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Heli Hiking the Franz Josef Glacier

Published February 25th, 2012

Closing your eyes and listening to the chug-chug-chug of helicopter blades you could be forgiven for thinking you were on the set of Apocalypse Now. But as the chopper disappears down the valley leaving me sitting on a glacier, fastening crampons to my feet the only noise I can hear is the ominous creaking of the ice beneath me. That and the odd rockfall that the guide tells me is normal for this time of year. It is very peaceful but also eerie. Seracs, huge columns of ice formed by intersecting crevasses, tower above us, streams of water trickle by before disappearing into endless holes in the ice. Recent melting has opened up a seam in the middle of the icefall where rock spews out, blackening some of the ice that frame electric blue caves.

The Franz Josef glacier sits on the West Coast of the South Island in New Zealand. Nearby you can find Fox Glacier and Mount Cook and Tasman. The glaciers are unique as they originate in the Southern Alps but flow down into the temperate rainfore ...

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