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Friday, September 29, 2006

Day 136 - Franz Josef Glacier

new zealand We spent the night in Westport - a cute village in the northern reaches of the west coast of New Zealand. After an early rise at 10 (ha! early rise - sorry you workaholics), we jumped in the laser and headed to the first of 3 stops on today 6 hour coastal road - the seal colony. FYI, the colony is located at Cape Foulwind. Yep.

The beach was nice, and the seals were CUTE. My personal favourite looked like it was dead, lying in the sun on its back, on a massive rock, until it moved its legs to stroke itself about 30 times. I love it when they do that. 10 minutes there, and the seals became a bit boring, so we jumped in the car and headed south.

This time, just 30 minutes later, to the Pancake Rocks. These badboys are a series of rocks which stick out from the cliff, around a massive blowhole (about the size of a small school). The rocks were pretty - very photogenic since the overload of photos on my flickr - and the wind off the ocean made the place a little bit magical. I trotted round the blowhole, snapping photos at every angle, and dreamt of being on a deserted island in the middle of nowhere, with no other tourists around to spoil the view. I wasn't - there were shed loads of them - but I can dream.

And then 3 hours later, anna driving like a manic, sam talking incessantly ("dave emailed me today"), and eve and I playing hangman in the back, anna nearly crashed the car and drove down a one-way bridge at the wrong time. because we saw THIS...

[check out the tiny people at the foot of this picture...]

Out of nowhere, looming out between the mountains, was my very first glacier. And it was GOOD. We decided to hop out of the car and have a closer look. And after walkig 10 minutes, the view wasn't satifactory. We had to be CLOSER. And closer we went. We walked for 20 minutes, over rocks, boulders, freezing cold streams of glacial meltwater, dirty grey mud and fenced off danger-zones, we got as close to the front of the ENORMOUS glacier as we could.

Now, I've seen photos of glaciers. I've studied them. I love them. But being up close - that's different. Man, its huge. So huge. And almost looks JUST LIKE ITS MOVING. And its craggy. And its colourful - blues and whites and greys. It was mindblowing. And we weren't even on it. So with that, we drove to the next town, at the foot of another glacier, and booked ourselves on a GLACIER HIKE the next day. Oh, and a skydive. But more on that next time...

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