Weekly photo challenge: Foreign (5) – glaciers

Yes, I know there is a new photo challenge. But I like things to be done in fives or sevens, depending on what type of week you work.

So here is the final foreign pic. A glacier in fact. A real live dirty ice glacier in New Zealand.

This one is Fox. I think.

NZ has two glaciers on the South Island, Fox and Franz Josef. They are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I first visited back in 1985. I’d cleared off to NZ on my own to decide whether or not to get married. I made a pros and cons list and the cons list was longer.

Travelling around the wet gloomy wintry South Island, I found my way to a youth hostel at Franz Josef. Where, to my total surprise, I met someone from university. What on earth was he doing there? I wondered. He probably wondered what I was doing there too.

He was always a bit sleazy at university but he seemed to have improved slightly. We chatted a bit, and that was it. Interestingly he had the same name as someone from the local boys grammar school who was most definitely NOT sleazy and was extremely attractive. With a couple of mates, he turned up at our house one evening (no idea why) and my father fed them beers and refused to let me go out with him. Sad face. Shame I didn’t meet him in the youth hostel, only his boring namesake.

The only reason I can hazard a guess at which glacier is which is because of the youth hostel location. I only saw the one near the hostel on my first visit. And I wandered through the rain forest near the hostel. Aptly named as I didn’t wander far because it was raining.

Fast forward to the 90s and I’m visiting NZ with my partner (the one referred to above on the pros and cons list). This time we went off to look at Fox.

Apparently Fox and Franz Josef were originally named Albert and Victoria by Leonard Harper who crossed Harper’s Pass in 1852 and decided to name the two glaciers after the British queen and her consort. Anyway, the idiot didn’t register the names. So in 1865 Julius von Haast named Franz Josef after his emperor. Fox was named by von Haast after New Zealand prime minister, William Fox. A little bit of Britain that could have gone down forever in history and didn’t.

They both have Maori names and there is a nice legend about Franz Josef glacier.

The Maori name for the glacier is Te Moeka o Tuawe or the bed of Tuawe. He was a Maori warrior who fell to his death while climbing with his lover Hine Hukatere. The valley was his final resting place, and her tears of sorrow froze and became a glacier in everlasting memory of her love Tuawe.

Alongside the glaciers you get rainforest. Truly amazing scenery.

I’m not sure how tourist boards manage to take such wonderful photos of blue and white shining ice, but it looked pretty dirty and scruffy to me. Fascinating though. And I can say I have touched a glacier. Definitely strange and foreign.

Geometry to follow in a day or so …

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11 comments on “Weekly photo challenge: Foreign (5) – glaciers”

  1. There’s definitely blue in your header pic πŸ™‚

    I love the way you always make your photos so interesting with the story behind them.
    I also think the Maori names are best, especially with the tale of the lovers. πŸ™‚


    • I know, but it is mixed with dirty grey!

      Thanks V.

      I like a decent photo as much as anyone, but I need to know at a minimum, where it is, when it was taken, what the significance is, if any, some background blah blah.

      I post a pic of a glacier, so what? Who cares?

      For me, though, it was so strange to meet someone I’d known five years previously on the other side of the world. And of course the name thing reminded me of the gorgeous namesake. Plus I can never remember which glacier is which πŸ˜€ It’s just a jumble of thoughts and memories really I suppose. Perhaps I should just have captioned it ‘Fox’s glacier mints’ ? πŸ˜‰

      Maori culture and history is fascinating, and we met some great Maoris when we were in Sydney.


  2. Oh I love Fox’s Mints! LOL. Not sure if I had the Glacier Mint variety because you can’t get them here. But if there flights in transit via Heathrow it is nice to get some.
    Glaciers are only pristine after a fresh snowfall, or if a chunk of them breaks off, exposing a fresh face. I am reminded of a harrowing ride up a narrow winding road to see the Salmon Glacier (there was only one there so no problem with mixing up any names) in Hyder, Alaska. The weather was most uncooperative and even though we had almost risked life and limb to get there, we did not see much except mist and the odd glimpse of something that looked easily as gritty and worn as this. We could not see the blue colour which you show here.
    What a great storythanks for sharing.


    • Oops. That should have said – if there are flights in transit….


      • Thanks for the additional glacier info. We did learn about them at school, formation, names of various parts and all that, but as there is a shortage of glaciers in the UK, I never put it to use. These NZ ones are still the only ones I have ever seen, and part of their attraction is there proximity and the ease with which you can just wander up to them.

        Can’t remember the last time I had the mints. Probably school.


  3. Oh, this is so cool πŸ˜‰ Bad jokes aside, they are great images and I just love the header image. I never got to go on the NZ school excursion, and am still disappointed, I could have had photos like these, and touched a glacier which is what I really wanted to do. Interesting outcome of the pros and cons list, but it’s a tricky exercise to quantify such things via a list…


    • Haha πŸ˜€ Always good to wake up from the Land of Nod, see what’s happened overnight and be met with a joke, corny or otherwise. Thanks, I’m wondering what happened to the pix I took first time around, maybe they are in an album. I thought it would be nice to end the ‘foreign’ series with something a little different – away from the exotic hot sort of images that Brits tend to consider foreign. What a good school trip, ours seemed to be down to the local rhubarb farm. Or York, which I’d been to loads anyway. Shame you didn’t go :(I wasn’t allowed to go on the ski-ing one at my school which annoyed the hell out of me. Especially as I managed to get my name on the list when it went up and that was an achievement in itself.

      The problem with pros and cons list is whether or not you weight the attributes, therein introducing a huge element of potential bias. Sometimes I think it is really just an exercise in thinking through the implications of something.


  4. A nice header pic indeed. I did a couple of weeks birding in NZ and was similarly surprised at the juxtaposition of glaciers and rain forests. It is a sublime country and after living in HK the first thing I noticed was the clean air. It was pretty cold and stung the lungs but you could hoover it up by the bucket without coughing. I suspect we all confuse glaciers and icebergs (the blocks of ice not the lettuce) and on reflection there is no real reason why glaciers should be a nice pristine blue colour. They are not smurfs. But I lost count of the time I referred to icebergs as glaciers on our trip probably to the dismay of the odd geologist on board.


    • Thanks A. The header pic is due to the way the Duotone theme works. I did like the capture of the frozen moving ice (if that makes any sense).

      I liked NZ. First and second time I visited. Loved the people too. Got me some nice Maori friends at one point who were lovely πŸ™‚

      One of the few geography lessons I have carried through the years was the one about glacier formation, so I figure that icebergs aren’t going to appear in NZ rainforest πŸ˜€


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