While putting this collection of photographs together, I actually ran out of positive adjectives to use. Strong words such as "amazing", "spectacular", "gorgeous", and "stunning" should be used sparingly, but are all more than appropriate for describing the south island of New Zealand. If you don't believe me, just pop in one of the Lord of The Rings movies and gawk at the scenery - the entire trilogy was shot in New Zealand.

We only had nine-and-a-half days in New Zealand and decided to join a tour group to maximize the experience. We also knew that paying for a tour would help to get our arses out of bed earlier and encourage us to partake in more physical activities than we probably would've done on our own.

After pouring through dozens of Google search results of "New Zealand tours", we finally chose to join the 8-day Tui (pronounced "TWO-ee") tour with the fine people at Active New Zealand. What a phenomenal tour (there I go again with another strong modifier)! The tour guides (Elysia and Kyle) were as friendly as could be and very, very fun and full of information. I was a bit reserved at first about taking a tour, not sure what it would be like being stuck with a bunch of strangers for a week, but was happily surprised at just how well everyone got along.

A short list of tour highlights include heli-hiking on Franz Josef Glacier, flying aboard a very small plane to a remote alpine valley in Mt. Aspiring National Park for 2 days of hiking, mountain biking through Eglinton and Hollyford Valleys, and sea kayaking in Milford Sound.


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