After a lengthy drive down the amazing west coast we arrived in Franz Josef with time to book acitivities for the following day.  I choose the full day (8hours) glacier hike  - $145 with Stray discount.

Having comfortably completed the Tongarrio crossing wearing shorts I was confident I could do the Glacier hike in shorts, and besides my only other option was a pair of jeans – jeans are forbidden on the glacier.

A group of about 40 of us had a briefing at the base of the glacier and were told we would need to break into 5 groups, group 1 being the Pete Boardmans, group 5 the leisurely stroll.  Obviously being a keeno I went for group 1.  We were led by guides Dan (Yogi Bear – a colossal man) and Joe, a Brit lad from Darlington.  Arriving at the foot of the ice we put on our crampons, I found this itself really cool having never worn crampons!  And we definitely needed the crampons, squeezing between huge walls of ice balancing along icey ridges and climbing up slippery slopes.  It was a fresh experience and thoroughly enjoyable.

On the return walk Dan made things more interesting.  Dan found an iris (a tunnel through ice), a tiny tunnel which went down quite a depth and was a fair length.  He attempted to crawl through but the tunnel was too narrow, he didn’t have a chance.  He challenged a few of us to attempt it, most cowered but myself and a couple others took up the challenge.  Although not as big as Dan, I’m big and crawling through an icey wet narrow tunnel was pretty challenging with an ice cold pool of water I had to shuffle through and finally a 12ft vertical where you had to pull up a rope.  I got a buzz completing it so was well worth getting soaked!























Skydiving has been on my bucket list since I made the list about six years ago.  Before coming to New Zealand I was told by HODR friend, Lucy who has done the jump that the Fox Glacier skydive is out of this world.  And with it being ranked the 2nd best skydive in the world it was high on my list of priorities for NZ!

Fox glacier is round the corner from Franz Josef so I took the opportunity and booked a sunrise skydive with Skydiving NZ ($295) along with 5 other strayers.  At 5am we were picked up by the Skydiving NZ van and were driven to the Fox Glacier village.  The other strays seemed nervous but I was fine – I think this is due to me not being able to function in the morning.

Dressed in a yellow boiler suit looking like banana man I volunteered to go first.  The small plane only enabled two jumpers at a time with it being so small.  Taking off in the plane suddenly made the whole experience very real – in a commercial plane you never really feel what it is like compared to taking off in a tiny plane – feeling every single bump on the runway and hearing lots of rattles I was beginning to question what the hell I was doing.

The skydive takes off from Fox Glacier village and climbs over the West Coast’s rainforests with views of Lake Matheson and the Tasman Sea.  They fly you up to alpine altitudes, around Mount Cook and over the top of the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, giving you panoramic views of the most spectacular parts of the Southern Alps.

CJ my tandem had great pleasure in showing me his altimeter every thousand feet.  We were to jump at 12,000ft, at 11,500ft when the door opened and cold air rushed in I started to get slightly nervous.  But before I had chance to think we were hanging out of the plane ready to jump.  The whole thing seemed very surreal, so surreal that it didn’t really sink in and I guess that’s why I wasn’t shitting myself.  12,000ft JUMP!

The freefall seemed to last forever, air filling my face drying my mouth, the ground rushing towards us.  100% pure adrenaline!  45 seconds later the chute opened giving me a chance to take in the beautiful scenery but I didn’t really care I was gutted the freefall was over!

I expected the landing to be pretty heavy but I barely even noticed the touch down.  My legs shaking with adrenaline – that is the shit I thought to myself!

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Enter the South Island

14.05.2010

After recovering from my Tongarrio race I arrived in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital. I checked into Nomads, which I recommend, and spent a week working and in between checking out the city.  I didn’t spend much time exploring but the highlights were the Te Papa Museum, New Zealand’s national museum.  Also Cuba Street was cool, very [...]

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Tongarrio Crossing & Mount Doom

11.05.2010

After a glorious few days in Raglan I made my way to Turangi for the Tongarrio crossing – a difficult 19.4km hike.  The crossing alone takes about seven hours of steady walking and requires a good level of fitness.  I decided I would also conquer the side hike of Mount Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom featured in [...]

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