Tuesday, 1 June 2010

NZ Holiday - Day 3 - The Near-death Glacier Hell-ride

The views in New Zealand are unrelentingly spectacular in almost every direction. Mountains, rivers, historic landmarks, 10,000 possum fur shops. The mountainous terrain was such a novelty for us. In fact there were only a couple of flat bits scraped out by glaciers which I judiciously used to gather up a bit of speed before serpentining our way up and down the next range.

And thusly, we found ourselves at Fox Glacier.

Nita and Eric were very keen to see a glacier up close. Anticipating their enthusiasm we’d already booked a Heli-trek, inadvertently implicating us in attempted murder! The prospect of an early inheritance for Jules was not our motivation.

Now I have reiterated this apology several times, but once again Nita and Eric - WE DIDN'T BLOODY KNOW IT WAS GOING TO BE LIKE THAT.

Some of us scoffed at the backpackers whom we watched slogging their way up to the glacier the hard way. Pfffffttt. We hired a Helicopter - just like the poor people didn’t - and enjoyed an 8 minute, comfortable ride up to the glacier’s guts.

Then it got weird.

The Heli part of the experience was an extremely fun and adrenaline inducing ride, but then the buggers kicked us out of the chopper onto slick, and very unflat, ice. My imaginings of a quiet, mystical experience promenading across the glacier became a flat-out fight for survival as the chopper’s down-draft slides us towards the nearest crevasse. This is something I’d be more comfortable watching some other clowns do on TV. But we were the circus here and no doubt my ice dancing provided tremendous amusement to the Chopper pilot. He ensured we were all well and truly battered into the ice before finally lifting off in any case.

We endured this four more freaking times as load after load of annoying tourists were brought to what I was swiftly realising would not be our private patch of icy paradise. The guides, finally realising the cause of our frantic flailings reluctantly handed out crampons.

Our tour guide was a fit, young chick who set a cracking pace into the steepest, most rugged ice-scape I’ve ever seen. She seemed quite oblivious to the fat, old and scared. That described me fairly well. Dunno how everyone else was coping. I didn’t care. I was concentrating on not going arse up and stabbing myself in the eye with a crampon.

We saw some amazing stuff amongst the higgledy-piggledy ice chaos. Certainly raised itself from the lowly rum and coke cooling substance I was used to handling. Utterly worth being stripped of our dignity and the effort involved. If we’d been better informed regarding the physical requirements we definitely would not have done this tour, and yet I am very glad we were duped or we would have missed the highlight of our trip.

Go to Day 4.

Go back to Day 1- The Airport/Customs/Flight/Airport/Customs Horror.

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