The Quiet Traveller: Day 15 – Franz Josef

Setting off from Westport, we continued along the coast in the direction of the Franz Josef Glacier. I was not booked on to do anything at the glacier, so I decided I had to make the most out of the stops on the way.

The main point of interest on route was Hari Hari, where in 1931 an aviator named Guy Menzies landed the first solo flight across the Tasman Sea. The Tasman is the lengthy wet area between Australia and New Zealand, although the flight is not far by today’s modern aviation standards. But in 1931, such a trip took some industrial sized military-grade balls. Menzies landed not on what he thought was a field, but was actually a swamp. This unfortunate turn of events, and the fact that Shrek had negated to install any kind of runaway that could accommodate an Avro Avian, meant Guy’s plane ended up with its wheels pointing at the sky.

Luckily Guy survived, and there is now a memorial garden dedicated to him at the site of the ‘landing’. This consists of a mosaic with a lot of inspirational messages from people around the world, and a sundial. I looked at the sundial and appreciated the ultimate analogue form of telling the time; a stick and the sun. Upon closer inspection, the dial had an inscription, which read ‘Be true to others as the dial is to the sun’. I boarded my mental submarine, locked the hatches, and hit the dive lever.

Whilst deep, I reached out to touch the sundial itself. Pulling my hand back, the middle part came back with it a little way. I reached back again and shook it. The bolts connecting the dial to the base were loose, and I could freely shake it around. I no longer appreciated the dial, but instead the irony of the situation. The dial was as true to the sun as a promise not to invade Poland.

Arriving at Franz Josef, I soon realised that the town itself only existed to serve the purpose of a base for those hiking or helicoptering up onto the glacier itself. There’s not a lot going on if you’re not going up, and much like Picton, it is merely a transit hub.

I also soon realised that this meant there was not much to do except go to the pub. We were greeted at our accommodation an owner who seemed to think he was some kind of beverage based demi-god, who gave out free drinks to a few travellers upon arrival. He attempted to make his place sound like Ibiza, which to be fair to him, he did good job of. The place had a university halls kind of vibe, and after dinner at the onsite restaurant (very hallsy), people came together for drinks.

As an introvert, I do find socialising isn’t as draining¬†after a beer or two. Alcohol can be a verbal lubricant, a phrase which sounds disgusting but is oddly accurate. However,¬†it’s not recommended because you’re fundamentally altering your personality. And this book is about adapting and thriving with your personality, not changing it with substances.

Having said that, I was intrigued to try the local beverage of NZ, Tui. I bought myself one, and then a Swiss guy bought me one, so naturally I had to buy him one back, whilst getting myself one and so on. You get the idea.

Tomorrow would be for recharging, both of the social energy variety and beer variety.





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