Five Unforgettably Epic Winter Experiences

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Helen Winter

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Written by: Holly Smith

Make the Most of the Chilly Months

Make the most of the colder months by experiencing something incredible, like seeing the Northern Lights in Alaska, hiking mighty glaciers in New Zealand, or working a ski season in Canada.

The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)

This flickering curtain of green, red, blue and violet light has been a long standing phenomenon that backpackers all over the globe are eager to see. This incredible light display occurs as a result of solar particles colliding with the gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, making for one awesome light show.

The best places to view the Northern Lights are northern parts of Alaska, northern and middle parts of Canada as well as the northern bits of Denmark, Iceland, Greenland, Finland and Sweden. The most frustrating thing about this natural display is that nobody knows for sure when you’ll be able to catch it, although chances are best between October and March. Our advice would be to go somewhere far from artificial light, take some (very) warm clothes, and have patience – be sure to book for more than just one night, or book a tour which offers another night of light searching free of charge if you happen to be unlucky.

Experience the Arctic

An Arctic adventure is one of the most incredible ways to spend the colder months, giving you the opportunity to see an extreme version of winter.

Alaska, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia all make up the Arctic Circle, one of the most fascinating areas of the globe. As well as the amazing sights of glaciers and endless snow, these landscapes offer many excursions and activities, like dog sledding and snowmobiling.

Work a Ski Season

The ultimate way to combine earning some money with perfecting your ski or snowboarding skills is by getting a job on the slopes. Just imagine spending your winter working in the mornings, hitting the slopes in the afternoons, and relaxing in a hot tub in the evenings. Whether it’s the resort towns of Whistler in Canada, or the Remarkables in New Zealand, they all need seasonal staff. There is a whole range of jobs on offer too, from chalet maid to bar work, hotel staff, to lift operators.

For those that are up to it, you can apply to work as a ski or snowboard instructor. This way you can work and ski or snowboard at the same time! There are loads of courses out there to get you up to instructor level and then it’s just a case of grabbing your salopettes and goggles and heading to the slopes.

Hike Glaciers in New Zealand

Experience the living remnants of the last ice age by exploring the New Zealand glaciers. The Fox Glacier is the largest and longest of the magnificent West Coast glaciers, but perhaps most impressive is the fact that it descends almost into the mild climate of the rainforest, and a mere twelve kilometres from the sea. Then you’ve got its neighbour, Franz Josef, which is officially the fastest moving glacier in the world.

Both Fox and Franz Josef are two of the most accessible glaciers in the world, ans there are plenty of local guides in the area willing to take you on a snow walks onto them. You can also downhill and cross country ski on the Fox Glacier during the winter months, so you might find yourself in the Tai Poutini National Park longer than you planned.

See the Erupting Geysers of Iceland

Boasting the highest level of geo-thermal activity, sulphur streams, and springs in the world, Iceland has gained a reputation for feeling like a prehistoric land. Seeing powerful jets of steaming hot water shoot 60 metres in to the air is not an uncommon sight. The most popular place in Iceland for hot spring activity is Geysir (where the world geyser comes from), home to a whole load of active geysers, including Strokkur, which erupts at regular intervals.

Many of the hot pools are treated as hot tubs by visitors, so be sure to schedule a dip in your itinerary. After a quick run through the breezy Icelandic air in nothing but your swimmers, the reward of naturally hot water is a welcoming experience, and certainly not something you can do every day.

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