Friday, 16 November 2007

In Treebeard's Domain

TOMORROW I shall be hiking up Franz Josef glacier, so I must go and prepare, but I feel in the meanwhile I should fill you in on a few of the activities I have been up to upon arrival in the land of the long white cloud.

We flew in to Christchurch where we were involved (involuntarily) in a street performance, of which the finale involved the entertainer standing upon my shoulders juggling knives; we visited the International Antarctic Centre, where there were blue penguins, Haggl├╝nd rides and a walk-in antarctic storm in which we were taken to minus eighteen degrees centigrade, which is, needless to say, a bit nippy.

Onwards to Kaikoura where we boarded Wheketere, an eighteen metre catamaran, and sailed seven miles out to sea to see sperm whales and dusky dolphins; to the vineyards of Blenheim to taste some wines; to Nelson where I climbed to the centre of New Zealand; and Westport, where we were filmed for a kiwi television show (in a brewery at 9.30am). Along the way I went powerjet boating, but foolishly did not take a change of clothes. This morning I fed a possum (which refreshingly did not bite me), before arriving in Franz Josef itself. I have just returned from kayaking on a mountain lake which leads into rainforest streams - so still and pure they reflect the sky - looking through gaps in the clouds at a snowcapped mountain as the sun set.

Which, I am sure you will agree, is a busy six days. One to give Australia a run for it's money in fact.

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