Glaciers and a giant knob.

After leaving Greymouth we were super excited to head down to see both the Franz and Fox glaciers. We stayed at the MacDonald section of the Otto/ MacDonald DOC campsite and wished we had arrived earlier to stay on the other side. The toilets are way better for the same price! The views from the lake on the campsite were lovely and showed us a glimpse of what we would see on the following few days.

Lake view (captured badly on my phone):

Lake views

Franz Josef

The town itself was heaving, this was a perfect place to play the Jucy vehicle spotting game that my friend Emma introduced us to (My lead has remained to this day). With the glacier itself just out of town, and pretty much all of the activities available way out of budget, we decided to just go on an easy walk 5km up to the glacier. Now I know that memories change over time and that when you’re younger things often seem bigger and more impressive. I was starting to think that 13 months on the road had dented how awe struck I could be, that was until I saw a sign post explaining the quick shrinking speeds of the glacier, this news article has some cool photos showing the retreat.

Franz Josef glacier

The glaciers are shrinking at a fairly fast rate and the difference within eight years is massive. The glacier itself is still impressive and i’m glad we got to see whilst it is still this size. It won’t be long before you can’t see it without taking a helicopter up. We also made the short walk out to Peter’s pool, definitely worth it for some nice reflective photos.

Franz Josef glacier

Fox glacier and leaping from a plane.

After 3 nights of camping we were reaching our showerless limit and knew that our time in glacier country was soon up. That resulted in us having a very adrenaline fueled day, which included leaping out of a place at 13000ft and also going to see the Fox glacier.

Fox glacier:

Fox glacier

We chose to sky dive at Fox mainly cause it is the cheapest, there might be an old issue regarding a crash that I tried to prevent Pinion from reading. It also gave us the opportunity to jump out of a plane with views of both glaciers as well as Mount Cook, sort of combining a scenic flight with 1 minute of sheer terror. I have done a tandem skydive before so opted out of the photo/video package. Instead I am including some of Pinion’s best, she was trying to keep these ones hidden.


So excited (I am in the background – just proving I did actually do it) :

Fox glacier skydive

‘Ooh mountains’:

Fox glacier skydive

View from the plane:

Skydive over Franz Josef and Fox glaciers

Climbing Alex the knob.

Between our days visiting the glaciers and throwing ourselves out of places we had a spare day. I thought this would be a good day for a walk and so looked at our map of the area and told Pinion which one I fancied doing. I spotted the word challenging in the description and decided that this was the walk for us, it would be good preparation for the Kepler track which we would be walking the following week. The humorous name (at least to me) was in no way any influence on my decision, honest. And so, we were to walk up to Alex knob. It peaks at around 1300m, making it a mountain in my books.

Alex knob walk

People had left reviews saying that the walk was a bit dull and the never ending forest was quite monotonous, as was the seemingly constant climb. Luckily the views really were worth it. There are 2 view points that you’ll reach before  you descend further into the forest and eventually reach the summit. They are like little teasers of your approach. The walk itself involved a lot of climbing up tree roots and big rocks. It was pretty sweaty business.

Pinion on one of the climbs:

Alex knob climb

We were passed by the occasional mad runner and also passed a couple of older people but mainly we had the route to ourselves. With Pinion starting to grumble louder than my stomach we eventually made it to the top, where we celebrated with lunch and lots of photos. The view of the Franz Josef glacier was really good and we were pleased we made it before the clouds rolled in. Then we had to head back down, 3 hours of rather monotonous downhill that were boring enough to live through once and so I will stop blogging about it!

View from the top:

Franz Josef Glacier

Alex Knob

Alex Knob

Alex Knob

Following our fun packed day at the Fox glacier we drove to Wanaka, the nearest town with available accommodation and indulged in a hot shower before hitting up their super cool cinema and Puzzling World.

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