As if going to New Zealand’s South Island for 10 days to do one of NZ’s the most iconic walks, the Milford Track, wasn’t enough, we made our way to Queenstown, adventure capital of NZ and the starting point for our trek, on a circuitous route through Glacier Country.  We could tell from the drive that we were in mountainous territory, but in the pitch black of Friday night all we could see were some serious hairpin turns.

The next morning, we woke up in Franz Joseph, a sleepy little town that literally moves at a glacial pace, and one look up told us everything we needed to know.  Massive towering green mountain peaks, with snow caps off in the distance.  We had arrived at Glacier Country, and we were off for a hike on Fox Glacier.

The glacial valley, with a decent view of the base of the glacier, is open to the public, but to really experience the beauty of the glacier you’ve gotta get on the ice.  We went on a tour with a fantastic guide, who took on an uphill climb through the rainforest in the glacial valley and down onto the ice.

For the next 4 hours, we traversed the icey blue peaks as our guide literally carved the way with an ice ax, roughing up the ice for traction and creating ice steps up and down the fractured faces of the glacier.

It was definitely the most unique hike I’ve ever been on.  The idea of hiking through the rainforest to get onto a glacier is crazy enough.  While it was tee-shirt hot going through the forest, once we were on the ice, a bone-chilling katabatic wind would periodically sweep down the face of the glacier.

And the ice itself – a contrast of snow white with incredible shades of ice blue – covered in piles of dirty grey rock to remind you of the awesome power that the docile and seemingly motionless ice you’re standing on can wield as it slowly scrapes down the valley, dragging pieces of the mountain along with it.

It was absolutely unforgettable.

There’s only one thing to say in closing… more pictures on the photos page!

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