Australasia | New Zealand | South Island | Fox Glacier – Fox Glacier and back to Christchurch
Continuing the calm vibe as started in Wanaka our stay over at Fox Glacier was pretty low key. A coffee at a cafe and a drink at the one bar still open after 10. Next morning I left Dianne the birthday girl waiting for her antibiotics to kick in and went on a half-day walk on the glacier. First things first, this is when I learnt that a glacier is in fact a frozen river (yeh I had no idea – though it was a name for a snow capped mountain – duh!). The half day hike up to the glacier meant we got to walk on it using crampons and sticks and told to walk like a man (scratching optional). We could have done a heli hike which took you up to the top or neve of the glacier and explore caves and cool things like that but apart from being v expensive and booked out I liked our hike as I felt we got a really good explanation from our guide. Before getting to the glacier we actually walked a steep climb through rainforests which confused me. Apparently Fox Glacier, its neighbour Franz Josef together with some glaciers in Chile are the only glaciers to exist along side rainforests. Im only a beginner but this doesn’t surprise me because its totally wild to have an environment warm enough for a rainforest near such a cold environment as a glacier.
My last night spent in a hostel in New Zealand was spent in Greymouth, the place where we were to catch our train the next day. As it would seem from the guidebook, all of the hostels there are themed – we stayed at Noahs Ark backpackers where each room is a different animal. We were in the leopard room – grrr. They also have the famous $3 all-you-can-eat BBQ at the local railway hotel. This all sounds nice but it is soon pretty evident that there is a lot of overcompensation going on here. As Dianne said – she would never look at Newark, New Jersey as ugly again. The hotel itself was so grim that we ended up going back and celebrating Diannes birthday by watching the Oscars (in normal time!) in the comfort of Noahs lounge.
Next day (my last day in New Zealand – boo hoo) we hung out in the morning and then caught the Tranzalpine train that afternoon. Unlike the Tranzcoastal it was pretty full as there were lots of old biddies on a daytrip from Christchurch. Dianne and I escaped to the viewing carriage where we met the other two young people on the train – Adam and Rob from Chicago – and proceeded to have a good laugh with them till Christchurch. The view was quite amazing but by this time we were having too much of a good time to do the whole camera thing as we probably should of! Once in town we checked into a hostel (well I just left my luggage) and then went into town. I am yet to see Christchurch during the day but I have now spent two excellent evenings out there so the impression stays good with me. Cutting a long story short rather than stay the night at the airport I left the karaoke bar where we ended up at 3 oclock and got a cab to the airport.
I was of course exhausted but didn’t really realise until security discovered that Id left my penknife, cutlery knife and nail scissors in my hand luggage and duly confiscated these dangerous items. On finding out that no they could NOT be mailed to me and they would just be incinerated I promptly burst into tears wailing wasn’t it bad enough what those b*&%ards were doing back at home?! Of course this just made the security guard looked at me wondering what else I might have that wouldn’t be safe in my hands while I stood there with that old mother adage shes so tired she doesn’t know what to do with herself resonating in my head.
And so thus ended my wonderful trip to New Zealand, otherwise known as Godzone (i.e. Gods own land). Maybe it was just the first real holiday Id had in 7 years (or at all?) or maybe it really is such a special place – I definitely found it worth the money and the distance. Then again perhaps holidays are all about where youre coming from as much as where youre going. I was talking to Dianne who said that so far shed actually preferred her Asia trip – the negotiating, totally different lifestyle, meeting totally different people and it got me thinking. I am probably closer now to being ready for that kind of break having been away for a few weeks, but I know that at first, coming from Israel it was such a relief to be in a place that things will happen when theyre supposed to, I dont have to negotiate on everything, I can feel pampered even at a hostel level, and yes the biggest headline is going to be that the Aussies are trying to host the rugby world cup by themselves. Even the people I was meeting, that were predominantly English/ European supposedly from similar backgrounds to me – as someone who led most of my life in predominantly Jewish circles when in the UK and lived in Israel all my adult life they were almost as exotic and unknown to me as a person of any age or nationality could have been. Sad and sheltered perhaps but at least Im getting a small chance to fix that now.