Marie Stone

Marie reports here on our blog about travel, adventure and weddings.

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Glaciers – see them before they are gone

A visit to the South Island will not be complete unless you see the mighty ice rivers of Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers on the West Coast. Together with Milford and Doubtful Sound, the glaciers are among New Zealand’s most visited natural attractions and with good reason. Hire a Bus on the West Coast to see all that it has to offer.  You can take a Fox and Franz Josef Glacier tour on foot or by scenic flight and there are a number of different ways to do so. Heli hiking has become a popular way to experience the glaciers with the way it incorporates a scenic flight, snow landing and glacier walk all in one. Scenic flights depart Fox and Franz Joseph Glacier by helicopter or fixed-wing plane.

You can take a short scenic flight or combine your flight with a unique snow landing and the opportunity to stay a little longer on the mountains and enjoy the view. There is also a variety of glacier walks available which cater for all ages and abilities. If adventure and adrenalin are the things you crave, an ice climb should satisfy your inner mountaineer, all under the watchful eye of an experienced guide. Overnight Alpine trekking is available for those that want to spend more time in the outdoors. 

Fox and Franz Josef Glacier attractions and activities are not limited to the glaciers.  Westland National Park also provides a Mecca for outdoor activities including white water rafting, kayaking, 4 wheel driving, skydiving, trout fishing and horse riding. The villages of Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier are conveniently close to the glaciers and provide a great choice of Westland accommodation along with excellent dining options. Walking and tramping trails surround the area and there are many historical places of interest to discover. You can trace the steps of the first explorers or uncover remnants of the mining and forestry era or visit the site of an old pa. Glow-worm caves, hot pools and kiwi viewing are among the many other attractions in Fox and Franz Josef Glacier.

The other natural wonder worth a visit during your stay is the mirror lake of Lake Matheson. On a clear day, the Southern Alps are mirrored perfectly in the lake’s reflection making it one of the most photographed lakes in New Zealand. The small settlement of Okarito provides a restful visit full of history, native birdlife and sheltered beaches. Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers are easily reached by bus so that you can uncover the treasures this natural wonderland provides.

The West Coast has so much you can do.  Check out this page on further activities on the West Coast of New Zealand.