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Avec Amour : June 2015

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

New Zealand Travel Diary: Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier

After our beautiful road trip down the coast, we found ourselves in a heavenly little hotel in a cute little town! We stayed at Franz Josef Oasis and absolutely loved it. Modern, but comfortable decor, good location to town (but kind of on the outskirts so its scenic!), and even had a fireplace in the room! What's not to love? (And worth mentioning, their little breakfast is one of the best you'll find in this small town, as well as their amazing espresso machine!)

Franz Josef Glacier



We started out to explore Franz Josef Glacier. As you can see in the middle of this photo, the glacier was pretty close to the car park. I would guess we walked for about a half hour. We wore technical gear, but it was short and mostly flat. The last 5 minutes are so are on an incline, but nothing treacherous. I wouldn't even call this a hike, to be honest. But it sure was pretty!




You walk along what seems like a slightly dried up riverbed (there's still a small river running through it) up to the glacier. While you can't get ON the glacier anymore without a helicopter tour (which are close to $300 per person!!!!!), you can get pretty close! We were about a football field away after that 30 minute walk. Amazing!





Aren't those blues and whites incredible? These photos aren't edited... it was just that pretty in real life. And most photos (at least the ones with us in them) are not zoomed so you can see it was pretty close!




The glacier was retreating from the 40's-the 80's, and then hit a massive growth spurt between 1984 and the early 2000's. Since 2011, it's retreated immensely again (see the photo in this link between 2001-2011, then compare to the photos I've posted). There are several theories, one of course being global warming. But many believe this glacier will hit another growth spurt again in 20 years or so. With it's history of growth & retreat, I am kind of on the growth spurt side of the argument! Also, they've protected it against everyone climbing on it, so that should help, too.


There are several theories, one of course being global warming. But many believe this glacier will hit another growth spurt again in 20 years or so. With it's history of growth & retreat, I am kind of on the growth spurt side of the argument! Also, they've protected it against everyone climbing on it, so that should help, too.


There were tons of natural waterfalls, too! These are just from the snow melting :) So fun.


Fox Glacier


We did the Chalet View walk to Fox Glacier. Unfortunately, it was a really cloudy day, but this lush, tropical hike made up for it! It actually rained pretty hard at one point (lifesaver = rain jacket), but it kind of made it more magical. 




While this hike was a little steeper, it was nothing compared to Tongariro. While I still don't think you need a guide for this AT ALL, you should definitely wear layers and the right shoes. 


This was our view.... a little anti-climactic in the rain....but pretty majestic nonetheless. It was raining so hard when I took this photo! You can get much closer to Franz Josef than you can to Fox, but if you're in the area, I'd say this was definitely worth the pretty hike!




A few tips on visiting Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers:
  • If you have budgeted for the helicopter tour, and that's worth it to you - go for it. HOWEVER. Please note that we were told that heli's only fly about 40% of the time they're scheduled to go due to weather or foggy conditions. 
    • Some will transfer you to only a walking tour (which you could do for free, see below), some will only partially reimburse you. Please read up before you commit (or perhaps wait until the day you get there to sign up!) And keep in mind they start around $300 per person, up to almost $500.
  • If you are NOT going to do a helicopter tour, do your own tour. They offer "glacier walk" tours for $75 per person.... when you can do the same tour for FREE! There are some times it's worth having a guide, but this is literally a straight line from the parking lot to the huge glacier in front of you.. not hilly or hard, I think you can do it :)
    • These tours will NOT gain you access to the ice, unless you are paying over $300 for a heli tour or heli hike, or glacier ICE tour, do not expect to step on this ice. Just keep that in mind. 
  • Here is information on the free glacier valley walk for Franz Josef Glacier.
  • Here is the information on getting to the free Chalet View walk for Fox Glacier.
  • Here is information on all the walks in the region. If we had stayed longer, I definitely wold have done a few more! 
  • Visit the iSite in Franz Josef township to get a map with all of the trails when you arrive. They can also let you know if any of the trails are closed, if helicopters are running, and what the weather is going to be that day. Helpful folks!
Up next is another little road trip and the infamous Milford Sound! Eek!

Let me know if you're planning a trip to the Glacier Country, I'd love to answer any questions you have!
xo

PS - just for a laugh.....
Matt and I climbed on a boulder (maybe 5-6ft high) to get a good photo of the glacier over the crowd. There's this majestic glacier in front of them, and these tourists were taking pictures of Matt taking a picture. I couldn't help but capture them right back. I guess life does imitate art ;)


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Monday, June 15, 2015

This Week in Travel: Vol. 28

There are so many travel blogs & publications I read on a daily basis! Wanted to share some of my favorite links, articles, info graphics and tips from around the web this week.

I know I'm always saying how you should take vacation, and use up your PTO, and get out and see the world... but I truly believe it! A friend of mine works for a company who gives employees 30 days sabbatical after 5 years, and $1000 per year to fund their vacation (so $5k and 30 days paid vaca.... amazing). They are trying to prevent burnout! Why isn't this the norm? 


I really believe travel has the ability to change you and make you grow unlike anything else. 

What's your dream trip? Where have you always wanted to go? Let's make a plan and make your dream trip happen. 

I'm fired up about this. Seriously, if you have any questions for me about finding the right plane ticket, how to make a trip happen or anything else, PLEASE send me an email to: avecamourblog AT gmail DOT com - Let's use that paid vacation time wisely!

Hope your week is great!
xo

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Friday, June 12, 2015

New Zealand Travel Diary: Road Trip Down the West Coast (of the South Island)

Back to our regularly scheduled New Zealand programming....


After we left the Abel Tasman area, we had about a 6-7 hr drive ahead of us, as our next stop was Franz Josef and Fox Glacier area (more on that soon!), so we decided to make a true road trip out of it and stop anywhere that looked interesting along the way. Let's just say, a it turned into one of my favorite exploring parts of the trip!



The coastline is so beautiful there. It really reminded me of California or the west coast of Mexico (guess it's a west coast thing all over the world?!), with the big rocks in the water and jagged cliffs. Breathtaking! 




One of our biggest detours (only about 20 minutes out of the way) was to the Cape Foulwind Seal Colony. We literally just saw the sign on the highway and decided to see what was at the end of the road! While it's hard to see in these photos, there were cute little seals sunbathing and pulling themselves on the rocks. They were so fun to watch! Not to mention their little protected home was beautiful :)



Can't hate that view.... ;) You decide which one I'm talking about!



Our next stop was just too beautiful not to stop. I don't know exactly what this beach is called, but from what I can see on the map (if you wanted to find it yourself), it's in Woodpecker Bay right at the end of the Fox River. 



It had this beautiful rock that had been washed and weathered by the tides over the years. It was also covered in these amazing little baby clams (I believe). See above!





We were exploring the cave as the tide was coming back in. New Zealand has some of the most drastic tides I've ever seen in my life! 




We had to cross this little end of Fox River (this is where it ended!) to get over to the cave.... the water was actually a quite rapid and COLD! I was glad I was wearing shorts, the water was up to my knees! It was so worth crossing to explore this pretty little beach.



These next two below are just while we were DRIVING. We didn't even stop the car to get these snaps, it was just that beautiful.



Now, the only planned stop we had along the way (road trips are fun like that :)



The Pancake Rocks! I read about this somewhere and it sounded like the perfect spot to take a break and have a picnic lunch.




You were able to walk out on these suspension bridges and go out to see the "pancakes" up close. It was the most humid/tropical area we visited in New Zealand, even though we were getting further south. The bugs and humidity reminded me of Florida.



Nobody is totally sure why the rocks in this particular area are stacked the way they are... there are of course tons of theories. It's limestone, but that's about the only solid fact they have! The big waves come in and at certain times of day create "blowholes" up into the center of the rocks that have been worn away over time. It was so cool to see!



While I didn't get a photo of of this, there was also a great little picnic area to make our little sandwiches for lunch! Seriously, New Zealand, you make it easy to road trip.




LOVED our little road trip down the coast! Franz Josef and Fox Glacier are up next!
xo

*All photos were taken by me or my husband on our Fuji x30, and haven't been edited in any way... mostly because I'm lazy :) NZ is just that beautiful*

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