Steve and Mad's mini adventure travel blog

The Out-of-Bounds Franz Josef Glacier

The Weather Forecast (It's Tuesday today)

Quad Biking - Alternative Entertainment


The weather in Wanaka was lovely but by the time we got to Franz Josef it had taken a slight turn for the worse. It was hoofing down with rain and very, very cold. When we arived we were chatting with the man on the motel reception who said that 120mm of rain was forecast to fall in the next 24 hours which didn't bode well for our glacier hike that we had booked. That night it rained so hard you would almost have thought the world was coming to an end! We have never seen rain like that in the UK and it went on all night, plus a gale that came in about 4am and a thunderstorm at 5.30. It was obviously a bit freaky even for Franz Josef as we discovered our glacier hike had been cancelled which apparently hardly ever happens. It was cancelled because the rain had actually washed away some of the glacier face that we would walk on and also the rivers we should have been able to walk through had turned into raging torrents. Hmmmm. So, here we are in a tiny (and very soggy) place with nothing to do. We can't go on to the next place as we're booked into the motel for 2 nights and will have to pay whether we stay or not. We drove up to the car park near the foot of the glacier to have a look but a lot of the tracks were cloed or being closed as we arrived and it was so bleeding misty that you could hardly see anything anyway. Apparently there's some pretty good scenery around but we wouldn't know. Eventually we discovered that you can go quad biking (yes, even in all weathers) so we signed up for that instead. It was actually a lot of fun, you get about 2 hours biking with a tea & biscuit stop which we shared with some sandflies. The rain actually made it a lot more fun as the streams were large and the puddles deep. In other words we could make a lot of mud fly around and get wonderfully mucky. There is a point where you bike round a corner and get a splendid view of the glacier for a "Kodak" moment but typically we couldn't see a thing. Anyway we finished that, hung round in a cafe nursing a coffe for longer than anyone would think humanly possible and then went back to the motel to try and dry off. Not the best day!

The next day we had to do a really long 6 hour drive to Nelson at the top of the South Island. Progess we halted by some guy trying to get a very large load across a very small bridge - a bridge that was only a single lane wide and had a railway line down the middle. They go in for making the best use of things here. We waited about an hour for the road to clear. Steve had a good look at the map and worked out that the detour to avoid the bridge was a 12 hour, 600 mile drive!!! There aren't a lot of road round here.



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