Ice Hiking on the Franz Josef Glacier
When we embarked on this trip, we had a slew of reasons to give up our jobs, our apartment, and our way of life to travel extendedly. And while all those reasons still stand, we’ve found this trip isn’t just about seeing exotic locations or even just about learning new skills like farming and alternative living.
Our time in New Zealand is really about making connections with people.
Before we left, Drew felt like God was telling him this next year would be a year of connections. We knew we would be connecting with different host families while we were traveling, but I’m not sure we expected our connections to impact us quite as deeply as they have.
And we’ve made some pretty crazy connections as well.
You might remember how we met our hosts in Kerikeri because I got stung by a wasp.
Then we stayed with Julie and Dave in New Plymouth because she came to Memphis for a tour of Graceland and met the 12 year old me at a dinner hosted by the Mustangs of Memphis.
After visiting Equipper’s Church in Auckland, we wanted to visit their Wellington campus as well. Not only did we meet a NZ sign language interpreter there, but a sweet girl named Jess invited us over for lunch, and an awesome guy named Alistair offered to let us stay at his flat the next night.
When Alistair heard we wanted to visit the glaciers in the South Island, he connected us on Facebook with a friend of his from Michigan, Justin, who leads glacier hiking tours at the Franz Josef Glacier.
So Justin invited us to stay with him in Franz Josef!
We’re so blessed to call him a friend now. When we arrived, he took us out for dinner, then showed us one of his favorite places–a chapel tucked away in the woods. There really isn’t any Christian community in Franz Josef, so it was great to connect with Family like this and encourage him. We came back later and took some pictures of the view.
Justin wasn’t able to get off work to take us up on the ice for free, but his boss let us join the full day tour for free anyway!
It was a bit rainy (but the west coast gets 200 days of rain a year, so that’s not really abnormal). 7 hours of hiking to the glacier, on the ice, then back again made for a loooooooong day, but what an incredible experience it was!
Franz Josef is one of only 3 glaciers in the entire world that exists right next to a rainforest. The other 2 are Fox Glacier (just south of Franz Josef) and Patagonia in Argentina. Franz Josef is also the steepest commercially guided glacier in the world!
(If you are in an email/rss reader and can’t see the short clip of Drew climbing up steps on the glacier, click here!)
To put it lightly, we were both exhausted after a full day of hiking! We had to wear the boots they provided, along with crampons to keep us from sliding on the ice, which made for ridiculously heavy feet and blisters later. But we also got free entry into the glacier hot pools to relax afterwards. We both almost fell asleep in there!
View more pictures of our experience on Facebook!