Fox Glacier on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

Fox Glacier on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The west coast of New Zealand’s South Island is a place like no other. Majestic peaks, sweeping valleys and rolling hills cover the land of this magnificent area. Stretching across 50 kilometres of scenic coastline, it is the perfect place to stop on a New Zealand self-drive holiday. Visitors will find this sparsely populated area offers much to see and do, and one such location is the Fox Glacier. This enormous ice river stretches across 13 km in Westland Tai Poutini National Park, and is a must see on any self-drive holiday.

Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier Village

The journey begins with a visit to Fox Glacier Village, a sleepy little town just 6 kilometres from Fox Glacier. Majestic, snow-capped mountains tower over country homes, and lush, tropical forests surround the township, creating an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity. For lodging, visitors can chose from a number of accommodations, while local cafes and shops offer everything from souvenirs to needed hiking equipment. It is here that visitors can find local guides for exploring the surrounding countryside.

Fox Glacier – Guided Walks and Scenic Flights

From the town, visitors can venture out to the world famous Fox Glacier. This stunning landmark is the longest and least crowded of New Zealand’s spectacular West Coast glaciers. Experiencing the glacier is easier than ever, with numerous Fox Glacier guided walks and scenic flights available for visitors. For a unique experience, helicopters soar through the air, offering spectacular views of the glacier below. Many helicopter tours will even land on the glacier, for an up close experience. For the more adventurous, skydiving over the Fox Glacier is spectacular, and the area has been voted the second most scenic drop zone in the world.

Of course, the best way to fully experience the amazing beauty of the area is from the ground. It is only here that visitors can walk through spectacular ice caves and explore the deep crevasses that make up the glacier. While some may venture out on their own, many areas of the glacier are only accessible with an experienced guide. A number of local tour companies provide various tours ranging from easy guided walks to overnight Alpine trekking. For the truly adventurous, ice climbing adventures have visitors climbing vertical ice walls while teaching cramponing and ice axe techniques. No matter the skill level, everyone will have the chance to explore this amazing landmark.

Lake Matheson

After a long day on the glacier, a visit to Lake Matheson is essential. This peaceful haven features impressive views of glistening mountain peaks that rise above the lake, and reflect in its dark waters. Encircling Lake Matheson is a 2.6 km walkway where visitors will see native plants and enjoy lookout points offering stunning views of the lake and mountain ranges. The first kilometre is even wheelchair accessible. Bird watching is also a popular activity here, and a number of different species are sure to delight and surprise.

So whether taking a dangerous trek across the glacier, relaxing in the village or walking around scenic Lake Matheson, visitors are sure to enjoy their time at Fox Glacier. Peaceful farms and beautiful rolling hills create the perfect environment for relaxation, while treacherous crevices and deep ice caves are sure to keep the adventurer busy.

About Richard Wolskel


Richard is a UK expat Sandgroper. As owner of Go New Zealand he has been a frequent traveller to New Zealand and the “Land of the Long White Cloud”. His love of travel has taken him to all points of the globe, and loves learning about new cultures, hiking on remote trails, meeting the locals, and experiencing life in other countries.

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