwing rocks into the lake..
 I can will never get enough of these glacial blue lakes..Gorgeous!

As you are driving through the rain forest it is so amazing to look up and see these glaciers capping the mountains and flowing down the valley so close to you.  I can't believe they haven't melted as of yet.  It isn't cold at all where we are and there isn't snow all around us... They say because it is so compressed and hardened that it doesn't melt as fast.. Unfortunately, it is in a state of retreat right now and is losing a meter a day of glacial ice.  It was amazing and saddening all at the same time.  To see how much we are losing our glaciers and in the time span of the last 100 years... you can not deny the power of global warming.  As we are driving up to the glaciers they have signs along the way marking where the glacier was in the past, starting from 1750.  In the last 100 years has been the most significant with it retreating about 2 km verses about 1/2km from 1750 to 1935.  That is my estimation from the signs posted and driving/walking up to the glacier, it is dramatic.

My picture from the same lookout of the glacier today
Picture of Franz Josef Glacier in 2007

It is a short walk from the car park to the point of where the path stops because of dangers.  The path is constantly changing because with the heavy rains and the growing and retreating glacier the path gets washed out and/or rerouted up the mountain.  You start the path in the lush rainforest with waterfalls cascading down the rocks everywhere around you and lush vegetation and then it opens up into the glacier valley of just rocks and small plants.  Besides you is the roaring river that is a light grey clay color with large ice chunks the size of boulders being tumbled down amongst all the sediment and glacial flour...

Glacial valley view on the return from the glacier

Alina..... that doesn't look to stable!

Love the science here... Tree roots showing mechanical weathering at its best

The glacier is named after the Māori name Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere ('The tears of Hinehukatere'), arising from a local legend: Hinehukatere loved climbing in the mountains and persuaded her lover, Wawe, to climb with her. Wawe was a less experienced climber than Hinehukatere but loved to accompany her until an avalanche swept Wawe from the peaks to his death. Hinehukatere was broken hearted and her many, many tears flowed down the mountain and froze to form the glacier.  I love learning about all the local legends of each of the countries we visit.  

Reflection of glacier in Peter's Pool, the glacier used to be right on the other side of this pool in 1894, now you can hardly see it from here. 

Yes... my glacial sand sample of the crushed rocks lying everywhere

We have a lay over day to catch up on school and get ahead before our early start tomorrow to Barrytown for the kids Knife making class.  We have rain in our forecast for the next few days which is perfect for our inside activities and then the skies open up for Easter and our vineyard and Abel Tasman stay... We have been very fortunate and are very thankful for our opportunities to enjoy our surroundings in great conditions. 

Hugs and love to everyone,


No comments:

Post a Comment