Secker Goes Globetrotting
26th May 2012
To Franz Josef & kayaking on lake Mapourika
I was excited about today. We were going to Franz Josef. The glacier walk on Franz Josef was the number 1 on my list of things to see and do in NZ!
You can imagine I had high expectations for the coming days. Plus - it was a 2 night stop which is always a bonus on these trips because you can get a little settled somewhere, even though its not for long. On the way from Mahinapua we stopped at a really random place called Pukekura and the Bushmans Centre. It's a small museum that shows how people made a living in the west coast over the years - mainly deer hunting with helicopters. The guy who runs it, Pete is definitely a character who does not mince his words. The museum cost $4 so it was silly not to pay the money really. The film we watched was pretty cheesy but basically deer were introduced to NZ by us lovely Europeans, they damaged the farmland and caused problems and then venison was discovered as being tasty so they started to hunt the deer. Someone somewhere realised that helicopters would make it all that more easier and a massive industry formed. When it became apparent that deer farms would be profitable, the locals developed technology to trap deer from helicopters and farm them. It was funny to watch at first but actually some of these guys died jumping from choppers to wrestle a deer. Also, as much as the film isn't there to glorify hunting and it doesn't, these people were making a living, after a while I started to find it a little disturbing. Traumatic memories of watching Bambi at the cinema (when it used to be where Asda is now those of you from Bexleyheath) and being distraught when Bambi's mum dies (wonder if my mum remembers that?!). Don't think I've watched that film since I was very young and as much as I love Disney, not sure I'll ever watch it again. I digress....after the film we could walk around the rest of the museum - they have Possums which are also a pest here - but the best bit was the random collection of signs - offensive and amusing - all over the place. Also worth a read are the complaint letters and his response to them - which were on open display by the warm fire. The general tone of the letters are of disgust at this guys lack of political correctness - his response is always rather non pc which is the most amusing thing.
We arrived in the little township of Franz Josef. First order of business was checking in for our glacier hike. We already knew that the classic hike wasn't an option because there's a hole in the glacier right where they take the tour groups and they're just not sure what it's doing so they won't take the risk - instead they send us up in a chopper and we get a shorter hike on the ice. Only 3 of us from the bus had signed up to do this and we went to check in.
We were greeted with a smile and a look that said I'm sorry but...sure enough, we were told that the weather forecast for the next day wasn't good and they expected not to be running the trip. We didn't pay anything just in case so with disappointment looming we got back to the bus. The majority of the bus were planning to do a full day hike on Fox glacier so we figured if Franz didn't go ahead then we could perhaps piggy back on the Fox trip.
I signed up for kayaking that afternoon on lake . I was told by a previous bus driver that it was beautiful. I'm sure it was but the low cloud and rain didn't really let up so I didn't get to really see it at its best. The kayaking was an interesting experience. I got paired with a young small girl who had never kayaked before and so I ended up at the back and with foot pedals to steer the thing. I've never used a Kayak with pedals before and you'd think that it would be simple. The right pedal steers the boat right and the left pedal steers it left. Simple. Yeah not to my brain - it took ages to get my feet to do what my brain was telling it, while paddling around (and although my companion got the hang of it I'm sure I had to paddle for two of us for a while!).
We crossed the lake and our guide Wayne gave us loads of info about how the valley was formed by Glaciers - of which I can remember hardly anything - I was too just trying to steer left and right! We went off into a narrow stream - i had finally mastered the pedals and then it all went to pot when I had to navigate tree branches and River banks!
It did clear a little on the way back so we could just make out the mountains in the distance but the wind picked up and so it was really hard work getting back. Apparently the way I paddle uses more energy than it needs to and I was exhausted. We fell behind and couldn't catch up. I had a moment of panic as the waves from the wind licked the side of the kayak and rocked us a bit too much. At the start our guide had said to the solo kayakers that if they tip they need to pull the skirt off (this keeps you dry) so you can swim out. He said to us - you don't need to worry, tandem kayaks don't tip. Actually they do - it did happen to me once before. So I started to panic a little. After a few stern words to myself I got that all in check and we just kept paddling away until we got back on shore. Wayne did come back for us which made me feel better if anything went wrong!
Included in the price of the kayak trip was dinner in the bar at our accommodation. I plumped for sausage and creamy mash pitatoes. They were questionable sausages and the mash was far from creamy, lumpy would have been a better deacription. It was free and it filled a hole. A few drinks and then it was early to bed as we potentially had a big day on the glacier ahead.
I thought it unlikely as we had rain and strong winds all night long.
|1190 Words | This page has been read 7 times||View Printable Version|