Kiwi Style: Westport to Franz Josef

Next stop on the list after freezing my man-bits off in Lake Rotoiti was Bazil’s Hostel and Surf School, where the first port of call was, yep you guessed it, surfing… in the Tasman Sea… in the cold… again. All was not lost though after the absolute rib-cracking chills of the lake, the sea actually felt pretty warm – to me anyway, and probably the other 2 numpties who had also decided jumping into a lake was a good idea!

Let the surfing showcase – or should I call it circus – begin. After about half an hour or so of flapping around on our surfboards on the beach, whilst getting prepped by our instructors on how exactly this surfing malarkey works, we hit the waves. Or more accurately the waves hit us. It was barely the clean breaks and perfectly timed sets of waves you imagine. The Tasman Sea is a choppy fucker!

Seeing as I hadn’t “surfed” (attempted, and failed, to surf) since I was 18 and far too drunk at a surf camp in Australia; being more on the sober side of things this time round made life much easier for me. Although I am by no means “sick at surfing” I did manage to catch some waves and stand up quite a few times. After battling the relentless waves for what felt like hours, I am now slowly starting to understand why surfing becomes such an obsession/lifestyle for people. The feeling is pretty satisfying. Maybe some more surfing will be on the cards for me – I do live in Australia currently so it would probably rude not to indulge, but I won’t be growing my hair anytime soon.

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Back to the homeliness of Bazil’s Hostel and back to something I am pretty sure I can do better than surfing… drinking. Then off into Westport town – nothing to write home about (yet here I am!) – to experience the joys of old men in socks and jandals (sandals/flip-flops to you and me), irritating Canadians, and the liveliest place in the whole town – the “drug room” at Black & White bar. Never one to indulge in such things *cough cough* I had a relatively early night.

Onwards and southwards (is that a word??)… The next stop on my Kiwi journey, via a coastal walk at Cape Foulwind, was the Lake Manihapua Hotel / Poo Pub – A truly unique stop which is genuinely only able to stay up and running due to the daily influx of Kiwi Experience bus riders. Set in the middle of nowhere between the picturesque Lake Manihapua and the Tasman coastline, the Poo Pub is the ideal location to have a party, where everyone dresses up like dickheads (yes, I was dressed as an Irish Leprechaun) and tries not to cause too much trouble. After the arrival of a 50 strong cohort of regular Kiwi Ex travellers and a hearty roast dinner, the festivities began!

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The following morning, after nowhere near enough sleep and far too much alcohol, I rose (just!) to devour a heart attack worthy portion of pancakes, bacon and maple syrup before hitting the road again towards Franz Josef.

Franz Josef, home to the largest, fastest moving glacier in New Zealand was our base for 1 night. However, before I could curl up are recuperate a few hours of lost sleep, there was the small matter of the Franz Josef Glacier Guides: Ice Explorer trip, which was 4+ hours of fun and games, including a Helicopter ride up to the glacier, a 2 – 3 hour guided glacier trek through ice caves, then back down to Franz Josef for a soak in the glacial hot pools. Not bad eh?? The helicopter ride certainly woke me up a bit, and after donning a pair of crampons and stomping across a glacier, which was literally crumbling around us, I felt mighty fine! And… what better way to sooth those aching limbs after taking on a glacier than wallowing in a hot pool!

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After absolutely stuffing my face with all you can eat pizza, and being relatively amused that our Glacier Guide also moonlights as the pizza boy at night, it was time to call it a day and see what the next day brought us!

Here’s some more photos:

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