NZ Day 16 – Glacier reflection and a scary downhill ride

First thing to do this morning is to buy FOOD! Pack up as quickly as possible and run to the shop, buy some biscuits and muesli bars. My energy is back again!

2 years ago when I had a hitchhiking trip in Tibet, I missed a chance to see the glacier there. This time I can’t miss it again. Here I come, Fox Glacier! It is a short ride from the town to the glacier assess, and you can walk up to a lookout to have a full view of the magnificent Glacier. You can also join a guided tour in town, which provide all the climbing gears that you can hire, and you are able to walk on the glacier.

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There were records saying the Fox Glacier appeared in the 18th century, maybe a lot earlier than that. Due to global warming in the past decades, environmentalists warn us the glaciers retreat several meters every year, and they could disappear in the coming 20-30 years. Everyday thousands of tourists visit the glacier, but how many of them really take a moment to think what are human beings doing to damage these natural sceneries? Cars and factories are to be blamed, we can hear a lot of advertisements proclaiming that we have to protect our environment, but how many people are really taking actions to cope with that? Do people really CARE?

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There are small things we can start doing:
1. RECYCLING, separate organic wastes (to be used as compose in garden), plastics, papers, metals; REUSE as much as you can!

2. CYCLING rather than using cars within cities or towns

3. Switch to RENEWABLE ENERGY, like installing SOLAR panel

If 50% of the world’s populations follow these little rules, I am sure our Motherly Earth would be happier!

From Fox Glacier to Franz Josef Glacier it is only 23km, but there are 3 big hills to be crossed, which means up down up down up down. Since yesterday I realized something wrong in my rear break, they are too tight and always rubbing the tire to make terrible sounds. Using my little knowledge about bikes, I loosen the break a bit so that it doesn’t decelerate the wheel too much. That is a BIG MISTAKE again! After going up the first hill, I am glad to start going down…but once it slide downhill, I CANNOT STOP!! OMG, that is so SCARY, I press both breaks all the way but they are both loosened. >.< There is no way to stop the bike, at one moment I feel like I am going to be thrown out, so I KEEP PRAYING: LORD, PLEASE HELP ME, DON’T LET ME FALL!! I am using both lanes as the speed is too high and I need to make big turns on those winding roads. Luckily there are no other cars coming up in the opposite side at that minute, otherwise I would be hit and get injured seriously. That minute is really terrifying…finally I reach a flat ground and stop. THANKS GOD I AM SAFE!

Then for the second downhill slope, I walk my bike down so that I don’t have to experience that scary ride again. Some other cyclists pass by and ask if there is something wrong. They check my breaks and help me to fix it temporarily. They are like angels who appear to give me a hand, I am really grateful for that. Thanks them so that I can make my way pedaling to Franz Josef, see the glacier and reach the town. This glacier you can’t go as close as Fox Glacier, and it is facing the problem of retreating too! If you have to choose going only one of them, I recommend Fox Glacier!

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It is around 5pm when I reach Franz Josef Glacier Township, I decide to try my luck to see if I can hitchhike to Hokitika or not. Having the problem of the breaks, I don’t want to risk carrying on, I need to find an expert to fix it. After an hour putting my thumb up, a French traveler Armand stops and give me a lift to Hokitika, Merci beaucoup!! He is also using helpx.net to travel around New Zealand, so we exchange stories of our journeys! Hope that I will visit him in France later this year.

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After arriving Hokitika, immediately I ride to find my warmshowers host (warmshowers.org is a network to host outdoor travelers) Kevin. He is such a caring host who knows exactly what I need…shower, laundry, warm food! Thanks God, after a week having no shower, no warm food, camping with sandflies biting my feet, finally I can stay in a house and sleep in a bed! Kevin told me a lot of wonderful trips he had done in the past, as well as other crazy cyclists pedaling around the world. It really opens my eyes to do more close-to-insane trips in the future. This NZ trip is only a START of my CYCLING JOURNEY.

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Fox Glacier to Franz Josef Glacier 43km (including the trips to and return from glaciers)

FJ Glacier to Hokitika 113km (got a lift)

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