Visiting Fox Glacier is a must when touring the West Coast of the South Island in New Zealand. You can hike to a lookout point about 500 meters from the glacial front for free, but we recommend getting up close and personal with the glacier via heli-hike. This option is certainly not free at 400 NZD, but the experience is well worth it.
The tour starts at Fox Glacier Guiding‘s headquarters in Fox Glacier Township. You’ll be provided with waterproof pants and jacket if you need them. From there, you are bussed ten minutes away to the helipad. Your guide will brief you on safety and fit you for snow boots. In groups of four or five, you’ll head out to the helicopter and fly to the landing zone on top of the glacier. The eight-minute flight is just beautiful.
*Tip: Layer up — it’s quite cold while you’re walking around. Also, due to the low cloud ceilings, it often mists on the glacier, so make sure your cameras are waterproof or water protected. I wore a scarf and kept my camera covered unless I was shooting.
When you land, your guide will provide you with crampons to put on your boots to help you walk around on the snow and ice.
The glacier is massive — be prepared to feel really, really tiny! Your group will walk in a straight line following your guide as he takes you on a safe route around the glacier.
The glacial pools are incredibly blue and clear. You can even fill your water bottle up at the small streams running down the ice.
My favorite part of the day was crawling through a pressure arch created as the glacier’s movement slowed and bent the ice.
After about two hours on the glacier, the helicopter will pick you back up and return you to your shoes where you’ll bus back to the township.
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Travel on, Beaches 🙂