We arrived to Franz Josef on the Westcoast of New Zealand at the Rainforest Retreat – a beautiful lodge located near the world famous glacier! Our journey down was spectacular as we had the Ocean on one side and the rising Southern Alps on the other. With the weather being somewhat uincooperative for glacier hiker we we lucky there were some amazing natural hot pools nearby that we took advantage of! The trip members dunked into pools of various degrees that all had different healing properties. In the afternoon, Chad, Ben, Matt and myself took the rare opportunity to see the nocturnal Kiwi bird at a conservation area nearby. We learned all about New Zealand’s national animal and got up close and personal with two of the little guys.
Relaxed and rejuvenated, we hopped on the bus towards our final destination of New Zealand, QUEENSTOWN! Along the way, we stopped at some spectacular lookouts including the famed Lake Matheson. We marveled at the natural beauty this country has to offer and picked up some kiwi delicacies along the way, meat pies! Our first day in Queenstown did not disappoint, as we made our way up to The Remarkables mountain range for a day of shredding some powder. Our resident boarders, Justin and Zac, took no time to rip down the mountain while filming some serious footage on Zac’s GoPro camera. Our ski team of Hannah, Matt, Jake, Noah, Ben, Andy and Chad hiked peaks and took amazing photos while having the ride of their lives. After a day on the slopes, everyone took to the town and some trip members were brave enough to try out the burgers at the local hot spot, Fergburger. With burgers the size of your head and famous BBQ sauce, no one left unsatisfied!
Our second day in Queenstown was a more relaxing day. The trip member’s were keen on exploring the local shops, so we headed out to town and spent some time walking around. In the afternoon, we traded our sneakers for some ice skates and hit the skating arena. Morgan and Maria were our resident dj’s, requesting some of our trip’s fave songs. The boys took part in a game of hockey, while the girls had a blast skating with the penguin themed sleds available at the arena. Back at the lodge, we fired up the BBQ to grill an epic meal of steak, chicken and salmon (tofu steaks for our in-house vegetarians).
The next morning, we ventured off to Milford Sound, part of Fjiordland and one of New Zealand’s most spectacular sites! We got to see the sun rise over the mountains and took lots of photos along the way as the scenery was out of this world. On the boat, all the trip members staked out the perfect photo snapping spot and we filled up our cameras with shots of rolling hills and waterfalls that seemed as though they were coming out from the sky!
Our last full day in Queenstown was another hit! After a hearty breakfast in town, we checked-in for our jet boat experience. We were given hilarious ponchos and took some shots pretending we were from Lord of the Rings, before boarding the little boats that would take us on a thrilling ride. And thanks to the 360 degree spins, we were all given flattering new hairstyles!!! For our last dinner in New Zealand, we took the gondola up to a beautiful restaurant overlooking Queenstown. Chad and Zac took some great photos from the balcony and we all enjoyed a delicious buffet dinner of local and international cuisine.
This morning we awoke to yet another incredible day in Queenstown, and sadly said goodbye to our amazing bus driver and local guide “Scratch”. After presenting him with a token to remember us by, we checked in at the airport for the next chapter of our adventure…. FIJI!
Until next time!
The Westcoast Blogger