Climbing the Frans Josef Glacier

As part of the trip up the stunning west coast of New Zealand, one of the must-do activities is to see one of the fastest moving accessible glaciers in the world, and, even better, to climb through it


5 tips:

  1. Climbing – climbing through the glacier with the crampons on and the ice axe at the ready was what made this such a great experience, so be sure to give yourself the day to include this.  The only issue is the price.  A few years ago you were able to simply rock up to the glacier and climb through it, whereas unfortunately now you often need to take a helicopter further up the glacier and explore from there.  On the plus side, you’ll get some amazing views of the glacier from the helicopter
  2. Climbing can get a bit hairy! – when climbing, be prepared for it to be a little scary at times.  We thought it would just be a walk but, depending on your guide, you may be climbing up sheer slopes and starring down into the ice abyss below – you’ve been warned!
  3. Fans Joseph or Fox? – both are similar, but their nearby towns make it a choice between bigger with wider facilities but a bit busier (Frans Jospeh) and smaller with few facilities but quieter (Fox).  When I visited, I went for Frans Jospeh and it was a great experience.  It also has Glacier Hot Pools which would be great to enjoy after the climbing
  4. Hiking – if you don’t want to climb, one activity that you simple must do is a hike to get a feel for the scale of the glaciers.  The Glacier Valley walk for Frans Jospeh is fantastic as its gives you a nice walk past the small lakes and view out across the glacier.  6km / 3.7miles return and will take around 1.5hours
  5. Two things we wish we’d done – we left thinking that we would have loved to have taken a scenic flight to see the glaciers from the sky (you can cover this now with the helicopter trip) and also kayaked in the more tranquil nearby Lake Mapourika, with the “Classic Trip” taking 3 hours in the early morning

Skiing in Queenstown

Queenstown offers the best skiing options and best adrenaline capital for anywhere within a 10,000km radius, so it is certainly the best choice to get your fix of either without traveling 20 hours on a plane.  It’s beautiful scenery of the nearby valleys and Lake Wakatipu, plus the wonderful Kiwi way of making sure everything works without a hitch ,makes its a great option when in this part of the world


That being said, its a very different experience to the larger snow fields you may be used to in Europe or North America, mainly because of the smaller sizes of the two skiing options Coronet Peak (4 ski lifts total) and The Remarkables (also 4 ski lifts total), and with no interlink between the resorts.   When you compare this to some of the giant interconnected ski spots of the world, it can make Queenstown feel a little underwhelming.  So, to counter this, don’t see Queenstown as one of those week-or-more ski holidays.  Instead, I’d suggest aim to spend a day at each site and combine your trip with getting involved in the various other activities that Queenstown and this part of New Zealand has to offer – in particular,Paragliding through the mountains and clouds in Queenstown, Bungy jumping the Thrillogy in Queenstown and the nearby experiences of Taking a boat trip through Milford Sound and Climbing the Frans Josef Glacier

10 days campervanning around the South Island of New Zealand

New Zealand’s South Island has some of the most rugged natural beauty of anywhere in the world with world famous sites such as the fjords of Milford Sound, the Frans Joseph and Fox glaciers, and the adrenaline sports of Queenstown, yet is also super accessible by road and very compact to get around.  The combination of these factors makes it one of the most appealing places for a roadtrip and I’ve listed below a great 10 day itinerary to get the best of the island

Bungy jumping the Thrillogy in Queenstown

If you’re going to bungy jump, you may as well do it in style at the home of commercial bungy jumping and with some of the most sensational views you could imagine.  Queenstown offers the first ever commercial bungy jump site at Kawarau Bridge with its 43m / 151ft fall towards the icy waters of the Kawarau River below; the bungy swing which may only be 47m / 154ft but swings far above Queenstown so it feels like you’re throwing yourself off 500m; and finally the big one – the Nevis at 134m / 440ft with 8 seconds of free fall and the former title holder of tallest bungy jump in the world.  Package them all together and you have The Thrillogy – wonderfully terrifying . . . not for the faint hearted . . . and an unmissable experience


AJ Hackett Company is the group you need to go for

Dunedin and the wildlife of the Otago Peninsular

I read in a few travel guides that the town of Dunedin is the highlight of Otago and this part of the South Island, but I think that is way off point.  The highlights of the South Island are by the far the areas of outstanding natural beauty and, even very close to Dunedin, is an area that should take priority – the Otago Peninsular with its beautiful coastline and wildlife of sea lions, penguins, southern fur seals and albatross to get up close with


Don’t get me wrong, Dunedin is a nice town with its student vibe, street art and the unusual crown as having the world’s steepest street, so definitely worth the stop over when traveling around the South Island.  Just make sure you also visit the Otago Peninsular

Rotorua’s geothermal landscape and Maori Villages

Just outside of Rotorua, you’ll be able to smell the various thermal spots long before you see them!  But don’t let that put you off as the thermal pools with their gushing geysers are beautiful and there is a great chance to see and learn a bit about Maori culture in the Maori villages nearby.  Overall, a must visit for this part of New Zealand


3 high levels tips for your visit:

  1. The place you want to visit is the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve.  The Reserve is broken up into 2 main parts: firstly, Te Puia which has walkways and around the bubbling mud, minerals pools and the booming geysers like the 15m /50ft high Pohutu.  Secondly, you have the Thermal Village, which gives you a chance to see how the Maori traditionally interact with the unique environment.  It can attract a lot of fellow tourists, but its big enough not to feel overly crowded
  2. Hot n’ Cold – the most enjoyable experience we found was with some of the natural pools that aren’t part of some of the reserves.  There are a few dotted around that have the combination of the hot water meeting the cold water of the nearby streams and give that wonderful feeling of moving somewhere in the middle to find that perfect temperature.  The one we enjoyed the most was called the Hot n’ Cold near Waiotapu which is free to use and can see more details in this good summary website – Rotorua Travel Secrets website
  3. Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland – visit here for the most colourful thermal pools

Zorbing by Rotorua

The Kiwis love their adrenaline rides and this is one of their more unique ones.  Throw yourself into a huge hollow plastic ball and chuck yourself down the hill either with water inside or dry, with friends or not.  Good fun and some great views of Kaikaitahuna Bay from the top