This past weekend marked the first getaway weekend I’ve had in New Zealand, and it was an amazing trip to start out on. There’s anywhere from a few to 15 people in the Christchurch office and we’re typically here for a few months to indefinitely. Therefore, especially for the shorter term employees, weekends are spent exploring all New Zealand’s two islands have to offer. There is A LOT! One of my coworkers is heading back home to California in a few weeks and the last item on her “NZ bucket list” was to hike a glacier. Most of the veteran NZ employees have done this, but the 4 new office employees (including myself) jumped on the opportunity.
The five of us woke up early Saturday and packed ourselves into 2 of our lovely ford focus rentals, paid a ridiculous amount of money for gas (New Zealand is climbing to almost $7US/gallon), and headed across the island to the west coast.
We stopped in the small town of Hokitika for a lunch break and some quick shopping. I was given an extensive tour of the best shops to purchase jade jewelery (a native New Zealand stone, that can only be collected and sold by the Maori people) and found a great necklace. We also stopped in a possum fur shop. Possum hunting is encouraged since they are not a native species and are continually endangering the Kiwi bird. We figured we’d check out the fashion and were told possum socks were the way to go (versus wool).
Our coworker/guide extraordinaire expressed interest in checking out a short hike to Lake Matheson, we obliged and were not disappointed.
We continued on to our hostel which was outfitted with giant community kitchen and back porch hot tub. Sleeping was a bit uncomfortable, but for $26NZ/night, I’m okay with that.
The next morning we awoke early and gathered at the Fox Glacier guide building. We were outfitted with crampons, hiking boots, and any other clothing accessory we may have needed. We signed up for the “all day hike”, meaning we all assumed we were in “great physical condition” (Not a hike meant for the Mature Tour bus we saw pull up. Yes, it was really called Mature Tours. It looked like the minimum age requirement may have been 75).
We had our choice of three guides — the Minnesotan, the Icelandic female, or the Kiwi. We choose the Kiwi–he seemed he knew what he was doing. He took us for a fairly (almost too) slow hike through a mountain pass to get some good views of the glacier from above, and then spent a good 5 hours tramping over the glacier itself. I’ll let the photos speak for me.