MP3 track of the day: - The Black Rider - Lord of the Rings
I got up a little later than I had planned; my early night last night didn't really work out as three people came into the dorm shortly after I had got into bed. I said that they could put the lights on if they wanted as they were packing to leave tomorrow … what I didn't say is that they could then talk for the following hour.
Anyway so I got up, washed and visited the information office to check the latest weather report … all good. I started my walk towards Franz Joseph's glacier, just like yesterday, however after about thirty minutes, I turned off my track from yesterday and went across a large swing bridge to start the walk I had chosen for today, the walks name was 'Roberts Point Track'.
The only information that I had seen on this walk was that it should take five hours to get to the viewing point and back again, oh and my map said that you 'climb via a rocky track and swing bridges to a high view point above glacier'. Rocky, ROCKY … understatement of the century. What the information failed to mention is that there was also some river hopping (not up to the dare devil standard of Alex's river hopping walks) to complete and one swing bridge which had a maximum load of one person. I felt a little nervous walking crossing this bridge as it starting swinging in all directions and there was quite a drop below me. At another point on the walk there was just a sheer cliff face with small foot holes that you had to use to climb up to get back onto the track. Finally there was a set of steps that actually went around the edge of a hill displaying your fate below them, in all it's glory, if you made one foot error. I started to sing the Indiana Jones theme tune.
This walk had to be one of the most shattering I had ever done, it was also pretty sole destroying in that, at the beginning of the walk, you descended nearly as much as ascending up the hill. This meant that you were putting in all the hard work but not gaining any height benefit, something that would happen in one huge go much later into the walk.
Just as if the above wasn't enough, at this stage of the walk you were greeted with shinny flat areas of stone with only a few footholds; add to that some water flowing over the rocks making it very slippy indeed. At the beginning of the walk I said to myself that if I met any of the above conditions I would turn around as it would be to easy to slip and side off the track. However I had gone so far that my 'British Bull-dogness' over took commonsense and I scrambled (on all fours at some points) up the final part of this hill. I knew that the way I was climbing would be the way I would have to descend, back to my hostel, but I tried not to worry about that for now, my only concern was getting to the view point of 'Roberts Point Track'.
Exactly two and a half hours after starting this track I had made it to the summit. At this point you are about 2/3rds of the way up the glacier, which is on your right. The viewpoint gave great views of the glacier itself but, due to a lot of bushes, the view was a little obscured. I was also not massively happy due to the fact that I had brought my tri-pod and, photowise, this wasn't a good spot.
With the sun beating down I only spent fifteen minutes at the summit, looking at the glacier and having a drink plus something to eat; I then started the decent. Oh my way up I had only met one couple walking this track, on the way down I had met about another ten idiots attempting this walk. Most asked me how far did they still have to go and I tried to give them an accurate description (unlike those Germans yesterday).
It took me just less than two hours to decent fully; it was now 3:15pm and, with my feet hurting, I headed back to my hostel. I was still deciding what I should do tomorrow; there was an eight hour walk with, apparently, stunning views or do I do a glacier hike? I was thinking that I could extend my stay here for another day and do both; however one major problem has come into play. So far the weather has been beautiful here but, when I read the weather report at the tourist site today, Sunday until next Wednesday is supposed to be a continual downpour of rain.
Therefore I have decided to leave Franz Joseph on Sunday and not stop at Fox Glacier as planned. Instead I'll head to either the city of Queenstown or the town of Wannaka for the bad weather, before continuing my journey south to Milford Sound. However the problem of what to do tomorrow still remained … hike or a glacier hike? After speaking to the lady at the tourist office the hike sounds quite strenuous, but she said that the views were well worth it. Sorted, I shall be doing the Alex Knob trek tomorrow, an eight hour round trip … lovely.
So would I recommend the trek I did today. If I'm honest no; it's a lot of hard work for not a very rewarding view, certainly your photos won't be that good … hopefully the hike tomorrow will produce much better views.
Once I had left the tourist office I headed into town to have a look in some souvenir shops for some photo books. Unlike Fiji the quality here is very high and there were at least two books that I wanted to purchase. I didn't buy any books and instead I decided that I would have a think and decide later, for now I headed back to the hostel.
After a quick shower and change of clothes I headed back into town to purchase tea; a great big meat pizza that'll do. Unlike the last time I bought a pizza to cook in a hostel I had already checked to see if there was an oven available; twenty minutes later my pizza was done and a further thirty minutes after this it was eaten (bar one slice as I was full). Tonight will hopefully be an early night (fingers crossed) as I'm pretty tired and tomorrow's hike will be one of the biggest I've done so far (so I need to get up early).
I've now been in New Zealand two weeks and apart from phrases which include the word 'sweet' (such as 'sweet as', 'that's sweet', 'that's sweet bro' etc) nothing else is really annoying me … oh one other thing, as warned by Sarah, is that shops here close very early. Last night I was about to go to the local supermarket at 8pm to get some tea, however it was shut and their was only one fast food restaurant open, and that closes at 9pm.
One thing I haven't talked about yet is all the travelers I keep bumping into. There are two Irish guys that I first met in Wellington, then Nelson and are now here in Franz Joseph. There both really nice and, whilst in Nelson, we played a little table tennis and watched a film. More amazing is that I've met a girl today who I last saw in LA, over a month ago! I had a quick chat to her before she headed off to get her bus. This is one of the things I love about traveling, all the people you meet over and over again, sharing each others stories.
I love the terrain, it's so beautiful here on the west coast of New Zealand. One slight disappointment is the lack of wildlife around the country. New Zealand has a lot of wildlife but it's mostly native bids which, even though make a forest sound great as you walk through, are very difficult to spot. Unlike Canada and Alaska, you won't see bears or bump (literally) into Elk, Moose or Caribou. However this does have it's benefits as you don't have to check park offices for recent bear sightings. The people are great here, once you can start up a conversation, and are more than willing to help you. Another good thing is that I'm still well below my budget with my daily average at £36 per day.