Glacier Walking in New Zealand

New Zealand is a serious beautiful country with so much to see; beautiful beaches of the North Island, bustling towns and cities, breathtaking Fjords and snow capped mountains for walking and skiing, but have you ever thought about glacier walking?

Glacier walking is a truly unforgettable experience and New Zealand is an amazing country to do this in.

On the West Coast of the South Island you’ll find New Zealand’s glacier country and the two most accessible glaciers for visiting; Franz Josef and Fox Glacier.


Franz Josef


Franz Josef/Waiau is a small town that has a scattering of shops, houses and the beautiful Franz Josef hot pools that are definitely worth a visit, however the main attraction to the area is the magnificent glacier that this part of New Zealand is home to. At 12km long is an amazing site to see and glacier walks in this area are just beautiful.

As well as walking on or next to the glacier you can see it by air which I will touch upon below when talking about Fox Glacier.

Franz Josef drops drops pretty steeply from the Southern Alps to near sea-level and this means that the glacier is constantly moving and changing, creating beautiful ice-formations like caves which accentuate the glacier even further.

If you would like to do some glacier walking you can either join a more gentle group that walks around the area, up to the glacier and gives lots of information and history on the ice, or you can go climbing on the ice, the choice is yours. Both experiences are truly magical, you don’t need to be on the ice to get the full experience and understand the enormity of mother natures efforts here, but if you do decide to venture onto the ice you won’t be disappointed, its quite unlike anything else you’ll have done before.

You don’t need to be experience at glacier walking to get onto the ice, full training and equipment will be provided and essentially its like any other walk just a lot more slippy!

The longer the trip you book onto the further up the glacier you’ll walk and the more amazing the views will become, so just put by whatever time you have and take your pick.




Fox Glacier


Fox Glacier is a 13 km long temperate marine glacier and is a  beautiful sight indeed. There are many ways to see Fox just like Franz Josef, walk up to the glacier, ice walk on the glacier or take a helicopter ride and see it from above as well as landing on it.

If you choose to take a helicopter ride to the glacier you are able to reach parts of the glacier than you may not otherwise, often being able to explore the glacier where its forces work the hardest and often create amazing caves and arches.


If you are feeling strong and after a bit more of an adventure than just glacier walking (which I might add is definitely an adventure in itself) then you could try your hand at ice climbing. A helicopter will take you on to the spectacular ice walls in the upper part of Fox Glacier. These trips are for all abilities and you will receive the specific guidance that you need including teaching you basic cramponing and ice axe techniques.

Once you embark on your ice climbing trip you will feel your adrenaline pumping as you navigate steeper pitches and vertical climbs overhanging ice walls and pinnacles.

If you fancy seeing the glacier in all of its glory but not leaving your footprints on this beautiful piece of nature then why not do a glacier walk; the Fox Glacier Valley walk is the perfect choice in the most dynamic and powerful part of nature.

At the front of the glacier you’ll see its Terminal Face where the river Fox emerges from the ice and you may even see the ice collapse into the river.

The views are sensational, but you will will need to join a guided tour for most of this walk since the public paths won’t take you as close to the glacier.




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