Monday, July 16, 2007
Franz Josef, South Island, New Zealand
Well, since our last encounter I’ve taken another flight and a 7.5 hour drive coast to coast of New Zealand. Yes, coast to coast in 7 hours over a mountain range with snow, rain forest and beaches all in the same drive! What a georgous country. I can see how the Lord of the Rings pulled of thier magic scenery here.
The drive here was a bit dicey after the sun went down. It actually frosts over here (as they say) .. which actually means melting snow runs across the road and freezes into black ice. They do a good job of staying on top of it with dumping sand on the ice, but in the PITCH black with only ever seeing 6 or 10 cars between 5:30pm and 7:30pm the roads did plenty of 16% grades and 180 degree hairpin turns with ice and gravel over pavement. Immagine seeing I-94 on a map in the states and then finding its a two lane highway with one lane bridges.. welcome to New Zealand! The left side drive and the right side steering wheel adds another challenge, but is all good mate!
Today it was up at 7am, stop by teh grocers and grab some ham and cheese and make some sandwiches for the hike. At the guides, I had to use thier rain pants, jacket, and boots which means I’ve been hauling around 6 pounds of gear for no reason 🙂 Oh well. We get on the bus and I chat up the couple from Oxford and then when we take off for our hike I have to relegate myself to the slow crowd becuase of my leg. Turns out to be brilliant decision as the guide that day was the head guide and he was a ROCK STAR. AJ was his name and he chatted me up as a solo hiker about everything from movies (he was an Orc in the Lord of the Rings – Two Towers), to real estate, to his family to work. What a great guy and a great guide!
Just had a great night with Marc from London, Dirvala from Irland, John from Irland and Mary and Norma from Irland. Most of whom were on my hike today. Had a great burger for dinner and now a bunch of New Zeland wine.. yes too much mom! Deal with it!
Anyway, tomorrow off to Queenstown for some bungee jumping hopefully.