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A Journey into Glacier Country

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Aerial view of Fox Glacier, West Coast, New Zealand
Aerial View Fox Glacier
West Coast
Photographer: Gareth Eyres
(www.exposure.co.nz)

On the West Coast, remnants of the ice age cascade from vast snowfields of the Southern Alps to valley floors just 300 metres above sea level—the West Coast Glaciers. Nowhere in the world’s temperate zones are glaciers so accessible.

The West Coast Glaciers include the two most popular glaciers, the Fox Glacier and the Franz Josef Glacier.

Franz Josef Glacier

The Franz Josef Glacier is located in the Westland National Park, about five kilometres from Franz Josef township.

There are a number of walking tracks around the Franz Josef Glacier. The walks offer stunning views of the glacier, glacier valley, Waiho River and colonising plants.

There is no accommodation at Franz Josef Glacier, but there are plenty of places to stay in nearby Franz Josef Village

» Franz Josef Glacier Travel Directory

Fox Glacier

The Fox Glacier is located about six kilometres from the Fox Glacier township. The township is situated on State Highway 6, some 170 kilometres south of Hokitika.

The Fox Glacier Valley has a range of walks offering spectacular views of the glacier. At 13 kilometres long, the Fox Glacier is one of the longest of the many glaciers within Westland National Park.

There is no accommodation in the valley, but there are plenty of places to stay in nearby Fox Glacier Village.

» Fox Glacier Travel Directory

Glacier Activities

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Climbing the Franz Josef, West Coast, New Zealand
Climbing Franz Josef
West Coast
Photographer: Adventure Films
(www.nzphotography.com)

A range of companies offer guided excursions to explore the spectacular ice formations. All companies provide professional guides that give full explanations regarding the geological features, flora and fauna of the area.

Helicopter and fixed wing aircraft also provide scenic flights and snow landings amidst New Zealand's highest peaks overlooking the glaciers.

A range of walks exist surrounding the glaciers that provide excellent vantage points for viewing the glacier as well as exploring the rainforest environments.

The villages of Franz Josef and Fox Glacier are good bases from which to explore the glaciers.

Glacier Conservation and Safety

The glaciers are managed by the Department of Conservation. The glaciers are subject to river surges, falling ice and rock and other dangerous conditions. Be sure to read and obey all warning signs. Further things to remember include:

  • Take your rubbish away with you
  • Do not light fires
  • Do not feed the wildlife
  • Follow the marked tracks
  • Do not modify or remove any safety signs or barriers
  • Do not advance past rope barriers
  • Do not attempt to cross enlarged or rising streams

» West Coast Regional Information

» West Coast Travel Directory

» Fox Glacier Travel Directory

» Franz Josef Glacier Travel Directory

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