If you’re in New Zealand, you cannot pass up on visiting the magnificence of the West Coast glaciers. I talked in detail about how glaciers are formed in Hiking on Ice at Fox Glacier, New Zealand.
Long story short, where we were lie a great crack – the Alpine Fault. Along this crack, 2 plates of the Earth’s crust collide and slip past one another, pushing up the Southern Alps 10-20mm every year. The height of the Southern Alps thus make it perfect for glacier formation. At the terminal face, meltwater from the glacier is carried downstream by floodwaters.
Instead of flying up on a helicopter, in this post, you’ll find the cheaper alternative to witnessing the glorious glaciers – by foot!
To see New Zealand’s glaciers up close for free, you can hike up to the terminal face of the glacier. It’s a self-guided, fuss-free and affordable way to be as close to the glacier as you can without having to pay for a guide. Of course, for a small fee, you can also have a guided tour. Fox Glacier Guiding Co runs a Terminal Face Walk tour at NZ$65.
Don’t expect to be ON the glacier though. The hike takes you to the very base of the glacier, where ice turns to water at this level. It is here that the Fox River emerges from the ice and where ice collapses are often heard and seen. This is the final resting place of the ice that has travelled 12 kilometres from the base of the Southern Alps, all the way down to the river valley floor.
We got to stand up close with waterfalls that reach all the way up to the sky. You won’t miss this giant waterfall in its splendour – a sight we never expected to see! Girl in red at the bottom of the picture to show the waterfall’s relative size. :O
To get there, follow the sign near the bridge that connects Fox Glacier town with Franz Josef town. The road will lead you all the way in, and the trail from there is established and safe.
It’s a short walk. You can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour one-way along a rocky terrain (remember the ice that falls down the glacier break off large boulders and grind at smaller rocks). You sometimes get to skip over rocks to cross a shallow stream!
18 May 2016, Wednesday
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