I hear a lot of travellers talking down organised tours and I was honestly one of them.
Still reserving my feelings for some planned trips as I see them - Cramped on a bus, popping out to see a monument and getting corralled back up the same steps 30 minutes later. I mean at least they've made sure all 60 of you have taken your Harbour Bridge selfie…
I have spent most of my travel as a solo person or a part of a small group. Mainly because of this way of thinking.
This one trip which is in my top 3 travel experiences; (yep top 3) was however on an organised tour. I know… I may be about to sound like a hypocrite - it’s complicated though.
This adventure forsook the bus for being a group of 8 people together in a minivan. Had a schedule which allowed flexible time. Listened to the opinions of the group to change the days plans a little; keeping in mind we needed to make our accommodation and significant stops.
Most importantly - Didn't get in the way of daily coffee oversampling; in fact encouraged it!
I hope it already is sounding great because it was.
Starting in Queenstown we already had a taste of epic mountains - but the schedule had so much more in store from raging waterfalls in Milford Sound, Lit peaks in Mount Cook Park and glaciers. The William Patino Workshop was a most epic organised experience.
The crowning moment was stepping out of a plane after the most awe inspiring sights from the window onto the top of a glacier. If it wasn't surreal enough being at the same level as the peaks of the mountains - We landed on one!
The plane stopped after skidding to a halt - sliding while the brakes gripped the ice and snow below. Eager and next to the door I jumped straight out. Immediately vanishing the bottom half of my torso into snow - and if you haven’t experienced snow before, it’s wet!
My pants became an immediate annoyance. For this to be one of the best experiences of my life the view had to be pretty astonishing to overcome the uncomfort. No joke it was! White stretching as far as the eye could see, a crisp breeze, and freshly laid snow. The mountains ahead looked close but after running (well stumbling in snow) for probably 500 metres I still wasn't any closer. That's how big a glacier is... huge!
I couldn't wipe the smile off my face or catch my breath for excitement. This high didn't dissipate at all but remained for the whole time the pilot extended for us up there.
The group trip just topped this experience - snowball fights, snow angels, weird dancing and shouts of joy. Our collective enthusiasm outweighed anything that I might've had on a solo expedition.
This moment alone changed my view on organised tours and I actually can’t wait to experience another. As I now have seen they don’t have to be stuffy, robotic, monument selfie driven tours. They can actually allow you to experience the place for what it is while having fun.
This is why this trip makes my top 3 travel experiences I’m sharing with Intrepid Travel.
Enjoy some of the scenery below and a short video showing off the mountain: