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Spring Break in New Zealand: Part 2- Franz Josef Glacier

We woke up early on Monday morning to pack Big Blue back up to the brim and take off for the west coast of New Zealand, through Wanaka, Mount Aspiring National Park, Haast, and farm country to eventually reach Franz Josef Glacier. It was again a nice sunny day which meant that we would be able to see the views out the window with spectacular clarity and without clouds covering the many snow topped peaks of the mountains that lined the road. The views were spectacular from the time we left Queenstown. We started out with a left turn onto a road marked scenic mountain pass route, and up we went into the mountains, past Cadrona ski resort and onwards to Wanaka, listening to my music of choice Atmosphere, Bob Marley, Citizen Cope, Incubus, and some Modest Mouse scattered throughout. I couldn’t help but think of the road trip that my Dad and I had taken from school earlier this summer and driving along the Sierra Nevada’s listening to my entire playlist of Modest Mouse. We reached Wanaka, a small ski town similar to Queenstown, nestled between more mountains and bordered by a large lake that was lined by the scraggly peaks. We made a quick pit stop for groceries before we headed to the next two very small towns where little would be available and we munched on some delicious cheese bread, a new favorite. ON the road again we drove into Mount Aspiring National Park where I spotted waterfalls and creeks with crystal blue water, all run off from the surrounding mountains. It just went on and on. You would take a turn away from one set of mountains and come around the next bend to be welcomed by another daunting peak. I was just ecstatic as we drove into the thickening brush and toward the rainforest of the west coast. We finally hit the coast and caught glimpses of the Pacific Ocean now from the Western side of New Zealand. It was incredibly blue and pristine with the cliff faces and surrounding ferns. We pulled into Franz Josef with just enough time to throw on some tramping clothes and go and check out the glacier.

Although we unfortunately couldn’t get onto the actual glacier without paying obscene amounts of money that the broke college student can’t afford we were able to get a very nice view of it and the natural scenery along the track up to it. It was stunning and I wish that I had known more about glaciers before going so I could have understood a little better about how something like what we saw forms. There was a huge plain of small carved out rocks leading up to the glacier which was situated between two large mountains. There were waterfalls coming off both sides of the surrounding hills and some very interesting curved rocks that looked like slides. We were able to walk up to what looked like an entrance into the glacier from which a creek was exiting and see some of that blue tinge associated with ice and glaciers. I was dying to say just jump the fence telling us that was as far as we could go without an experiences glacier guide, but I remained behind the boundary and marveled for a bit. We then proceeded to check out some of the waterfalls coming of the sides of the mountains and munched on Sonya apples on top of a nice lookout on the slide rocks onto the glacier. We left as the sun was setting just on top of the glacier and went back to our cozy looking hostel. We hit the bunk beds early that night so that we might hit the road early again in anticipation of tramping some more.

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