Remnants of the last Ice Age on
the West Coast flow from the Southern Alps’ immense
snowfields to gorge floors just three hundred meters
above sea level.
There is no other place in the
world's temperate zones where glaciers so easy to
get to. Glaciers envelop almost half of the Aoraki
or Mount Cook National Park.
Although mountains and rivers are usually produced
as an effect of geological activity over millions of
years, glaciers allow us to witness the movement of
the earth in a more understandable time scale.
Zealand glaciers move rather quickly - approximately
200 meters annually.
The most famous New Zealand glaciers are the Franz Josef and
Fox glaciers on the West Coast of the South Island. Gashed
out by mobile ice over a period of thousands of years, the
Franz Josef and Fox glaciers are easy to get to for hikers
Several companies provide guided tours to explore the
magnificent ice structures. All companies offer qualified
guides that furnish comprehensive descriptions with regards
to the geological features, fauna and flora of the region.
Helicopters and fixed wing planes also offer scenic
flights and landings on snow in the middle of the
highest peaks of New Zealand, providing great views
of these glaciers.
A variety of walks are available,
encompassing New Zealand glaciers that give great
vantage points for appreciating the glacier in
addition to providing an opportunity to explore the
The mixture of temperate rainforest and ice is a
distinctive feature of the glacier nation of New
Zealand, and its ecosystem is unlike any other found
in the world. The enormous Franz Josef and Fox glaciers on the
country’s West Coast are a must-see for all
visitors. The glacier of the Franz Josef Glacier
located in Westland National Park, is one of the
most magnificent natural attractions of New Zealand.
It is fastest moving and
steepest glacier in the country. At twelve kilometers long,
this seven thousand year old chunk of ice is descending down
a mountain gorge into the rainforest. It is safe to view
Franz Josef from a distance of 15 meters.
Julius von Haast, explorer and geologist, named the glacier
“Franz Josef” in 1863, in honor of the Austro-Hungarian
The Fox Glacier was named after Sir William Fox in
1872. Fox was New Zealand's Prime Minister at the
time. The Fox Glacier is just twenty five kilometers
from the Franz Josef Glacier.
At three hundred meters deep, and thirteen
kilometers long, Fox descends approximately 2600
meters throughout its journey. The township of Fox
Glacier is perhaps a tad more laidback, providing a
more comfortable atmosphere to absorb the beauty of
At twenty seven kilometers long, the great Tasman Glacier is
a dominant piece of landscape equipment. While it gently
carves the gorge sides, it offers a landing place for
helicopters and small ski aircrafts.
Milky and surreal milky lakes are a characteristic of this
park – balanced rock sediments ground by glaciers create the
opaqueness of the water. Approximately fifteen thousand
years ago, this glacier of New Zealand would have spanned
across the shores of Lake Pukaki.