For the first week of the Kiwi Experience (hop on hop off bus) I admittedly felt like I was on a bit of a school trip.
The bus will recommend activities, accommodation and along the journey you will also stop off together at certain ‘hotspots’ which are worth seeing but not staying the night for. For example, ‘The Pancake Rocks’.
So yeah i felt like I wasn’t getting as much freedom to roam and explore as maybe I wanted. But the next stop was a 2 day-er so we would be able to make our own way about.
We arrived in Franz Joseph (lower side of the West coast & home to the Franz Josef Glacier) to our accommodation ’The Rainforest Retreat’.
The place was super cute and one of the most stunning so far. It was almost like a little ski resort with huts and log cabins everywhere, surrounded by beautiful snow capped mountains.
Now as i’ve said before – i didn’t do any research into New Zealand before i came so i had no expectations of what i’d be doing and i actually had no idea there was a Glacier here either.
From hearing the gossip, i realised that the Glacier was in the top 5 things to do in New Zealand so suddenly i was intrigued and wanted to find out more.
There is a main ‘tour centre’ in the small Franz Josef highstreet where you can book and look at what activities are on offer.
(You can find their website here.)
They include heli flights in and around the Glacier & Glacier hikes, all varying in price and duration.
The most common one which we went for was the Ice Explorer $299 in which you get a heli up to the glacier and then have a 2 hour trek through the ice and its features.
Unfortunately hundreds of people were disappointed when over a week’s worth of trips were cancelled due to bad weather on the Glacier. It’s very weather dependant because of the safety of the helicopters and no many how many times you moan (we tried) there is literally nothing they can do about it.
After setting my sights on seeing this natural beauty (and going on my first helicopter) I didn’t want to leave without seeing it but we just couldn’t wait around incase the bad weather continued.
So in a state of FOMO (remember the term i introduced to you in the last post?) I opted in for the helicopter ride over the glacier for 35 minutes.
Although the weather was cloudy and by no means perfect for viewing – it was honestly one of the best experiences i’ve ever done.
The Franz Josef Glacier (12km long, slowing moving river of ice).
If you’d like to see some video footage then check out my latest cover of One Republic – I lived, as i put together a montage of footage from my travel so far including the hell ride!
Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOX9LpJ3IPw
After having my breath taken away, me and the girlies headed just across from our hostel to the Glacier pools to relax and warm up…
There are 3 pools varying in temperature and it costs $20 (about £11) to get in.
Once our tummies began rumbling we headed back to the hostel and cooked ourselves some dinner.
…before cosying up in front of the communal fire.
Holding true to their ski resorty type accommodation, they have a bar on the complex with indoor and outdoor areas. We had our first proper night out with everyone here and was really good fun (even more so when your bed is a 1 minute walk away).
I really really enjoyed my stay in Franz Josef and would highly recommend a visit to the Glacier if you ever find yourself in New Zealand.
The pictures really don’t do it justice, seeing such a natural wonder is breath taking and from the close proximity of a helicopter.. well it’s a moment I know i won’t forget anytime soon!