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“Disappointing”

Southern Alps Guiding
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Useful Information: Food available for purchase, Lockers / storage, Activities for older children
Reviewed 2 March 2013

I normally won't write a bad review but this experience has bugged me since we did it over a week ago.
It is the first time in 5 weeks travelling in NZ that we felt miss led or more accurately overstated as another reviewer wrote. It was to be our one eagerly awaited kayaking tour. Thinking we would be kayaking for nearly 4 hours we booked an extra night in expensive Mt Cook in case we were worn out. Having visited the Franz and Fox we were excited to be able to get up close to a glacier. We obviously only looked at the pictures on the website and did not read the info properly, our fault I understand.
In all I estimate we were kayaking for less than an hour, possibly because conditions were so calm it made the paddling very easy but with no ice bergs to be seen and not being allowed within two kilometres of the glacier there was nothing to do but sit in our kayaks and peer into the far far distance. Our guide the Slovakian was friendly enough but had a very hard job to make the trip remotely interesting after he had told us the few facts he knew.
The lake water was dark grey and the surrounding ground and rocks were dark grey and the two km away glacier was dark grey. It was sad to think we gave up kayaking Milford Sound and any number of other incredibly beautiful places to pay almost $300 for an hours paddling.
The other 3 hours were somehow spent on the shortish drive, walk and unloading, loading the kayaks.
The other 4 people on our tour were lovely and it was good hearing the sounds coming from the glacier. I would check first if there are any icebergs to get near to or take the horrible noisy speedboats that are allowed closer and save the kayaking for somewhere better.

4  Thank gina l
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Charlie H, Owner at Southern Alps Guiding, responded to this reviewResponded 5 March 2013

Hi and thanks for your feedback on the trip. I understand how you must feel if there were no bergs on the lake at the time. Unfortunately the day you were on the lake there were no bergs as I understand - this is usually not the case and mother nature didn't provide us with many during the month of Jan and Feb. Yes the lake is grey in colour due to the Glacier rock flour and yes the glacier has morraine rock at its terminal.
Again unfortunately you just missed the big glacier calving we experienced in late Feb and we now have millions of tons of ice floating on the lake. I'm sure if we could take you out on the lake now you would have an incredible experience to say the least. We have the biggest berg we've ever had.
If you find yourselves back here at Mt Cook please call me and we'll organise another trip for you for which I'm sure you wont be disappointed. Can you let me know the day you did your trip?
We've had thousands of happy clients who have experienced our trips on the glacier lakes. It's unfortunate that they have not made their comments know on trip advisor.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Charlie Hobbs

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100 - 104 of 113 reviews

Reviewed 21 February 2013

a most enjoyable experience so I guess that's all that matters.

I think overpriced because there's so little time on the water and you as a customer have to do all the work setting up your kayak, getting it into the water then returning it to it's rightful place when finished.
Time consuming if in a large group.

It also takes about 15 minutes to walk to the starting point so time is taken there.
Perhaps about 1 hr spent on the water.

For safety reason you don't get very close (about 2km) to the Glacier but do get a close up of an iceberg.

Charlie is a great guide with amazing knowledge and experience.

Thank Lyrebird6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 February 2013

I too had an average experience largely let down by the slovak guide. Uninterested and with very little communication (maybe two or three sentences the whole trip) he made the group feel awkward and confused as to what was going on. You cannot get up n close with glacier for safety reason and 2k away is the closest you will get. Disappointing to say the least. All in all it was a disappointing trip, and at $145 per person i thought this was extremely overpriced. Knowing what the trip involves and how close you actually get to the glacier i would be prepared to pay $80 - $100. Even at $100 i still would have been disappointed. Would definitely not recommend this to friends.

3  Thank Samcollinsnz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Charlie H, Owner at Southern Alps Guiding, responded to this reviewResponded 5 March 2013

Hi Sam
I talked to the guide about the comments you made about the day. He told me that you guys did some really good paddling around the lake and visited ice bergs and got to take photos etc beside them. The paddling conditions were good on that day which meant your group was able to visit the places of interest and that each stop he told the group about the area. When conditions are good for paddling to area to area to commentary will be shorter. Yes we stop a safe distance from the front face of the glacier. This is for the guests and guides protection and fulfills our safety plan requirements for operating on the glacier lake.
We've just had a massive calving in late Feb which produced millions of tons of ice which is now floating up and down the lake - very spectacular!! Comments I've received from other guests who were on that trip were positive.
No where in our advertising does it say we go up to the terminal face of the Tasman Glacier. I do heli hiking trips which will take you up onto the ice.
We've had thousands of happy clients who have had an incredible experience on the Tasman Lake. Let me know if you are up this way again.

I look forward to your reply

Charlie Hobbs

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Reviewed 3 February 2013

I joined the sea kayaking in Mueller lake. It was a great experience to throw myself into the great nature and came to touch with history of iceberg. You paddle with a small kayak in a big glacier melting lake, explore around gray and blue parts of the lake, and even drink that water. My buddy, Slovakian guide Lubos, was experienced and well educated, and taught me that the lake was gray due to so called "rock powder." Glacier grounded rocks while sliding the mountains and its powder make the water color gray. This makes the lake too rich in mineral and few creatures can live there. Since you are only with your buddy, you can go to where you'd like to go and get really close to glacier so that you hear groaning sounds of iceberg. If you see it from overlook, you may see only the surface of iceberg, but from lake surface you see the "terminal" which is the end of long long iceberg.
I saw some people upload great pics of Tasman lake, but it doesn't mean Mueller lake is inferior to that or vice versa. It just makes me want to visit the beautiful world heritage again and try the other lake. I am glad to encounter the Sea Kayaking in Information Center and tried one of their tours. You see it, hear it, taste it, smell it, and tough it.
Great thanks to Lubos, friendly staff at Sea Kayaking, and Aoraki.

Thank Taku_LongBeach
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 January 2013

One of the most memorable experiences myself my wife and two adult children had during our 15 day trek around New Zealand's south island was kayaking on Lake Tasman below the Tasman Glacier. None of us have a lot of Kayaking experience, my daughter had none; however, our guide, Charlie Hobbs, led us to icebergs and dead ice areas at a leisurely pace while ensuring our safety and giving us an experience we will never forget.

There are power boat expeditions which take you closer to the glacier, but they do not get as close to the dead ice areas or the icebergs.

Absolutely recommend anyone with moderate fitness to do this, it is worth every cent.

Thank Ashley B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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