Posted on: October 8th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
Ready to step back in time into the Ice Age?
On New Zealand’s West Coast, rainforest-clad valleys dip into spectacular glaciers. Its most famous glaciers, Franz Josef and Fox Glacier, draw travelers from around the world to hike and explore their stunning ice formations.
From blue ice caves to rippled ice currents, stepping onto these glaciers is like stepping into a completely different world.
Franz Josef and Fox glacier both provide an array of activities for all levels. From glacier valley walks to glacier hikes and scenic helicopter rides, seeing these natural wonders is easily done on your terms.
Fox Glacier is a 13 kilometer long (8.1 mi) glacier, the longest of New Zealand’s West Coast glaciers, located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park. With gorgeous ice caves and dappled arches, Fox Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers in the world. During the high tourist season it sees about 1000 people daily. The glacier was named after one of New Zealand’s Prime Ministers, Sir William Fox. Its official name is Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe, incorporating its original Maori name.
Still flowing almost to sea level, the front of the glacier, known as the terminal face, rises at a slow incline, making valley walks and ice hikes fairly easy. However, shelving in the valley deep beneath the glacier causes the ice to crack and slide, constantly changing the face of the glacier along with surface melting. Guided tours are a must to get on the ice due to these unstable conditions.
Yet these changeable conditions can present breathtaking surprises along the way.
The Fox Glacier township, “Weheka,” lies 4 miles from the glacier with a population between 300 – 400 residents. With delightful cafes, restaurants and glow worm caves just a short walk from the town center, this cozy township will warm you up with its genuine Kiwi hospitality.
Meet the Glacier on a Terminal Face Walk
Visitors can walk close to the face of Fox Glacier, but a guided tour is where the real adventure lies.
Venture through the pristine Fox Valley toward the face of the glacier on a terminal face walk. This moderate trail is the perfect way to get closer to the glacier than any unguided walkers without leaving your footprints on the ice.
Walk along the flowing Fox River, emerging from the ice, as your expert guide brings the dynamic terrain to life with their informative commentary. Come across fantastic ice boulders and if you’re lucky, you might witness extraordinary ice collapses.
Explore the Glacier on a Heli Hike
Combine the thrills of soaring high above the ice and walking the spectacular glacier formations on a Heli Hike on Fox Glacier.
Flying in by helicopter allows you access to remote parts of the glacier where its dynamic forces work hardest and create stunning ice caves and arches. Once you land your guide will fit you with crampons, spiked footwear used for secure mobility on the ice.
One of the biggest differences between Fox Glacier and Franz Josef is in how they are guided. Fox Glacier, with its extremely varying conditions, offers more spontaneous hikes set by your guide as you make your way. A tour on one day may be completely different than a tour the next day.
As you step through narrow ice caverns, a blue glow emanating from the icy depths, you’ll feel like you’re on an expedition in the Arctic. The photo ops will be out of this world.
Franz Josef Glacier
The more popular of the two glaciers, Franz Josef draws around 250,000 visitors each year. It is named after Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria by German explorer Julius von Haast in 1865. Maori call the glacier Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere, meaning “The tears of Hine Hukatere.”
With a length of 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) and a steeper drop from the Southern Alps, Franz Josef constantly shifts, create rippled ice formations and icy crevasses. Guided walks and hikes on the glacier are usually on pre-cut and predetermined paths, more suitable for beginners. This also affords more opportunities to see extraordinary ice formations.
Located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park only 12 miles away from Fox Glacier, you can easily see the face of both glaciers on a quick road trip.
But you’re in New Zealand’s West Coast, where the scenery is as varied as the continuously changing glaciers. Become one with the landscape and explore these incredible rivers of ice.
Challenge Yourself on a Heli Ice Climb
Get your heart racing with an exciting Heli Ice Climb on Franz Josef. Offering some of the best glacier climbing in the world, this experience rewards you with unique views and an unbeatable sense of accomplishment.
You’ll begin with a scenic helicopter flight, surrounded in the full panoramic majesty of the glacier and nearby mountains. Once on the ice your guide will lead you to your climbing starting point, where your adventure begins.
With all technical equipment and climbing gear provided, the Heli Ice Climb serves all skill levels with expert guides instructing you along the way. The high you’ll feel as you reach the top of the blue ice will be just as thrilling as the jaw-dropping scenery around you.
Take it Slow on a Franz Josef Glacier Walk
For those seeking the beauty of the glacier at a slower speed, try the two hour Guided Glacier Walk. You’ll take a flight up to the top of the glacier and get to see the beauty of the surrounding mountains as the guide lets you explore the awe-inspiring formations.
This adventure gets you up close to the blue ice tunnels, between towering walls of ice and in the ice caves carved out of the glacier. Your guide will reveal extraordinary knowledge of the glacier along the way, leaving you with a deeper understanding of why this special landmark is so special.
One of the highlights of a Franz Josef excursion is complimentary access to the Franz Josef Hot Pools. What better way to soothe your tired muscles after an incredible hike out on the ice? The township of Franz Josef also boasts an array of accommodation and places to grab a bite to eat, setting up the perfect stay for your Franz Josef adventure.
Explore New Zealand’s Iconic Glaciers
Whether you want to take a heli flight to the top of the glacier and walk around, or just want to see where the glacier runs into the waters below, there are glacier experiences fit for every person’s adventure level. Don’t miss out on this gorgeous sight you can only see in New Zealand.
If you are ready to start planning your glacier exploration, call us Toll Free 888-359-2877 (Mon-Fri 8:30am – 5:00pm Central US).
Posted on: August 4th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
New Zealand is full. Booked. No vacancy.
“But I reallllyyy want to see those beautiful landscapes! The fiords! The glaciers!”
Too late. Nothing else to see here, move along, pick a new country to visit, later gator.
In 2017, New Zealand officially has more people wanting to visit than there is space available to house them.
It’s a huge problem.
Of course, it’s not surprising. New Zealand’s postcard-ready landscape, mild climate and rugged coastline seem tailor made for the wanderlust of travelers of all ages.
But as native Aussies, in proper brotherly fashion we prefer to blame a Kiwi – namely Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies.
Since the release of the Lord of the Rings films, New Zealand has absolutely exploded as a tourist destination.
Hardcore fans of the film look to retrace Frodo’s steps to Mt. Doom or have a pint at the Green Dragon Inn, while non-movie buffs can’t help but appreciate the photogenic, sweeping vistas of the countryside.
Photo: Hobbiton Tours
There really is something that could tickle anyone’s fancy – and that’s exactly why tourism in New Zealand is shattering records all over the place.
Developers have been scrambling the past few years, trying their best to put up more hotels and rooms for eager visitors. But it seems like they just can’t put them up fast enough.
Room for accommodation is so tight that just recently a group of 53 traveling senior-citizens had a delayed flight and ended up stranded for the night – not a single hotel room left to spare.
Luckily, they were treated to some Maori hospitality and put up for the night in a traditional Maori meeting house. Sleeping bags on the floor and all – just like at camp.
And that’s just the hotels!
Photo: Auckland, New Zealand
New Zealand’s overall infrastructure is being stressed so much that estimates put a $1.5 billion-dollar price tag on improvements to set the tourism industry up for the future.
Think about the rental cars needed to go on those epic self-drive adventures New Zealand is so well known for. The tickets and space needed to participate in the extreme sport staples people know and love like bungy jumping and skydiving.
All these pieces work in unison to create an amazing New Zealand experience and if you don’t plan ahead, you could find yourself stuck.
We’ve been in the travel game for nearly 20 years and we’ve never seen anything like it. But we have picked up some tips along the way to make your trip seamless.
The earlier you book, the better your chances at getting your preferred trip, it’s as easy as that. Some seasons are busier than others, but the fact remains that the quicker you get your trip booked, the easier it will be.
But don’t expect to simply book a hotel room and be on your merry way.
How will you get to the hotel from the airport?
Taxi queues can be long and that meter keeps running no matter how much traffic you’re stuck in.
Uber, Lyft and other car-sharing services are available in New Zealand, but increasingly subject to increase rates during peak times known as surge-pricing. With the number of tourists and locals clamoring for a ride, you could be paying even more than a taxi.
That’s why car-transfer shuttles with their flat rate are the way to go. They’ll be ready and waiting for you at the airport. The last thing you want to do is figure out getting your cell phone to work in a new country immediately after your 13 hour flight! Better book this early while you’re at it.
December, January, February – By far the busiest season. Warm weather and school children are on vacation.
March, April, May – Milder temperatures and the summer rush is dwindling. Fall is a GREAT time to experience the great New Zealand outdoors.
June, July, August – You’ll want to bring a coat, but there’s still plenty to do in the colder months like skiing, glacier hiking and more. The North Island tends to stay a bit warmer than the South Island, but if you really want to embrace the wintery chill, head to the mountains for snowy peaks and fun, outdoor winter activities.
Photo: Julian Apse
You’ve always wanted to snowboard in July, haven’t you?
September, October, November – Beautiful weather. The perfect time to hike one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, like the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Pleasant weather all the way through.
Make your car your home by freedom camping in a pop-up camper vehicle or RV. Freedom camping in New Zealand is just as it sounds: the freedom to drive yourself around to your hearts content, pull in to a designated area and stay the night.
No hotel check ins, no shuttle transfers. Just you, the open road and a sense of adventure.
Freedom camping can get you places you otherwise might miss, but despite the name, there are still a few guidelines you need to follow.
Until the past couple of decades, New Zealand was a free-wheeling, camping free-for-all and you could pull over wherever you wanted and stay the night in your camper van or truck.
But as word got out on this come-as-you-please, bohemian travel style, property owners began to crack down and “No Camping” signs began to go up.
Nowadays, a map of designated DOC (Dept. of Conservation)-friendly sites will do you good for finding spots to call home for the night.
The good news? DOC sites are plentiful and can get you beyond the average tourist bubble of accommodations. Find yourself in a remote wilderness one day and chatting up the locals at a pub the next.
Oh, and did we mention they’re free?
Have an Expert Plan Your Vacation to New Zealand For You
We don’t mean to toot our own horn, but after 20 years we think we’ve got this travel thing figured out. We can put you up in a preferred travel accommodation, book you a ride from the airport and get you to and from tours without hassle.
Sometimes the slightest snag can throw off a perfectly good vacation. Can’t find a ride to the airport in Auckland? You could miss your flight to Queenstown.
Trying to bungy jump or simply tour Hobbiton but tickets are sold out? If you didn’t book ahead, you’re out of luck.
We specialize in putting the parts together and setting them in motion. All you need to do is enjoy the ride.
Let us build a free quote for you and we’ll make sure you have a place to lay your head at night.
Posted on: July 19th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
When it comes to New Zealand wildlife, you might be thinking sheep, sheep and more sheep. And you wouldn’t be wrong, either! Until recently, New Zealand’s sheep-to-human ratio sat at about 22 sheep for every man, woman and child in the country.
That’s a lot of sweaters!
But that’s not all that the island nation has to offer. A diverse collection of unique animals make this coastal county their home. In fact, there wasn’t a single mammal to be found for millions of years before humans arrived. Instead, a plethora of wild bird species, reptiles and marine life thrived in the region.
This includes a lizard whose DNA goes back 200 million years, unchanged since the days it walked the land with dinosaurs.
What you won’t find though, are snakes. That’s right, not a single snake slithers around New Zealand. Great news for all the ophidiophobics out there (that means fear of snakes!).
We’ve rounded up a few of the most unique creatures you’ll find, so that your next trip will have you doing more than just counting sheep.
A storied history riddles this legendary bird’s past. Sailors once thought that seeing an albatross in the sky meant good luck. The giant bird was said to have carried the souls of dead sailors to protect the ship from danger. However, if one were to kill an albatross, certain doom would come to all aboard.
These days the albatross isn’t as rife with superstition, but the real facts behind the bird are just as interesting. They are among the largest seabirds on the planet. At their largest, their wings can span more 12 feet across – almost 6 times the average seagull!
The albatross is kind of like the drone of the bird-world. They use nearly autonomous, micro-wing movements to stay aloft using little to no effort. For the albatross, this makes flying a breeze.
They can even sleep while flying and have been known to stay out to sea for years, only returning to land to mate and feed their young. Scientists tracked an albatross recently circling the entire globe – more than 10,000 miles – in just 46 days.
Tip: Before you see an albatross in person, keep tabs on the newest addition to the Taiaroa Head albatross colony via live web-stream! This albatross chick hatched in late January and will remain until it’s old enough to fly away in September. The chick’s parents return from sea daily to feed their young. An amazing look at New Zealand wildlife up-close.
What has three eyes, zero ears and has called New Zealand home for more than 200 million years?
The tuatara, New Zealand’s “living dinosaur”, still carries the same DNA since it walked side-by-side actual with the famed mega-reptiles. A third-eye on top of it’s head (physical, not metaphorical) is thought to help produce vitamin D and regulate night and day cycles, but even scientists still don’t know what it’s really used for.
At the very least, it makes up for having no ears!
As mammals like wildcats and rodents were introduced to the mainland, tuataras became quick and easy prey and populations were decimated. These days they thrive solely on the islands off the New Zealand coast – like Jurassic Park, right in New Zealand.
However, being banished to an island turned out to be a good thing. Without any natural predators, the tuatara can live to be more than 100 years old. The benefits of island life.
If you thought you had to travel to the tropics to see parrots, think again. This New Zealand exclusive is the world’s only alpine parrot and is found only in select parts of the South Island. Like most parrots, the Kea is an intelligent bird. Researchers estimate that the Kea is as smart as a 4-year old – without ever having stepped foot in pre-school.
The Kea is notorious for it’s brash personality. They’ve developed almost non-existent boundaries and humans, a blessing and a curse that makes getting an up-close picture of the Kea possible, but also less savory encounters. Because of the bird’s hyper-curious nature and general trust around people, they have been known to peck and damage cars and rifle through bags and clothing. One Kea even made off with a tourist’s unguarded wallet in Fiordland National Park.
It’s no wonder they call these pick-pocketing parrots the “clowns of the mountain”.
You’ll want to see this beautiful bird in person and the best place to do it is in Fiordland. Take a nature cruise of Milford Sound for beautiful landscapes and wildlife spotting. Kea have been known to hang out in the parking lot of Milford Sound so be sure to keep an eye on your wallet!
Photo: Corin Walker Bain
No other animal can stake the claim of attracting more than 400,000 visitors to New Zealand every year. In fact, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves are the most popular cave in all of Australasia, which includes New Zealand, Australia, New Guinea and other islands.
How do they do it?
Tourists flock to the Waitomo Caves to see the hypnotic, blueish glow that lights up the subterranean site. Millions of glowworms cover the cavernous interior and light up like blue fireflies during their feeding stage. The best part about seeing the glowworms is the silent, “black-water” river raft ride that you take to see them. You’ll float along the water beneath the canyon in total darkness, with only the star-like light of glowworms above.
Tip: Waitomo Glowworm Caves make a great back-to-back trip with Rotorua’s amazing geothermal features. Take a tour of both for a day tour you’ll never forget.
These quirky marine-mammals are best known for their aerial-acrobatics. While all dolphins exhibit breaching behavior in order to breathe from their blowholes, dusky dolphins seem to perform out-of-water stunts like aerial jumps, spins, tail-over-head dives, barrel rolls and more – seemingly for no other reason than their own enjoyment!
Dusky dolphins are found off the the south African coast, South America and many oceanic islands, but the largest concentrations are found all over New Zealand waters, including the Kaikoura Coast. Guided tours allow you to swim with these curious creatures in their natural environment.
Dusky dolphins are curious around humans and interaction with them is possible without the need for feeding, changing their environment or otherwise disrupting their natural habitat.
Tour-goers have reported dusky dolphins in pods numbering in the hundreds. The dolphins swim with and seem to mirror the behavior of humans (diving in as humans dive in) without being coaxed in to an encounter.
This tuxedoed New Zealand native is the rarest species of penguin in the entire world. The distinct, yellow banding around their eyes sets these quirky creatures apart from their Antarctic cousins to the south.
Yellow-eyed penguins, also known by their Maori name hoiho, are increasingly endangered. They generally breed on the South Island of New Zealand and habitats are found off the coast of Dunedin.
You didn’t think we’d get away without mentioning New Zealand’s most iconic animal, did you? This large, flightless bird is an icon that is inseparable from New Zealand. The word Kiwi is used as a term of endearment for native New Zealanders and even adorns the country’s $1 coin.
Not bad for a bird that can’t even fly.
The Kiwi’s arrival to the island nation remains sort of a mystery. Some say the bird descended from an ancestor capable of flight. Others say they arrived before New Zealand broke off from Australia millions of years ago. Essentially, just walking right over.
The Kiwi is a cherished part of New Zealand wildlife and culture, whichever way they arrived.
We’ll set you up with the perfect trip for wildlife watching in beautiful New Zealand. Whether you’re Albatross-spotting off the coast of Dunedin or staring in awe at glowworms, you’ll be sure not to miss anything on your trip.
We’ll even send you to Fiordland National Park, but make sure to watch your valuables around the Kea!
Does the thought of an international adventure entice you?
New Zealand is full of geographical diversity; the entire country is covered in mountains, glaciers, rainforests, lakes, farmland, and the most gorgeous coastline, which provides an enormous amount of variety for thrill-seekers. It is the adventure travelers paradise. If you’re wondering where to go in New Zealand, there are locations all over the country that yield extreme sports, adventures and fun. We have compiled a list of the top 26 adventure destinations and attractions that you must visit once in your lifetime. Travel-Tip: If you’re up for a road-trip, self drive tours are the best way to explore New Zealand at your own pace.
Queenstown, New Zealand | South Island
Queenstown, home of the New Zealand Winter Games, is the ‘adventure capital of the world’ and the ‘adrenaline capital of New Zealand- it’s no wonder it’s number one in adventure tourism! You’re sure to find an overwhelming amount of thrilling adventures guaranteed to supply the adrenaline rush all daredevils search for.
1. Kawarau White Water Rafting
A ” leisurely” grade 2-3 white water adventure rafting adventure suitable for persons of all rafting abilities – a great family experience. If you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings, the scenery may be familiar; raft down into Middle Earth.
2. Kawarau River Sledging
Get up close and personal with the roaring rapids of the Kawarau River while you soar through canyons, gorges and whirlpools for a world-class “wet & wild” river experience.
3. Kawarau Bridge Bungee Jump
Home to the world’s first commercial site and most famous of leaps; it is the world’s most beloved bungee site at a 141 foot leap, it is New Zealand’s only tandem bungee jump site. ProTip: Tandem refers to two or more people.
4. Shotover Canyon Swing
Launch yourself from a mounted platform 358 feet above the Shotover River, a thrilling 197 foot free fall, until you reach a gigantic 656 foot swing where you will act as a human pendulum until you rest. You can drip in a chair, upside down, backwards, and even tandem. It’s all about your comfort level!
5. Shotover Jet Country
The world’s most exciting Jet Boat ride that whips through Shotover canyon at 56 mph.
6. Nevis Highwire Bungee
The 14th highest bungee jump in the world, it is dubbed the “world’s wildest bungee jump.” After a rugged 35 minute 4×4 drive you’ll launch yourself into an 8.5 second freefall, a 440 foot drop over the Nevis Valley. Nervous? Can’t decide? Maybe this hilarious and informative client review will soothe your nerves.
7. Ski & Snow Board
Hit the slopes during New Zealand’s longest season and find adventure in every corner. There’s sNOw excuse – Queenstown is surrounded by lakes and gorgeous mountains which makes it extremely popular for extreme sports. Even the dogs in New Zealand are daredevils!
8. Dart River Safari
A stimulating wilderness jet trip excursion through the most incredible scenery across glacier-fed rivers while learning about fascinating New Zealand Maori legends and culture.
Experience an authentic skydive in the birthplace of tandem skydiving. This is not for the faint of heart – jump from 9,000-15,000 feet at nearly 125 mph for an insane 60 second free fall before you deploy your parachute and reach land again.
10. Moa Zipline
Ride up the Skyline Gondola and then glide through the treetops on a series of four flying foxes.
11. Tandem Paraflights
Strap into your harness and get ready for the flight of a lifetime at over 600 feet in the air, enjoy an exhilarating birds-eye-view of the incredible scenery .
12. Ledge Sky Swing
Enjoy a scenic gondola ride before you’re strapped in to swing 1,300 feet over Queenstown. This takes swinging to a whole new level!
13. Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride
If you’re an early riser, take a tour over the most awe-inspiring landscape in the world.
Auckland, New Zealand | North Island
Despite being New Zealand’s largest and most urban city in the country, it is the only city in the world built on an active underground volcano field, which yields thrilling adventures for you to embark on.
14. Sail the Auckland Harbor
Explore the colorful landscape and sandy beaches while sailing on an American Cup Racing Yacht through the most unique sea kayaking locations.
15. Piha Canyon Abseiling Adventure
Abseil down cascading waterfalls surrounded volcanic rock walls, swim through pools of blues and greens, bungee jump, cave explorations, and slides as you wander the canyon.
Tauranga, New Zealand | North Island
Located along the coast in the Bay of Plenty, it is the 6th most populated city in New Zealand, while a bit more leisurely than thrill-seeking, it still yields a fascinating adventure.
16. AquaTek Fishing & Diving
Inshore & offshore game fishing, scuba diving, and snorkeling – the perfect mix of thrill and adventure. Be ready to catch and see some of the ocean’s largest fish.
17. Swim With the Dolphins
Experience Tauranga’s natural aquatic life – above or below sea level, and swim with the dolphins. Alternatively, watch the dolphins, orcas, and whales safely in an aquatic vessel.
18. Surf Lessons
Whether you’re just learning, or a professional surfer, Tauranga has some of the best waters to surf with equally impressive backdrops. You’ll be catching waves in no time.
Rotorua, New Zealand | North Island
Located in the heart of the North Island, this city is known for its geothermal activity and critically acclaimed tourist attractions.
19. Geothermal Park
50 acres of volcanoes, fumaroles, and pools of boiling mud; you can feel the Earth come alive beneath your feet. Helicopter over Hell’s Gate Thermal Valley to the Pacific Ocean coastline and into the active volcano of White Island.
20. Agroventures Adventure Park
Five of the most iconic New Zealand adventures all in the same area: bungee jump, sky swing, jet boat rides, New Zealand’s only wind tunnel – Freefall Xtreme, and the world’s only shweeb racing in a suspended monorail racing pod.
21. Rotorua Canopy Tour
Voted the best outdoor activity on the North Island. Zipline and swing bridge across the native forest for a thrilling way to experience the forest canopy.
22. Wairoa River Kayaking
Pick from a series of grade 2-5 experiences and raft or kayak through the world’s most commercially rafted waterfall.
Roll down the hills of Rotorua in a giant inflatable globe for some thrilling wet or dry adventures.
24. Franz Josef Glacier Heli-Hike | North Island
After an exciting scenic flight, take a two hour guided hike the magnificent glacier scenery and landscape.
25. Mangaweka Gravity Canyon | Taihape, New Zealand – North Island
Home to NZ’s highest bungee jump and original zipline equipped with flying foxes and giant swings, you can raft through the Rangitikei River (grade 5) after you launch yourself 262 feet into the impressive canyon.
26. Horse Back Riding | North Island
Trek around the peaceful Manawatu River for a leisurely adventure with breathtaking backdrops and natural outdoor experiences.
Awaken your wanderlust.
We have custom New Zealand Adventure Tours and packages that include all of the main New Zealand attractions and activities that are sure you to give a rush of adrenaline and provide you with experiences you’ll cherish for the rest of your life.
We do hope that you find this information helpful. Should you have any questions or need some help planning your New Zealand adventure tours, don’t hesitate to call us directly Toll Free 888-359-2877 (Mon-Fri 8:30am – 5:30pm Central US) or visit www.AboutNewZealand.com. We’d love to help you customize your once-in-a-lifetime bucket-list vacation to New Zealand.
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Our trip to New Zealand was amazing!
It's such a beautiful country with lots of friendly people! Our travel guide did amazing work setting up our flights, hotels, tours, and shuttles, making it really relaxing on our part. So(...)