Hiking on a Glacier could just be the most breath taking thing I have ever done.
Asides from feeling absolutely tiny and insignificant, being surrounded by walls of ice, you also have this feeling of amazement, at just how amazing this planet we live on really is.
Fox Glacier is situated on the West Coast of the South Island in New Zealand and is the larger Glacier that resides on the West Coast. Fed by four Alpine Glaciers, Fox Glacier falls 2600m on its 12km long journey to the coast. It gets it uniqueness by being one of the few glaciers in the world to end among lush rainforest only 300 metres above sea level. It is also renowned as one of the most accessible Glaciers in the World too.
The Glaciers here move fast. Because of the unique combination of climate and shape means that Fox Glacier moves at approximately 10 times the speed of other valley glaciers around the world. This is due to the funnel-like shape of the glacial valley and the huge nevé, the snow accumulation area, at the top of the glacier. Fox Glacier’s nevé is 36 square kms, bigger than the whole of Christchurch City! Unfortunately Fox Glacier is in the retreating stage. Glaciers advance and retreat depending on the amount of snowfall at the top of the Glacier and the ice melting in the lower part. An increase of snowfall in the neve' (the top) results in advancing but a faster ice melt in the lower part results in retreating. Fox Glacier was advancing from 1985 to 2009 but is currently in the retreating phase.
Having learnt a lot of this information during my tour it was pretty sad to think that in 50 years, Fox Glacier will probably not exist anymore if it continues retreating as it is. It felt pretty special to see it in the form it's in to think that one day it will just be an alpine valley. We had to take a helicopter up onto the Glacier as where we explore is maybe about half way. The ride was short but absolutely stunning! Having never flown in a helicopter before it was pretty exciting, more of a floating feeling rather than the feeling you have when a plane takes off. Walking around on the ice we had to wear crampons, sharp metal clasps that wrap on to the underside of your boots for grip, the ice is very slippery! Because the glacier moves so fast it changes every day, so our guide had to re carve some of the walk way as we were going along which was pretty neat to see. He mainly used an ice axe for it. We got to explore different areas of the glacier for about 3 hours, including ice caves and some small crevasses! The ice is a beautiful bright turquoise color in places and then a crisp white in other areas! We would come across little pools of the clearest water I've ever seen and even got to fill up our drink bottles with Glacial water before coming back down.
We were very lucky with the weather for our trip, clear blue skies and not too cold - perfect conditions. The weather in this region can be pretty 50/50, because of the small range between the coast, temperate rain forest and the mountains in can get pretty gnarley, but when its good, it's good!
An experience I will forever cherish and most definitely recommend to others
As you know, going around NZ for a month involves a bit of time spent on the road. I am forever grateful for my group's affinity for 90s through current pop music. We sang through the long stretches. hahaha I couldn't have been with a group more suitable to my style of travel and music. And if that's not enough, I just love how REAL people are on an outdoor trip involving many nights of camping. People crawl out of their tents in the morning and one gets to see who they really are at that time of day. Grouchy, sleepy, quiet, chatty, desperate for their coffee to kick in, hungry, not hungry, super duper perky--we had it all! And I loved it. Real people. Real experiences. Flying Kiwi
- Laura Jamison
So the sign up sheet has come around the bus and it's time to sign up for activities. You know what you want to do but you are so nervous you can barely put the pen to paper to fill your name out!
"Abel Tasman Skydive 16,500ft" the title is literally bouncing off the paper edging you to sign up. It is still a couple of days away and you know you REALLY want to do it (and lets be honest, if not now, then when!?) so you quickly write your name down, you see there is a couple of other names there already so at least if you don't make it out alive you won't be going at it alone. (heavily breathing from panic) You pass the sheet back and instantly try not to think about what you have just done!
All of a sudden the day has somehow crept up on you and as you look out the window of the bus you realise your guide is actually pulling in to the jump zone which means it's time! (OMG thoughts are running through your mind! It's too late to pull out, but am i really about to jump out of a freaking plane right now!?!)
Your guide is telling you some instructions over the microphone that you probably should be listening too but for somew reason you have other things on your mind.....
You suddenly notice your Guides have tried to be funny and have started to play relative songs over the stereo such as "jump" by Van Helen - do they realise this is not helping!?
You start walking over with your fellow travel buddies (at least we are in it together right?) and soon enough you are signing your life away...
Your heart is beating so fast you think you're about to have a heart attack! You don't really know what to expect but your doing it.
A tandem master comes over to you and he is your guide that will be attached to your hip (literally) once you are in the plane and all the way till your back on the ground.
"how are you feeling? He asks. I tried to speak but nothing but noise came out....i try again "yes! Good! Great! Why am i doing this again?" he laughs. "lets go over the safety briefing and get you dressed" He says.
So I figure out quite quickly that the skydiving look is definitely not sexy, on anyone, haha! I am in this bright red and white jump suit with a leather cap on and these terrific plastic goggles. looking gooood. The hilariousness of all of us getting gearing up has slowly taken my mind of exctky what we are about to do, without me even realising - feeling more relaxed, perfect. Next i'm getting told that once we leave the plane i must do the "banana". LOL! "I'm sorry the whhaat?" So now that I'm a pro (almost) the "banana is what you must do with your body when exciting the plane so your jump master can stable your fall (as opposed to tumbling lots eek!). Basically, bending/arching you back and legs s much as you can before your guide tells you not to anymore, which is symobolised by 3 taps on your shoulder. (because apparently when you're falling at 200kmph you cant hear anyhting... who would have thought?)
Here we go!! We are walking to the plane to board, I'm the last one to get in. Wahoo! I think, last one to jump. Nope. Completely wrong thoughts.. FIRST ONE TO JUMP! oh god oh god oh god. Off we go, the planes taking off along the runway and i'm calmly telling myself that this is just a scenic flight (I think it's helping).
I'm looking out the window thinking, man we are pretty high, it must be about time to jump. Then my Jump master points out on his altitude watch that we are only half way from where we need to be. "oh, okay" I say calmly when really, I am starting to freak the f*** out!!
"Are you ready?" He says
"No!" I scream back
Then the door wipes open, wind is rushing around the cabin everywhere and suddenly I am sitting on the edge of the plane with my legs dangling out at 16,500ft!!!
"3, 2, 1, juummmpp!!"
... (more freefall)
And the chute is up!! Wooowzers! everything got really tight for a minute and then poof! The air surrounding me is so quiet, and we are just floating around like a gliding bird. We swirl and swirl and float around until we come in for landing, knees up! And i'm grounded! I'm alive! I did it! High fives are shared between me and my tandem master and my fellow travel buddies. I am on the BIGGEST HIGH! and i want to do it all over again.
I collapse into a bean bag and am stunned that i just got to jump out of a plane and that it has become one of the most incredible things i have ever done to date! Worth every cent.
If I can do it, You can do!
This tour exceeded all my expectations from the very beginning when we “slept” in Hot Water Beach. After dinner, we waited with a glass of wine for the tide to go out and then race off to the beach with a shovel. Here we were at midnight digging our own Jacuzzis and digging up hot water. This volcanic country is crazy! It was such a magic night, having a hot water bath in the first line of the beach, under the moonlight… Perfect plan!
Bringing strangers together and watching them bond and create new friendships is something very special to see and be a part of. One of the many reasons why i love my job so much
Memory by one of our Tour Leaders: Steely
Skiing for the first time with perfect weather in Queenstown!
Memory by: Natalia Guerra
Having guided with Flying Kiwi for 3 summers now we were lucky enough to get to take a group of exchange students on a 2 week, student only tour around the South Island of New Zealand during the month of July, Winter! Obviously you can imagine camping would be a bit ridiculous in those temperatures so we had the luxury of staying in carefully selected lodges and hostels throughout the tour.
A highlight for both myself and my guide partner, Tom, was staying at Unwin Lodge, right up in the heart of Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. During summer this location is both one of our favourites by far and the mountain tops are always covered in a dusting of snow because of their high altitude. But boy did we get lucky on this trip! The whole park, down to the road got absolutely covered in a dumping of about 30cms of snow from when we arrived and continued to snow over night, One of our students, Alejandro, was from Mexico and had never seen snow before! So it was a very exciting day for him and to just see the joy in his face was something quite special.
Making sure the kids were all dressed up nice and warm we ventured out from Mt Cook Village to the first swing bridge of the Hooker Valley Track before the weather turned a bit and we decided to head back, but wow, what a time to be at Mt Cook - something I'm sure a lot of those kids will remember for a life time!
Staying at Unwin Lodge in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park with snow falling outside and the rise on almost felt like Christmas! The massive oven baked lasagne wasn't bad either
Quote by - Tom Judd
Memory by - Shannon Higgs
Today was the day I was about to start my Ultimate Explorer trip with Flying Kiwi Adventure Tours. We took off from Auckland in the morning, heading up to the sunny Bay of Islands, with Paihia being our final destination for the day for 2 nights of relaxation. Not even 2 hours into the drive and having not even being in New Zealand for more than 24hrs I am about to go for my first swim in New Zealand!! At the beautiful (and funny named) Uretiti Beach. By the end of my first day on tour, I have been for 2 refreshing swims in the Pacific Ocean and am currently setting my tent up for the evening with beautiful views across the bay, bliss.
These are the views from my tent in one of the campsites facing Lake Hawea. Nothing but breath taking scenery! I remember every single campsite as a unique and amazing place to stay. Every morning I was amazed just unzipping my tent and seeing the beautiful landscape.
A drive that no matter how many times you've driven it, it will still amaze you just as much.
I remember the first time i visited Milford Sound, I was blown away with, not only 'Milford Sound' itself, but the whole drive since entering Fiordland National Park. It's like a barrier you cross and giant Native Beech forest instantly towers above you like you've entered a different world. Views are around every corner from grassy plains, mountainous peaks, glacial running rivers and massive glacier carved valleys that disappear off into the distance. You soon find yourself driving towards a mountain range and then realise that right at the bottom is where the famous "Homer Tunnel" lies and that you're about to drive right through it. The tunnel sits at 945m, and Milford sound is at sea level, so it's a long steady downhill until you reach the wharf.
Coming out of the Homer Tunnel was a whole other experience in itself. You are way up high with the road twisting its way beneath you and surrounded by either magical and misty clouds or, on a clear day, looking up at the peaks of these mountains somewhere 1000m above you. As Milford Sound is known for heavy rainfall you are always blessed with amazing waterfalls cascading from the heights above, no matter what the weather. A little more rain and you get extra waterfalls - so it's a win win in either weather situation i feel.
Boarding the boat and beginning the voyage some 15km out to the Tasman sea, You are first greeted by the iconic image of Mitre Peak, standing at 1692m, you start to feel very small in the Fiord surrounded by the sheer cliffs that tower either side.
If you are lucky, you may spot bottle nose dolphins, NZ fur seals, little blue penguins and the Fiordland yellow crested penguin. And if not, then you are still lucky because you are in one of the most beautiful destinations in the country.
As a Tour Guide, I have been into Milford Sound more than i can count on my own hands and toes, I've seen it in all weather conditions - rain, sun and snow, and I've been lucky enough on different occasions to see a range of wild life whilst visiting too.
And even though I have visited so many times, I get the exact same feeling driving in that I had the first time I ever went, which is a memory i will never forget.