Glacier Climbing

Famous for its natural beauty, diverse ecosystem and culture, New Zealand is also a great place to visit for those interested in extreme sports. Hostel World writer Niamh Ni Mhir describes his adventues in glacier climbing, whale-watching, and jet-boating as well as watching a Maori dance and joining in the rauckus nightlife of Queensland in his story Been There – New Zealand.

“New Zealand has to have one of the most diverse landscapes of any country in the world with bubbling hot springs, volcanic pools, fjords and the most amazing mountains and lakes. I arrived into Christchurch, which is a quiet, laid-back city. From here it was across the mountains and valleys to Greymouth on the west coast of the South Island.

Next it was down to Glacier Country and Franz Josef Glacier in particular. It was here that I did one of the most amazing adventure activities (and there are plenty in New Zealand). We spent an entire day climbing the face of Franz Josef Glacier, all decked out in our wet gear with spikes and ice-picks. For someone who has never done anything like this before it was quite daunting, but very exciting. Our guide was excellent and ensured that no-one in our small group of 10 people fell into a crevice and that we stuck to the trail, which had been picked out that morning by the first climbers into a track of ice steps. A whole days climbing seemed quite a task as we set out that morning, but it became more enjoyable as the day went on. We had spectacular views of the glacier and learned a lot about the huge ice formation we were climbing. The highlight of the day was sliding down a natural ice-slide, which was formed that morning and would likely not be there the following day.

After Franz Josef it was off to the adventure capital of New Zealand – Queenstown. The nightlife here was every bit as good as everyone said – with that much adrenaline about it would have to be. The next adventure activity on the list was jet-boating which involved speeding through a rocky gully, almost touching the cliff face, before turning to speed off in the opposite direction. Queenstown is New Zealand’s skiing and snowboarding center, but unfortunately there was no snow when we were there, and I didn’t fancy trying a bungy jump.

We headed back towards Christchurch next and on to Kaikoura, feeding ground of the Sperm Whale and many other whale species. On our whale-watching trip we saw 3 sperm whales, seals and a number of dolphins.Next it was over on the ferry from Picton to Wellington to visit the government capital of New Zealand. Wellington is another interesting city, most famous for it’s Beehive Parliament Building.

From Wellington I headed north to Rotorua, famous for the rotten egg smell from the volcanic pools of sulphur. Here I attened a Maori Dance Show where I got an interesting insight into Maori culture and also learnt the Haka.”