10 Far-Off Destinations at the Edge of the World

Ilulissat, Greenland (Photo: Iurie Belgurschi/
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on December 9, 2013. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Antarctica, Argentina, Australia, Botswana, destination, Greenland, Jamie Moore, Newfoundland & Labrador, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Tibet.

Ilulissat, Greenland (Photo: Iurie Belgurschi/

Miles away from anything that's even remotely familiar to most travelers, these 10 secret edge-of-the-world vacations are the types of fantastic, faraway places you never thought you'd make it to. They're extreme destinations that inspire soul-searching as you stand at Earth's outermost reaches and stare into the never-ending abyss of a new frontier. Read on for a roundup of remote adventures that involve mountains, deserts, icy tundra, and other uninhabitable conditions ripe for your next rite of passage.


Mt. Aspiring National Park, South Island, New Zealand

Untouched and remote, this national park on New Zealand's South Island is so striking, so otherworldly that it was the set for The Lord of the Rings movies. At Mt. Aspiring National Park, where civilization as you know it ends and Middle-Earth fantasy begins, aquamarine ice edges ancient glaciers on mountains. Rocky landscapes are like sculptures. And glowing green moss droplets blanket dense forests. It's the edge of a completely uninhabited, epic landscape.

How to Experience the Edge: Heli-hike, heli-ski, rock climb, ice climb, or mountaineer. Guided hikes to glaciers and jet-boat rides take you deep into the park, to places you never knew existed.

Getting There: Fly into Auckland and connect to Queenstown on South Island. You can hitch a ride with an alpine helicopter pilot and fly over the Crown Range and Pisa Mountains, or drive through them to get to the village of Wanaka. From there, you can fly, walk, or boat into the park.

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