Glacier Country is a very special part of New Zealand that has World Heritage Area status.
Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier are two charming villages (24 km apart) set amongst some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery. Both villages have easy road access to the terminal faces of the two great icefalls. They slide down from their nevés at up to three metres a day, ending their journey less than 20 km from the sea.
There are many options for exploring the whole area for those with a moderate level of fitness. Signposted tracks can lead you to unspoilt wilderness lakes, rivers, valleys and forests. Here are some easy options:-
Rise early at Fox Glacier to view Mt Cook and Mt Tasman
Drive a short distance along the coast road for stunning views of the cloud-piercing peaks.
Visit Lake Matheson just 5 km from Fox, on a clear morning
View a picture-perfect postcard scene with the peaks reflected in the satin smooth lake surface.
Take a short walk to the Fox Glacier terminal face over the riverbed
Listen to the creaking and cracking as the giant river of ice releases glacial torrents into the rushing river.
Call in to the Fox Glacier Visitor Centre for an update on other local tracks
Easy to moderate tramping tracks are the Minnehaha Walk, Moraine Walk, River Walk, Valley Walk, Chalet Lookout Walk and the Glow-worm Grotto.
Step on to the mighty Fox Glacier on a guided walk
Half day and full-day trips, ice-climbing instruction and alpine heli-hikes are available. See the pinnacles, ice caves and crevasses that make up the glacier’s fractured surface.
Drive out to Gillespie’s Beach on the storm-lashed coast
Experience the remoteness of a wilderness surf beach with snow-capped peaks as a backdrop. The seal colony is a 3 hour return walk along the foreshore.
Drive to Franz Josef Glacier and visit the terminal icefall
The riverbed walk is longer than Fox (around 2 km from Sentinel Rock lookout).
Call into the Franz Josef Visitor Centre
Pick up a leaflet on local self-guided walks such as Douglas Walk, Lake Wombat Walk, Callery-Waiho Walk and longer tramps to Robert’s Point and Alex Knob.
Visit the salmon farm at Paringa
View quinnat salmon in their rearing ponds, feed them and then treat yourself to some sweet delicacies.
Visit Whataroa and take a white heron tour
Paddle a kayak on the Okarito Lagoon and view these majestic birds in their natural habitat (nesting period is November-February).
Drive down to the Haast World Heritage Area Visitor Centre
Examine the excellent displays and take a local walk through wetlands, rainforest and coastal lagoons.
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