Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lake Matheson walk, NZ

Heading back towards the cafe and the car (I had about an hour to wait before the cafe opened... so I got some nice reading in before a day full of driving)... I came out of the woods to this view of the mountains...

Whoa - cloudy. I was lucky to catch the view that I did on Reflection Island just 15 minutes or so before!

Pretty walk... almost coming up to the cafe at this p

Reflection Island at Lake Matheson, NZ

I made it to the spot halfway around the lake called 'Reflection Island'. It was gorgeous! A wonderful view of the lake reflecting Cooke Glacier and the mountains/trees.

I enjoyed the peaceful feeling and morning calmness at the point for a bit before continuing the rest of the way around the lake.

early morning walk - Lake Matheson, NZ

Some beauties from my early morning walk around Lake Matheson. It was a cloudy morning... but still lovely views. ...And considering how lucky I was with the weather throughout my time in New Zealand... this cloudy morning was ok with me.   : )

My first view of Cooke Glacier!
(the white line in the mountain... back and towards the right...)

Beautiful view... and not even to 'Reflection Island' yet!

eeearly morning walk - Lake Matheson, NZ

I got up at 4:30am the morning I was leaving Franz Josef to drive to Wanaka further south. Lenny recommended that I stop about 20 minutes down the road at Lake Matheson for the sunrise... if you walk to the back end of the lake, you are rewarded with a wonderful view of the Cooke Glacier and surrounding mountains, reflected in the lake.

Another perk of getting to the lake for sunrise is that the wind has not picked up yet and is not causing ripples on the water to mess up the clarity of the reflection.

I arrived at Lake Matheson and it was still dark out but slowly becoming lighter. I walked the 2.6 km 'Lake Matheson Circuit Walking Track'... it was nice BUT, again, I don't like going on hikes alone. This wasn't really a hike but just a leisurely, flat walk... but it was through the woods (most of the time I could not see the lake)... and in the dark... well, I didn't love that part.  :P  I concentrated on eating the apple I had brought for breakfast and was thankful that I had packed a headlamp!

The Lake Matheson Cafe... lovely building with lovely food!

First view of the mountains behind the lake... and growing lighter...

Monday, January 21, 2013

Franz Josef Glacier Hike 5, FJ, NZ

HA! There were some tight squeezes along our hike...

Trusty guide with an axe! ...and steel 'legwarmers' in case there is a slip...

Walls of ice!

...And then we came upon this stumper...

Hilariously, Chris -our guide- just meandered through this spot like it was nothing... the rest of us laughed our way through this attempt...

The tricky part of it is the piece at the bottom... we somehow had to get our feet over the connection on the bottom... while bent over to get under the top part AND in all of our warm gear. Hilarious...

Franz Josef Glacier Hike 4, FJ, NZ

I mentioned the dirt on the ice in a previous post... but even more interesting to me was the blue ice!

Apparently, all ice is naturally blue. ...But when exposed to sunlight, the ice loses its blue coloring and looks white. The blue ice that we saw on the glacier hike was recently exposed... or hidden within a cave-like hole to keep the coloring... very cool...

Bright blue inside the cave of ice! (And currently melting...)

Bright blue within the crevice...

Franz Josef Glacier Hike 3, FJ, NZ

More photos from the Franz Josef "Ice Explorer" Glacier Hike!

Franz Josef Glacier Hike 2, FJ, NZ

Hiking in a glacier was pretty cool. 

Our guide, Chris, said that the ice looks so dirty because in each rain drop there is a dirt particle that the drop forms around... when it lands on the ice, the dirt is then exposed. (Also... the mountains around the glacier create dust and dirt whenever there is a rock slide or something.)

Our group... (I was the caboose for a while)

That's a pretty big pile of ice considering how small that person is!

Tiny people that just got dropped off by the helicopter in another group...

The guides use axes to cut steps like these into the ice for us hikers...

just going hiking in a glacier is all... FJ

The Ice Explorer Glacier Hike was definitely a high-light of my trip in New Zealand!

There used to be a full-day hike into the glacier, in which you hiked through the valley and back as well. Now, it is a bit (a LOT) more expensive and includes a helicopter to and from the glacier! The helicopter ride is awesome... but also makes the hike a lot safer instead of walking through the valley where rock slides do happen now and then.

Our guide, Chris, making room for the helicopter to take off...

Pretty amazing...

The helicopter looks like it will run into the side of the mountain as it takes off and turns back toward town... but apparently it has plenty of room.

Starting our hike further into the glacier and away from the helicopter landing pad...


helicopter ride - video, FJ, NZ

Below is a video as we take off from the Franz Josef Glacier to head back into town after the hike...

I wish the video I took heading to the glacier came out... but I have found that the video is zero seconds long. D'OH!

helicopter glacier views, FJ, NZ

I was treated to spectacular views of the Franz Josef Glacier while on the quick helicopter ride from the town to the glacier!

My first glimpse of the glacier!...


Can you see the tiny people??? ...Ahead and on the left.
The glacier looked big and all...
but when I then saw the teeny tiny people I realized just HOW MASSIVE it really is!