aboutWe are Akila and Patrick. Our minds (and waistlines) expand as we travel, cook, and eat our way around the world with our two dogs.
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spiced chocolate + glacier hiking

Fox Glacier

Turquoise blue lake in front of Fox Glacier

I hate the cold.  My toes despise being shut away in woolen socks and heavy shoes, I feel bulky and overstuffed in sweaters and scarves, and my always-cool hands freeze through the winter.  But, I do love the holidays and the contrast of warm melting food with the cool crisp air. 

Fox Glacier Ice from Fox Glacier
Ice on Fox Glacier Fox Glacier

Ice on the glacier

When we first began discussing hiking Fox Glacier, my worry was not whether I would be able to physically endure hiking for eight hours up steep ice and across a mountain, but whether I would be warm enough to last the day.  It turns out that climbing up a glacier is pretty hard work; I was not only warm but hot and began shedding layers of thermal sweaters as we hiked.  We started by trudging 900 steps from the bottom of the glacier to the point where the ice crawled down the mountainside.  There, we strapped our heavy hiking boots to crampons, a fancy word for metal spikes hooked to straps which could double as a medieval torture device.

Hiking up Fox Glacier Hiking up Fox Glacier

Hiking Fox Glacier

At the beginning, we walked on steps carved into the ice every day with pickaxes by the ultra-fit folks at Fox Glacier Guides.  Then, we went off the beaten path following our guides Jenny and Jerm who sprayed ice chips behind them  as they notched small footholds for our feet to cling in the slippery ice.

Steps in Fox Glacier

Pickaxe in Fox Glacier

Steps on Fox Glacier; pickaxe

The scenery, ever varying, ever beautiful, was like nothing we had ever seen before.  Every guidebook lists Fox and Franz Josef glaciers as a "must see" and they are --- we felt like insignificant insects in the columns and hills of ice that twirled and whirled around us.  As we went into each gully and crevice, we felt like we could chance upon Superman's Fortress of Solitude at any moment.

Sheet of ice

Ice cliff

It was about two o'clock when we started thinking about chocolate.  I blame the cold and the white fluffy clouds that look like marshmallows and the pit in my stomach developing from constantly climbing up and down ice.

Bittersweet chocolate

Bittersweet chocolate

It wasn't just any chocolate we were craving --- though I wouldn't have said no to a Snickers bar right then --- it was thick, luscious, creamy chocolate with a hint of cinnamon and chili pepper that would warm my throat and my stomach.

Ice from glaciers Fox Glacier

Blue peaking out from the ice

Don't get me wrong.  We were still in awe, amazed by the incredible alienness of the place and the way the blues fled across the white of the ice and the gray of the dust that coated the ice crystals.  But, we also wanted chocolate in our bellies.

Chocolate simmering with cinnamon and chilies

Chocolate simmering with cinnamon and chilies

That, of course, led to a discussion of our favorite foods and after several mentioned that they wanted pizza or chocolate or a steak sandwich or whatever, I said that I wished I could have a plate of homemade pasta with lemon braised baby artichokes with slow roasted tomatoes and bufala mozzarella on the side.  I think the people we were hiking with thought I was weird.

Spiced chocolate poured into cup

Pouring spiced chocolate

That has nothing at all to do with this spiced chocolate or with glacier hiking, of course.  The point of this rambling story is that glacier hiking is as incredible as spiced chocolate.  Both are "must do" items in our books though one will chill you to your bones and the other will warm you to your toes.

Spiced chocolate

Spiced chocolate, thick and creamy

On second thought, maybe they do go well together since you are certain to burn off calories in the ice and gain some calories with the chocolate.  And, whether you plan to spend time playing in the cold, basking in front of a fire with some hot cocoa, or enjoying time with your family this weekend, we hope that you have very happy holidays.


Fox Glacier Guides is the only touring company for Fox Glacier.  Both our guides were fun and friendly and, if you have the endurance, we recommend doing the full-day Nimble Fox tour rather than the half-day Fox Trot which only goes up the pre-carved steps.

Fox Glacier from afar Fox Glacier from afar
Franz Josef glacier in lake Franz Josef glacier

Views of Fox Glacier from Peak Viewpoint; Franz Josef glacier

If you have time, drive to Peak Viewpoint about 5 kilometers from town to see a complete view of the glacier and the mountains.  Franz Josef glacier seemed a bit more touristy than Fox Glacier but at Franz Josef you can go through ice caves on your hikes.  We chose Fox Glacier because we wanted a less touristy atmosphere but I think both are good choices.

I don't normally mention campervan parks because there isn't much to say but the Fox Glacier Holiday Park is worth a mention because it is the best holiday park we stayed at in New Zealand.  The kitchen was large and spacious with ten stovetops, the Internet was fast and cheap, and, best of all, the showers were huge with plenty of hot water and had an attached dressing area.  We meant to stay one night but stayed here for two nights because we loved this holiday park.

Spiced Chocolate

Adapted significantly from David Lebovitz Wittamer's Belgian Hot Chocolate
Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4 people


8 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (we like bittersweet but semisweet would work well too)
1 pint fat free half-and-half
tiny pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 dried red chile pepper, sliced open and seeds removed
1 1/2 teaspoons of brown sugar


1.  Warm one cup of half-and-half over medium-low heat with chili pepper, chopped chocolate, and pinch of salt, stirring until chocolate is smooth and melted.

2.  Whisk in remaining half-and-half a little at a time until chocolate reaches desired consistency.  I like my hot chocolate nice and thick, so I only used half a cup.  Add brown sugar and cinnamon.

3.  Remove chili pepper from hot chocolate.  (If you like your hot chocolate a little spicier, you could add a pinch of chili powder at this point.)

4.  Use a hand-held blender or a whisk to mix the hot chocolate until very smooth.  Serve warm in small cups.  This is rich and delicious stuff!

03/26/2011 08:22
I loved the post. I never realized just how stunning New Zealand was! The hot chocolate with cinnamon and chili spice sounds tasty. What a great experience for you both.
Lisa's recent blog post: Prayers for Japan
03/29/2011 09:51
Thank you Lisa! New Zealand is so stunning - seriously, the most beautiful country we have ever been to as far as natural beauty.
Akila's recent blog post: a girl in the bonaventure cemetery
08/13/2011 13:06
Those pictures are incredible. New Zealand is definately on my bucket list. You absolutely have to swing round to Norway though if you loved NZ. I've been there twice now, once in the summer and once in the winter and I just cant get enough. Very highly recomended. Although it is expensive, there are ways to travel that make it accesible, noteably by giving up alcohol and eating out!
08/17/2011 07:21
We've heard such good things about Norway, M! We met someone recently who spent a couple weeks there and they said it was one of the most beautiful places they have ever been. Sigh. Too much beauty to see and experience in this world!
Akila's recent blog post: weekly photo: penguins at boulders
08/04/2015 19:37
jesus phrak
Those pictures are very impressive with me. Did you really take photography of them? They are all beautiful nature scenes.
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11/14/2011 10:49
Amazing pictures from that glacier... And the hot chocolate simply looks delicious !
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11/29/2011 12:21
I like the photos very much, the nature is really beautiful in New Zealand.
02/02/2012 23:39
you got me at 'chocolate' hehe. that cocoa drink looks so luscious...yummmmm...perfect after an icy hike!
Jen Laceda's recent blog post: Zucchini Fritatta
02/24/2012 01:54
I must confess that I clicked on the article because of the hot chocolate picture, but wow are the rest of the photos amazing. Still, it's the chocolate that makes me salivate, not the glacier. Thanks for the recipe, will try it tonight.
Kyoto Gion's recent blog post: A guide to Osakas nightlife
03/12/2012 06:15
Thanks Kyoto Gion! I hope you enjoyed the chocolate.
Akila's recent blog post: spain: the low-down
03/07/2012 09:48
Those pictures are amazing! We must try and get over to NZ next time we come to Australia. I'm not sure I'd have been up for an 8 hour hike though, even with a delicious hot chocolate at the end of it.

I make spicy hot chocolate too but use a fresh chilli (taken out at the end, same as yours).
sophie's recent blog post: Christmas porridge
06/27/2011 11:57
There, we strapped our heavy hiking boots to crampons, a fancy word for metal spikes hooked to straps which could double as a medieval torture device.
03/09/2012 10:56
These pictures are so amazing! I might go to NZ in the near future so I will definitely keep this destination in mind. In the mean time, I will try this great hot chocolate recipe, I love anything with a bit of spice!
Kirstin's recent blog post: Midnight snacking on fried frog
03/24/2012 08:10
What a great post! Chocolate and glacier hiking... in the words of Tina Fey - I want to go to there.
Kim@Galavanting's recent blog post: Paniolo-Style Horseback Riding on the Big Island
04/06/2012 11:36
Now is Fox Glacier on the south island, toward the west? Wanting to go to NZ more and more.
Keith's recent blog post: The Days Are Getting Longer
04/25/2012 10:47
Thanks for another brilliant post! Two of my passions in life are mountains and chocolate so your story was soul food to me. I'm looking forward to trying out the spiced chocolate recipe very soon.
Sonya's recent blog post: 10 iPhone Apps Youll Love
05/02/2012 16:28
I like the hot and cold contrasts in this post! Not sure which I like more, the photo of the turquoise water or the hot chocolate pouring into a cup...
11/03/2011 09:01
Thanks Gourmantic!
Patrick's recent blog post: rainbow cotswolds
05/25/2012 10:31
Amazing pictures!!! Like you I don't really like the cold, but for some reason I too ended up in the middle of it all, -17 Celsius degrees, snowy mountains wherever I turn and a red nose blinking like a warning sign telling me it's about to fall off..!
In short, I could really need a cup of chocolate like that right now.....
05/26/2012 16:09
Glacier hiking looks amazing! Definitely on my travel list. Now I want to try that chocolate too. Great post!
Sarah @ Green Global Travel's recent blog post: ENDANGERED SPECIES SPOTLIGHT: Sumatran Elephant
05/29/2012 09:56
Thanks Sarah! It is amazing - one of our all-time favorite things we've done AND it's a very environmentally conscious activity, too, because you don't ruin the glaciers when you create these small holes in them.
05/30/2012 03:41
Thanks Kim! :)

Keith, Fox Glacier is on the South Island, basically smack in the middle of the west coast. It is about a 3 hour drive from Queenstown and 3 hours to Westport. Go to New Zealand! You'll love it.
Akila's recent blog post: spiced chocolate + glacier hiking
06/10/2012 15:47
That's amazing scenery, & although I realised New Zealand was quite mountainous, I hadn't heard of glacier hiking there before. That Chocolate would be just the thing - with chillis sounds slightly South American. I was hoping you'd found some little mountain hut serving it in the middle of no-where as you might in the Alps, rather than just tasting it in your imagination
Heather on her travels's recent blog post: Empty splendour at the Residenz Palace in Munich
06/21/2012 09:02
Thanks Gourmantic and Friedl!

Lindsey, I totally know what you mean - I tell you, if someone had built a hot chocolate stand at the bottom of that glacier, they would have been flooded with money. And, the TKTS line in New York is just insane - we are heading to NY next week and I foresee that I will be freezing while trying to get tickets.

Kirstin, thanks so much! Definitely head to New Zealand if you can - it is one of the most beautiful countries we have ever been to.
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09/05/2012 01:26
Chocolate dishes add our mouth with saliva due to its sweetness and flavorsome smells.Its productive for me to learn how to prepare this dish.
09/09/2012 23:35
Well, that just looks like an excellent hike and a damned good mug of hot chocolate! YUM!!!!
10/03/2012 13:56
Okay, that chocolate looks amazing!! I officially have to try that recipe. The glacier look spectacular as well, of course. Just distracted by the mouthwatering hot chocolate, lol.
10/24/2012 12:42
Thanks Reena!
10/03/2012 14:00
Fly Girl, Thanks! I promise that I will be posting our lemon braised artichokes recipe once it is artichokes season again because it is my all time favorite recipe.

Sophie, There were people of all ages and varying fitness levels on the trek so I think most people can do the hike. But, we were quite sore the next day. I love the idea of using a fresh chili - I wonder if that changes the flavor profile. I'll have to try it next time.

Heather, New Zealand amazed us because we saw so many types of climates in the country. We were surprised to find glaciers, too! Some entrepreneur needs to set up a hot chocolate stand at the bottom - really - because I wish we had tasted it in real life rather than just our imagination!
Akila's recent blog post: lavender ginger creme brulee
10/03/2012 14:00
Eeeks -- -17 degrees sounds frightful. Hopefully, you will find that warm cup of chocolate soon!
11/29/2012 04:42
woow... great..

I tried the recipe and it's really taste good..

Thanks AKila
12/04/2012 21:40
We went to the Glaciers a few months ago but didn't do any actual ice walking. We found a great cafe at Lake Matheson for coffee and cake afterwards though. Your hot chocolate looks brilliant.
12/05/2012 18:27
Thanks Sonya!
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12/10/2012 15:26
Wow! Great post! I love the pictures and I can definitely relate to your distaste for cold climates. This made me think of a recent experience in Times Square. Blake and I were waiting in the TKTS line last night in chilling windy weather for about 2 hours. We did get some Broadway tickets, but we were thinking about how someone could make a killing if they just served hot chocolate to the patrons waiting in line! I would have paid about $5.00 for a cup.

Just a suggestion for some backpackers looking to earn a bit of extra cash in a city with a tourist line or two...

02/15/2012 10:09
That is a fantastic idea! Akila and I are definitely ready for some warm weather since we have been braving the Bora in Croatia.
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01/07/2013 12:04
Those glacier picks are jaw dropping but I must admit, your description og pasta with lemon braised artichokes distracted me. Hot chocolate with hot spices is my very favorite way to drink it so I was totally taken with your recipe.
01/08/2013 03:13
enjoy reading your blog. like the love for food and travel. :) so thought would pass some of that appreciation along by nominating you for the "sisterhood of the world bloggers award".

if you are interested, more details here: http://merrytogoaround.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-award/
01/08/2013 14:57
Aw, thank you Bhavani! I really appreciate it. :)
01/08/2013 03:48
This is such a Great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. It gives in depth information. Thanks for this valuable information.
01/18/2013 07:21
awesome pics, yum yummy hot chocolate
02/25/2013 05:37
The chocolate sounds delicious and I will try it, but to go glacier hiking in New Zealand - that rocks it all. NZ is the most beautiful country in the whole world, you are so lucky to go on such adventures there!
03/12/2013 02:06
I too hate being cold. I'm sure that a rich, delicious mug of hot chocolate would've been a perfect end to your hike. Gorgeous photos! I think I'll give this recipe a try with semisweet chocolate. Yum!
04/10/2013 03:58
You got me! Chocolate lover here. LOL! I will try that recipe.
06/14/2013 02:45
Great photos. I had a chance to see a few glaciers when I was up north, including the Salmon Glacier by Hyder Alaska, which was an awesome sight.
06/21/2013 19:26
That's such a great pairing! I'm going to have to try that recipe. I just posted a recipe for "Chocolate de Agua" (a Dominican traditional dairy-free hot chocolate with cinnamon) you should try, and I definitely need to try this spiced chocolate, oh my!
Looks like a beautiful hike!
07/14/2013 15:29
Thanks Jade! It's delicious and I love your idea of Chocolate de Agua. Yum!
04/04/2014 07:18
Glacier climbing looks amazing! Definitely on my journey record. Now I want to try that candy too. Excellent post!
07/11/2015 12:19
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07/11/2015 19:52
Maximina Derica
Such wordless pictures. It must have been a great thing to do them in the right timing. Clash of clans online Hack.

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