THINGS TO DO IN NEW ZEALAND'S SOUTH ISLAND
The darling of New Zealand and the not-so-secret better of the two islands is the South Island. It's massive. It's dramatic. It's wild. It's the adventure capital. It's epic. While I still say the top things to do in the North Island rival the South, it's almost unfair when you factor in the sweeping mountains, towering fjords, and carpets of glaciers. With an opportunity to spend 3 weeks in New Zealand that combined both independent an road trip and group touring with Flying Kiwi, I marvelled at just how incredibly easy it was to fall in love with the country all over again despite it being my second time to New Zealand. It's a country that tempts you to get up close and your hands a little dirty as well. Here are my top favourite places and activities that everyone should have on their bucket list when planning a trip to NZ.These are the top things to do in the New Zealand South Island that you can't miss. I'm still dreaming about the day that I get to go back.This was one of the big surprises for me coming to New Zealand and that may have been because being on Flying Kiwi's Reverse Traverse allowed me to be a bit lazy when it came to planning. The Pancake Rocks and Blowholes is an extremely unique geological formation that was created from the bashing and thunderous battering of the Tasman Sea but even then that barely explains the layers of limestone that form these thin layered columns as if a thick comb brushed through it at one point. As the tide rises, so too does the intensity of the water that surges up the small openings found here, creating a huge wall of spray. Beyond the pancakes themselves, you'll also found a ton of other incredible rock bridge formations and chimney blowholes that also create a mist of fun that makes this 20-45 minutes walk a highlight for any trip to the South Island. It is honestly hard to describe as there's really nothing really like it elsewhere in the world because not only is it an insanely fast boat, you're also zigging and zagging through narrow canyon rock walls that look like they could immediately bash you in but the pilot so skillfully glides along the water like a choreographed dance. What'll surprise you is that it's a decently lengthy ride that isn't just a ride out to the canyon and back so there's a ton of time to savour every inch of the adrenaline rush.You probably didn’t know this but New Zealand has not one but two of the most easily accessible glaciers in the world – Franz Josef and Fox Glacier are both along the western coast of the South Island and present one of the most memorable activities you can do in New Zealand.It’s rare that in a day you can say that you took a helicopter, landed on top of a glacier, slipped on crampons, and got to hike through crevasses and climb up chiseled out staircases. This is a guided experience that takes you deep into an ever-changing icescape. It’s a marvel of sight to be up on this huge mound of slow moving ice.The only other place I’ve been able to do something like this was part of a 8 day itinerary in Iceland but Franz Josef for me will always be etched as my first and one that is a must-do if you’re exploring this part of the country.Franz Josef is where I had my glacier hiking experience but you’re probably wondering what the difference is with Fox Glacier. Both are very similar in my opinion and located virtually in the same area since the two glaciers are in neighbouring valleys. In terms of experience, both are world-class and the hiking will be of the same variety but of course, the landscape will be very different based on the conditions and movement of ice. Technically, Franz Josef is steeper than Fox Glacier but Fox Glacier is larger and 2km longer. I’ve read that the Franz Josef experience is a bit more hands-on and the route is pre-cut while Fox Glacier can sometimes offer smaller groups and more surprises as the routes are decided by the guides once up at the top.