Thursday, December 24, 2009

MERRY CHRISTMAS from Franz Josef!

We’re now in the township of Franz Josef, having left Christchurch with not a whisper about where our luggage is or when/if we might see it again. PACIFIC BLUE SUCKS BIG TIME! Jo took my Property Irregularity Report at the office on Monday morning & encouraged me to call for news, which I did during office hours. They simply stopped answering the phone & I was only able to get a recorded message—telling me the office hours were 9.00 to 5.00 and that they were sorry they couldn’t take my call and that I should leave a message—on Tuesday and Wednesday.

So, I’m over it. I’ve stopped calling now (well, it’s Christmas Day) and I’ve got used to my new cheap wardrobe.

I scooted around Christchurch for a couple of days taking photos. We crossed the Southern Alps on the Tranzalpine on Wednesday and it was breathtaking. Yesterday we walked on the Franz Josef glacier. It’s probably the most strenuous thing I’ve ever done, apart from pushing Alex out. (Well, perhaps it’s just the most strenuous thing I can remember doing. Perhaps when I was younger and stronger I did more physically difficult things, but I can’t remember any.) I don’t think I have too many more years left when I can think of attempting such a climb. But I’m glad to have worn cramp-ons on big old walking boots one time in my life.

Franz Josef glacier and its brother/sister, the Fox glacier, are the glaciers closest to sea level in the world, (just 300 metres above) and only 19 km from the Tasman Sea (or the ditch as we call it in our part of the world). It's quite comfortable, as far as temperature is concerned, to climb the glacier in the summer. Apparently Australia is to blame (to be thanked?) for the large volume of precipitation here: the glacier gets 7 metres of snow a year. Warm hot air comes across the ditch & hits the Southern Alps & can't go through them, so rises and forms precipitation when it hits the high cold air. Voila! Glaciers and a very wet west coast.

OK, got to get inside now. Am being eaten alive by sandflies & I can only access the internet from the office, which is now closed, so I'm sitting on the bench outside. More later.

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