Wednesday 27th May
Ah, the joy of leaving the heater on overnight! Warm as toast! Despite a thick frost all around us on this cloudless crisp day! We drove the short windy road to Franz Josef and walked the 2 km up to the glacier face. Again, stunning, but again worrying to see how far it’s retreated in very recent years. And in the storms of a couple of weeks ago a huge patch of bare rock has appeared near the bottom. But still an amazing sight, and we had a helicopter emergency rescue of a tourist from the path to entertain us too! (Charlotte thinks he’d been so shocked by my hair that he’d collapsed….) We spent a large part of the walk debating as to whether we should take a helicopter flight or not. Both of us desperately wanted to, but it’s just so expensive! If only West Yorkshire Police would pay me the money that they OWE me, then things might be different! Anyway, the victory went to the sensible option, so off we went to book a flight!!! After all, we may never be here again!!! (It may mean we have to live on Pot Noodle for the next 6 months, but, hey ho!) Could we afford to do it? No. But could we afford not to do it? NO!
BLOODY HELL!!!!!! That flight was incredible!!!! I’d have happily paid double for it! Even the pilot was telling us how great it was to be out on a day like today! And somehow we negotiated a 20% discount on the price! But seriously, it was unbelievable. We were sat in the two front passenger seats. Charlotte’s first helicopter flight. Out of Franz Josef along to Fox, then up Fox Glacier before swooping round to the top of Franz Josef Glacier where we landed and had 5 minutes playing on top of one of the world’s most famous glaciers! I could have stayed there for hours! This place gets 30m of snow a year! It was really surreal. For someone like me who loves the snow it was the world’s greatest playground. A definite bucket list tick (although I think my bucket is overflowing now). So glad we did it!
We celebrated at The Landing pub with a couple of pints of Guinness (nice, it seemed to have travelled well!) before driving just half a mile to our beautiful camp site, The Rain Forest in Franz Josef. Electricity and all-night heating again!
New Zealand. The Greatest Country In The World!
Thursday 28th May
Cold weather and clear skies again! We’ve driven to Hokitika today, an old town on the west coast. It was one of the original gold rush towns back in the 1850s, and the setting for the book The Luminaries (which I’m still struggling with…) To be fair, it still looks like a Wild West town and doesn’t have a great deal to offer to us, apart from a beautiful immense beach and a backdrop of snow covered mountains.
I’ve become a bit soft in the past week or so, with the overnight temperatures plummeting below freezing, so we keep paying to go into camp sites in order to use the electricity and therefore have all night heating! Pathetic! But once again we’re in a great site just set back from the beach, and it was brilliant to be able to go for a 5 mile run along the soft sand (bloody hard work) in shorts and t shirt.
Now, time for a rant – Dogs and dog owners. What makes it acceptable to a dog owner to let their dogs jump up on me? Personally, I don’t want a strange dog jumping on me, as you never know what it’s going to do. Doesn’t matter with dogs I know – Toby’s the daftest dog in Britain and hasn’t got enough brain cells to know better, Reina’s far to nice to do such a thing, and Butch Parnell would need a pair of stepladders just to reach anyone’s knees. But strange dogs, no. If I were to jump unexpectedly on someone and try to lick them, or bite them, then I would expect to be arrested. So why should dogs be any different? Getting a bit sick of it, especially when the owner just laughs. Imagine how I’d laugh while punching them very hard in the face….
Rant over. For now. Right, better go and watch another perfect sunset to calm me down.