Exploring South Island’s glaciers

Mount CookIf you’re visiting New Zealand and you consider yourself an intrepid explorer, nothing beats a day on the ice. South Island is home to vast glaciers and visitors can take advantage of the incredible opportunity to scale these snowy structures and take a walk on the wild side. If you’re putting plans together for a tailor-made New Zealand holiday, it’s well worth wrapping up warm, donning your crampons and discovering the beauty of South Island’s glaciers.

Franz Josef Glacier

Located on the West Coast of the South Island in a small town known as Franz Josef, the Franz Josef Glacier is a natural wonder which will blow your mind as you drive up the winding tracks and set your eyes on the icy sheets ahead. The glacier is a sight to behold, and you’d be forgiven for wanting to get up close to the structure. In New Zealand, there’s scope to really explore the natural world and at the glacier, you can participate in a range of activities that afford you the chance to learn more and see things for yourself. You can take part in a half day or full day hike or there is even an opportunity to push the boat out and combine your hiking tour with a helicopter flight over the glacier. This way, you’ll enjoy truly stunning bird’s eye views which give you an idea of the sheer scale and size of the glacier and enable you to see the beautiful scenery beyond. Hiking on the glacier is not easy, and it will require stamina and endurance. However, this is a unique experience and the views are well worth the effort. There is a range of tours available and you’ll be provided with clothing and equipment. The glacier covers approximately 12 kilometres.

Fox Glacier

Just 12 miles south of Franz Josef, you’ll encounter the domineering wonder that is the Fox Glacier. Stretching over 8 miles in length, Fox Glacier is located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park. The glacier is named after the former prime minister, Sir William Fox, who visited the site in 1872. Fox Glacier is fed by four alpine glaciers and it runs a course that stretches from the Southern Alps down to the coast. The descent involves a fall of 8,500 feet. This glacier is different to most, as it terminates in thick jungle forests almost 1,000 feet above sea level. Like Franz Josef Glacier, the Fox Glacier is accessible to tourists and there is a wide range of tours and activities available, including guided hikes, helicopter tours and even skydiving.