26 December 2009

FRANZ JOSEPH glacier 26/12/2009

After the 409 kilometres from Christchurch I am now in the village of Franz Joseph. Nearby are the glacial fields which cover 20 sq.km and can be seen from the township. I spent the whole day cycling heavy drizzle to arrive here (forecast was 120mm in 24 hours of rain) and have been rewarded. The icefield in my estimation should not exist. It is only at 46 degrees latitude and the greyish blue "lip" of this river of ice is only 300 metres above sea level! I didnt even have to pedal-climb to arrive here; the day being undulating hills and fortunately no cooling winds. How can such a block of ice exist? Just below it are waterfalls and a turquoise river flowing under it. Nearby are ferns and wetland forest. It doesn't seem far enough south nor high enough to exist. In the drizzle we caught tantilizing glimpses of the ice face and eventually gained a complete view. Mia from California accompanied me and together we took portrait photos. The water is wonderful to drink, it feels soft and carbonated and here it was gushing from under the glacier, its dull aqua color unique to the rocks of New Zealand. Photo taken on a misty late afternoon by Mia of Santa Cruz CA

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