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emandsi’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 11 Feb 2006

Location: South Island, New Zealand

MapHi everyone, it's been a while but we've been a little bit busy!

We arrived in Christchurch on the 30th January and expected to stay for about 4 or 5 days but due a nasty incident with a bottle of duty free, Simon lost a couple of days so we stayed for a week. Christchurch is nice enough with museums and a pretty cool cathedral but not a huge amount to do so we spent our time searching for winter clothing and camping gear for the next couple of months of living in the wilderness.

The Sunday following our arrival we travelled on the TransAlpine Train from Christchurch to Arthurs Pass. The TransAlpine has been voted one of the top ten train journeys in the world and it didn't dissapoint, the scenery was absolutely fabulous. The train dropped us in Arthurs Pass which is in the middle of the north of the Southern Alps where set up camp for 3 nights. Other than walking and mountain climbing there's not a huge amount to do so us being us decided to forgo the walking and jump straight into the mountain climbing and not just any of the easy mountains but a climb for experienced trampers. The mountain we chose is called Avalanche Peak and stands at 1833m at the summit which we reached after 4 hours and to our horror and humiliation we were passed several times by members of the blue rinse brigade (although to their credit they were an extremely fit and lively bunch). On several occasions we nearly turned back but due to the fact that we were climbing on ridges with sheer, death inducing drops either side and Simon having to go up on hands and knees at times due to his vertigo (didn't even know I had it) and Emma complaining about her wobbly legs but we continued on, reaching the top eventually and oh how happy we are we did, the views were out of this world, we've added some pictures for you all to look at but obviously they don't do justice to the real thing, 360o of beatiful valleys and snow capped mountains. Then the hard part, we had to descend! We decided that on our arses and with our eyes closed was the way forward, the whole trip took 7 hours 10 minutes.

The next couple of days we had to take easy due to the rigor mortis that had set into our thighs and calfs then we continued onto Greymouth where we were still convalescing so spent 2 days watching videos from the hostels extensive video library (and to be fair to us the deluge of rain didn't stop in all this time to the point where our tent leaked).

Next stop Franz Joseph (although on the way we stopped in a gold prospecting town where Emma panned for gold netting herself 4 flakes of the precious stuff). The Franz Joseph Glacier is is 10km in length and the ice is 200m thick in parts and squeezes between two mountains, advancing at 1.5m per day acting like a huge bulldozer gouging it's way through the valley, and what do you do with such a huge piece of ice, you climb it!! Unfortunately Simon hadn't learnt his earlier vertigo lesson on Avalanche Peak but obviously it's a lot worse when you're walking on a 1 foot path of ice with vertical drops into huge crevasses. It was pant stainingly frightening but queerly we're beginning to quite enjoy scaring the poop out of ourselves. Once we started getting used to the heights etc we had the best time on the ice and our companions on the tour were great too.

And that is where we're upto and we'll let you know when we do some more scary things but until then take care y'all!!

Love Emma and Simon