The Franz Josef Glacier is no doubt, hands down, one of the most remarkable sights I have ever seen.
Part of the Te Wahipounamu National Park, a World Heritage site, the Franz Josef Glacier is 12 kilometres long of pure solid ice. What you see before you is a flowing frozen river of ice. As the stunning blinding white of the ice sears your pupils, the crevices of deep blue bewitch you. A hike up the glacier is incredible and a once in a lifetime experience. Trekking up and down crevices that could swallow a whale hole, and over walls of ice that are as high as the eye can see, you step up home-made steps of ice that your guide cuts out for you there and then. Each step you must take with caution, as you descend into the never ending maze of ice. As you become a dot in this swirling mass of ice, you thank the lord that your guide knows how to direct himself out of this beautiful but dangerous piece of nature.
Lake Wanaka is the fourth largest lake in New Zealand and is a beautiful lake to lose track of time at. It is an ideal place to fish, water-ski, snowboard, ski and even skydive over this huge mirror like lake. Although nail bitingly cold, swimming isn’t recommended. The town is an average size, built around the daily routine of town life and the city escaping romantics that come here, hoping to relax around the lake side. It is the perfect location to succumb to the slow pace of town life and see on a daily basis, with such an appealing natural landscape.
Queenstown is my favourite place in New Zealand and I really can’t recommend it more. Queensland sits next to South Island’s Lake Wakatipu, straddled around the edges of this deep and elongated lake, where the Southern Alps reflect off the mirrored surface and linger in the background, reminding everyone that New Zealand has it all. And Queenstown, it seems, has it all.
If an avid lover of extreme sports- which I am, it is ideal. With skiing in winter, and bungee jumping and para gliding in summer, as well as canyoning and white water rafting, it really is a thrill seekers paradise. And if adventure isn’t for you, then Queenstown has an incredible diversity of nature and wildlife that is astonishing. In close proximity to Milford Sound, one of the most iconic nature spots of all time, it means that Queenstown has incredible mountains, alps, rolling hills and dense forestry that one would think they were in the heart of bear territory in Canada. It is easy to see why so many backpackers lose track of time here, and so many non-Kiwi’s move here, who wouldn’t? The town is a perfect size, big enough to stroll around, but small enough to know where where everything is. It is filled with cool hip bars such as World Bar and the world famous Fergburger.
Fergburger is the best burger I have ever had in the world, hands down.It combines a variety of different types of meat perfected in the right size and flavour of patty with an excellent choice of cheese, melted to perfection, a dripping and juicy sauce and tasty balance of vegetable. I have no idea how they create this succulent, juicy wet dream of a burger, but they do, and boy, do I miss it. Even one burger is called “The Jawbreaker” which undoubtedly does what it says on the tin.
The main attraction behind Queenstown is Bungee Jumping and on Christmas Eve, I signed up for one. Not any old one, but the third highest in the world. The Nevis. Travelling to the tiny glass box in the middle of the valley was terrifying enough but after my friend had jumped and the entire time I egged her on, I knew it would be my turn. I was fine at first, quite excited. Until, I made the stupid mistake of looking down, which was when I slowly moved forward with just a rope attached to my ankles, I suddenly realised that I was high, very fucking high, and had a very strong feeling I was going to die. Fear began to paralyse my legs and I really didn’t want to jump. Luckily I voiced my frustration, unlike some people who seem to turn into a quivering, silent mouse. And the guy who was there with me began to support me, telling me to go for it, which led me to just let my worries disappear and jump into the unknown. And that’s what it felt like when I finally got the guts to jump. That you are going to die. I had skydived before, but that was nothing compared to this. It was a great experience but I’ve done it, and I think that is enough for me.
I left my friends behind and took a trip to Milford Sound in Te Anau as I heard it was a beautiful place. And I was not let down as we took a boat along the river taking in the breathtaking view of the fiord and fantastic scenery of the cliffs that rise dramatically on either side of you with cascading waterfalls running down each jagged side. The lake centers the fiord, with its incredible shimmering surface that multiples the view in its reflection. The sight is spectacular, and as you float deeper and deeper into the ‘eighth natural wonder of the world’, says Rudyard Kipling, you are rewarded with each corner and curve you take. We were taken to an underwater aquarium which unfortunately was closed due to weather conditions. The tour guide said jokingly, “well does anyone want to swim in the Milford Sound with me?” And me being sleep deprived and probably still drunk as I came straight from a night out to the trip I said, “I Will.” Next thing you know he is undressing, which means I have to as well.
After that freezing experience, I learnt to keep my mouth shut.
I stayed the night at Te Anau and went on a 7k hike to Broad Bay as the Milford Track is a rewarding place to hike and experience nature first hand. It was lovely to see the changing scenery and I was happy to escape Queenstown and it’s bars for the true beauty of New Zealand.