In which I belly-flop out of an ancient hunk of ice. (Fox Glacier, New Zealand)

I’m from the Northeastern US. It’s cold there. We get snow and hail and blizzards and mornings where you wake up to find your car encased in ice. People from cold climates, you know what I’m talking about.

Ok, so this is an exaggeration. But you catch my drift.

Ok, so this is an exaggeration. But you catch my drift.

Therefore, when my friends wanted to see a glacier in New Zealand, I wasn’t sure what the hullabaloo was about. Isn’t a glacier just a big hunk of ice?

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I guess I had to see what the big deal was.

So my friends and I booked a tour of Fox Glacier, located on the west coast of New Zealand’s southern island. The glacier is actually inaccessible to casual passerby– it’s too dangerous for untrained folk to venture there alone. Instead, professional guides provide the necessary equipment to tourists and make the trip together.

As we hiked to the glacier, our tour guide liked to remind us of how much danger we’d be in without him.

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What’s with all the landslides? New Zealand is located on the Pacific Rim of Fire, a geographically active fault line. In fact, the mountains of New Zealand are constantly growing, at a rate of (I think) about half a centimeter per year. However, New Zealand’s geology is full of sheared, layered rock. Rainfall is heavy, snowmelt is rapid, and earthquakes are common. As a result, NZ is full of beautiful cliffs and mountains…

This is what we hiked through!

This is what we hiked through!

…that are subject to constant collapse.

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Fear not! After a short hike, we safely reached the glacier with no casualties.

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In order to safely traverse the glacier, our tour guide had us strap crampons to our boots. Ice is slippery, after all!

Like these!

Kind of like these!

In fact, the tour company staff created a path for us to walk on.

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So, we could safely walk on the glacier.

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One of the people in my group was from Egypt! He’s never seen snow before.

It was mind-blowing. We were walking on 100-year-old ice! I seized the opportunity.

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Yeah I brought cups! It was the cleanest, freshest, most refreshing water I’ve ever tasted.

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The highlight of the walk was when the tour guide found a small tunnel that had naturally formed in the ice.

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Photos?! Heck yeah! I handed off my camera to one of my friends and wriggled into the tiny opening…

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…only to find out that the tunnel was filled with freezing rainwater. I pushed myself on my stomach, trying to avoid the frigid puddles as much as possible.

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At the end of the tunnel was a small opening in the top where we could climb out. Problem is, the opening was quite high and I am quite short. I had some trouble getting out…

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But hey, at least I got the picture I wanted.

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So now, I have photographic proof: even the coldest, wettest, and slipperiest journey can be a good time! Fox Glacier sure was. Even if we came back soaking wet.

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I might have been freezing for the rest of the day, sure. But it was still worth it.

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And I’m sure my friends agree!