This area of the west coast is famous for its magnificent glaciers nestled in the snow-capped mountains. Fox Glacier, the most accessible glacier in the region, offers guided tours that allow you to explore the active glacier on full or half day explorations.
|Ready to hike Fox Glacier!|
Fitted with snow gear and cramp-ons, we headed up the mountain towards the large receding glacier for our full day hike. With a beautiful blue sky, sunny day, we couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather. Our guide Andy, an Irishman and experienced mountaineer, guided us along the glacier, cracking jokes and telling stories as he ice picked a path for us across the glacier.
|Our guide Andy cutting us some ice steps|
Since the glacier is constantly changing, different aspects of the glacier are created that offer a unique tour each day. We were able to explore a number of crevasses which are cracks that develop along the fracture zone, creating an open top tunnel to walk through.
|Enjoying the beautiful day exploring the glacier|
As we explored a couple small ice caves, the sun shone through creating a beautiful blue hue to the ice. It was absolutely beautiful. Despite walking on a giant sheet of ice, it was surprising how easy it was to walk with the cramp-ons and how effective they are at digging into the ice.
|Exploring the ice caves on the glacier|
After a quick lunch on the rocks a top the glacier, we made our way towards the ice wall. Huge cracks and crevices are formed along the wall creating a beautiful view of the giant glacier. Andy created a walkway up inside one of the large crevasses – it was spectacular!
|Inside the glacier wall caves|
After about 5 hours exploring the glacier, we made our way back to dry ground, stopping along the way to see the many beautiful waterfalls cascading into the glacier.
|Beautiful mountain waterfall in the distance|
Jordan even got to catch a glacier ice way along the way!
|Riding the glacier wave|
After a long day in the sun, we made our way down to the Gillespies Beach, a DOC campsite situated right on the Tasman sea. On our way, wild sheep (or what looked to be) lined the sides of the roads, with a few babies tagging behind!
|I can’t get enough of the baby lambs|
As we walked up the beach, the waves crashed on the shore as the wind blew in. We carefully touched our toes in the Tasman sea trying not to get sucked in.
Just before sunset, the low hanging clouds parted, offering a spectacular view of Mount Cook – the tallest mountain in New Zealand. A perfect backdrop to our cozy beach side campsite.
|Mount Cook in the distance|
NOTE: Fox Glacier now only offers heli hiking experiences on Fox Glacer
Check out Episode 14 – Fox Glacier
My wife and I are headed to New Zealand in March (a dream trip for each of us before we even met) and a Glacier Tour (getting on the ice) is high on our list. We prefer the hike option to get on the glacier (have only seen the heli options so far) and wondered what company you went with for this trip? Also, anything else you would take time to see in the area besides Gillespies Beach and Lake Matheson? Thanks for taking the time to document your experiences so well for those who, like us, are planning where to go and what to do!
Thanks so much glad our blog and videos have helped you plan your trip 🙂 We did the hike with Fox Glacier guiding but it appears they now only offer the heli options which is really too bad. You can hike up near the glacier (well at least you used to be able to) but weren’t allowed to actually get on it without a guide.
As far as other stuff on the west coast goes, we haven’t done it yet, but we’ve heard the heli rafting is amazing, te ananui cave system offers cave rafting, etc and if you want an intense but cool walk to a hot pool in the mountains check out Welcome Flat
Good luck and have a great time!