Fox Glacier Attractions
Glacier Country New Zealand offers a refreshing atmosphere, native bush, amazing views of glaciers as well as endless opportunities to engage in a wide array of activities and attractions, from the sedate to adrenaline filled adventures. Fed by four alpine glaciers, Fox Glacier is one of the few glaciers to end among the lush West Coast rainforest only 300 metres above sea level.
Fox Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers in the world, with its terminal face an easy walk from Fox Glacier Village. The village itself is a thriving local community, serving the thousands of tourists visiting the area every day during the high season, as well as the local farming community. There are a wealth of activities and attractions in Glacier Country. Below are some of our favourites.
Guided Glacier Walks
The only company in the area to operate guided walks up Fox Glacier is Fox Glacier Guiding. Offering a range of adventures, from a gentle stroll on the glacier, to full day hikes, glacier ice climbing and heli adventures. To find out more, visit www.foxguides.co.nz
Ice adventures are also available on the Franz Josef glacier. To find out more visit www.franzjosefglacier.com
There are several reputable businesses operating both fixed wing and helicopter scenic flights, providing the best seat in the house. With unparalleled views of the glaciers, Mt Cook and Tasman and the rugged coastline of the West Coast, many of the operators cluster on Main Road in the town. For further information, visit the respective company websites at the Glacier Country tourism website.
Cruises and Kayaking (lagoon)
The region offers some of the most scenic lakes and rivers in New Zealand, as well as a rugged coastline. There is nothing quite like the unique view of the world that you can only obtain from out on the water. You can experience this yourself at Lake Mapourika with its untouched beauty and view of the Franz Josef Glacier. It is an ideal place to kayak or cruise. Out at the coast you can also explore the Okarito Lagoon by freedom kayak, guided kayak tour or a relaxed kayak cruise. This pristine environment is New Zealand’s largest unmodified wetland.
If you are a bird lover or simply fascinated by rare and beautiful things venture into the night on a personalised tour to listen to and maybe even see the rarest kiwi in the world; the Rowi, otherwise known as the Okarito Brown kiwi.
If you don’t want to venture into the night then view the Rowi by day at their all year round, all weather indoor home at the West Coast Wildlife Centre. During nesting season you can also take a jet boat ride to New Zealand’s only Kotuku (White Heron) nesting site in the Waitangi Roto Nature Reserve. For more information visit www.glaciercountry.co.nz
Hikes and Walks
The area is blessed with great walking and hiking tracks, whether you are after a short stroll or an adventure in native forest. The Lake Matheson Walkway circumnavigates New Zealand’s most photographed lake, where the Minnehaha walk provides a perfect example of West Coast’s rainforest as it meanders over bridges, trickling waterways, large ferns and moss covered trees.
For those who want an extended hiking adventure, the Copland Track, which connects the Westland National Park to Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. The tracks gets progressively more difficult heading away from Fox Glacier. Make sure you check with the Department of Conservation on track and weather conditions before embarking on these tracks.
Gillespie’s Beach has a fantastic coastal walkway that passes the seal colony at Galway Point, passing through old miners tracks.
Glacier Hot Pools Franz Josef
Nestled in lush rainforest, the Glacier Hot Pools at Franz Josef village are a haven of natural tranquility and the perfect way for visitors to unwind and experience a blissful state of pure relaxation after travelling along Te Tai o Poutini (The West Coast) or enjoying one of its many attractions.
The Glacier Hot Pools are fed by the waters of Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere, the frozen tears of Hinehukatere for her lost love. According to the legends of Ngai Tahu(the local Maori tribe), these tears of aroha (love) were frozen by the gods, forming what is known worldwide as the Franz Josef Glacier, or to Ngai Tahu as Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere – The Frozen Tears of Hinehukatere.
The three invitingly warm main pools and three secluded private pools are nestled within the bosom of Tane Mahuta – Guardian of the Forest with his children, the native bush and birdlife creating a tranquil space to revive your tinana (body), hinengaro (mind) and wairua (spirit).
The pools are conveniently located in the heart of Franz Josef township on Cron Street, and can be enjoyed all year round from 12 noon to 10pm (last entry 9pm). Visit www.glacierhotpools.co.nz
Action and Adventure
Fox Glacier and its immediate surrounds has some heart-thumping action on offer and some interesting ways to see the Glaciers if you are interested in action and adventure. Whether you want to take in the amazing views and lift your heart rate with a skydive, rise the adrenaline levels with a jet boat adventure, get down and dirty on quads and buggy’s or trek on a horse, there is something for everyone. All these activities are listed at www.glaciercountry.co.nz