New Zealand contains many stunning glaciers, most located near the Main Divide in the Southern Alps in the South Island. In the West Coast, you can view glaciers descending into temperate rainforest and they are the most accessible glaciers in the world.
Day 3, our adventure begins ! Only an hour and a half drive south of Hokitika is the start of Glacier Country.
On the way, we stopped at the clear and beautiful Lake Ianthe which is a popular spot for trout fishing.
We arrived at Franz Josef which was bustling with tourists in our fine summer weather. The glacier is five kilometres from the town of the same name. The return walk was just under 2 hours and was relatively easy (for someone who is not at all into hiking). You get to see mountains, lakes and waterfalls along the way.
If you want to walk on the glacier, you can take a helicopter ride (heli-hike) and enjoy spectacular views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and the Southern Alps.
Feeling great and all sweaty, we headed to Fox Glacier. The town was a lot smaller than Franz Josef. Like its twin, Franz Josef, the glacier descends from the Southern Alps down into temperate rainforest just 300 metres above sea level.
The return walk to Fox Glacier was a bit over an hour. Glacier walk leads you over moraine debris. Glacial moraines are piles of rock that have been scoured from the mountains, as the glacier bulldozed down the valley. These piles of rock and dead ice were left after the last glacial retreat in the 1960’s.
If it had been cooler, we would probably have achieved two glaciers walks in a day. The summer heat was too much for us so we did half the walk and got a good view of the Fox Glacier and drove to another viewing spot for another spectacular view from a different angle.
Both Franz Josef and Fox Glacier were full of visitors. Even when we sourced our accommodation months ago, there were limited options. We were booked at Fox Glacier Top 10 Holiday Park for the night. That was my first experience staying in holiday accommodation with shared toilet and bathroom facility. The cabin was very small but the shared kitchen was amazingly spacious and there were ample toilets and bathrooms so our stay was both economical and comfortable.
Time for a nice cold beer at Lake Matheson Café with chips for nibbles. Feeling refreshed, we did the lake circuit walk.
Apple’s Health told me I broke my own record. Yeah ! 16km walk in one day as compared to my mere 1km walk on most work days.
Time to retire for the night ………………. more of the trip coming up soon !