|Franz Josef is a real tourist town and you can see why, it's beautiful. Keith loved it so much he applied for a job as a helicopter-loader but hasn't got the right visa. We stopped just outside the town and went for a bush-walk along a glacier-fed river...freezing.
Decided to finally start doing some adventure activities and we did some glacial hiking. Claire opted for a half day hike as her knee was playing up and she jumped at the chance of having a day away from Keith (the van is small after all). Keith went for the full day and set off at 8am with cramp-ons and ice axes and an ex-forces guide (Troy) who was a bit mental. It's absolutely beautiful up there and we were really lucky with the weather for a change! The clouds parted and the sun shone through and the glacier looked oh so blue. It's like an alien landscape with huge spikes of ice and blue ice crevices with cracks and tunnels opening up on a daily basis as the glacier constantly changes. It is moving at about a metre a day! Keith's group were 'free-hiking' which was hard-work but with cramp-ons you feel like spiderman and can walk up near-vertical walls of ice. It's really cool (no pun intended) and we discovered a new ice cave that the german guys in the group named The 'Arse' Hole and Keith was the first one through it!!
Claire had an easier time, getting chatted up by her guide Brad. All in all it was a knackering but satisfying experience.
Next day we ventured out of rainy Franz Josef, with Keith kicking and screaming cos he wanted to set up a new life as a glacier guide and headed to Lake Matheson. Nothing special really, beautiful and tranquil. You'd love it if you were a meditating buddhist monk i suppose. We then made our own way up to Fox Glacier, it looked impossible to climb so we just admired it from as close as we could get until massive lumps of ice the size of small cars started falling from it. Scary stuff. We then left for Lake Wanaka.