In 1894, when a trio of mountaineers became the first humans to successfully summit Mt. Cook, they witnessed a view that no other eyes had ever had placed before them. In every direction, as far they could see, the white spires of the Southern Alps lay silently beneath their feet, and the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean could be seen on the distant horizon. When visiting New Zealand today, however, it doesn’t take days of frigid mountaineering in order to get the same view. In fact, one of the best ways to see Mount Cook from above is simply to drive to a field or airstrip and let a pilot take over from there.
We know what you’re thinking: Glaciers are already cold enough, so why would anyone want to visit in winter? While the ice on Fox Glacier is definitely cold, what makes these Polynesian glaciers unique is that they spill through a rainforest on a semi-tropical island where the weather is warmer than you might expect. Even during the winter months of June-August, the temperature in Fox Glacier rarely dips below freezing and there is very little snow or ice. In fact, if you don’t mind the cooler temperatures, visiting Fox Glacier in winter is actually considered the best time of year to visit, since crowds are smaller, the weather is drier, and mornings can be beautifully clear.
Even though Christchurch has minimal snowfall doesn’t mean there isn’t great skiing. Thanks to the proximity of the Southern Alps, Christchurch skiers are closer to the slopes than trying to go skiing from Auckland, and travelers wanting to go skiing near Christchurch have numerous options to choose from. At Mount Hutt—less than two hours from […]
It only takes about five seconds to realize that Fiordland is special. Squired away in the southwestern corner of the fantastically-scenic South Island—a place where the landscape is so magically surreal it was used to film the Lord of the Rings—Fiordland is a place of of unaltered beauty where nature trumps the impact of man. Jagged mountain peaks rise from grassy plains that are pockmarked with cobalt lakes, and patches of snow and misty fog help decorate the alpine peaks.
For the most part, when European settlers arrived in New Zealand, they started in the north near the Bay of Islands and gradually worked their way south. Dunedin, however, is a curious exception, and this blustery port town to the south of Christchurch was one of the nation’s first European settlements. In the 1820s, salt-crusted sealers would seek safety and shelter inside protected Otago harbor, and it wasn’t long before a Scottish settlement slowly took root on shore. The University of Otago—New Zealand’s oldest—was established in 1869, and the discovery of gold in the Otago plains meant the rush to Dunedin was on. There is more history in this South Island town than almost anywhere else in New Zealand, and the best Dunedin museums are ones that highlight this vibrant past.