Visit Fox Glacier to discover the breathtaking alpine scenery of the South Island’s west coast. The name Fox Glacier refers to both the glacier and little resort town that has sprouted up nearby.
Despite being so far south, Fox Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers in the world, along with the neighboring Franz Josef Glacier. That’s because of the nearby town and good roads. With a population of about 300, Fox Glacier revolves around tourism but the town also supports the local farming community. The scenic town sits about 2.5 hours to the southwest of Greymouth and 3.5 hours northeast of Wanaka.
Head the few miles to the west of town to see the natural marvel that is the Fox Glacier. Spanning 8 miles (13 kilometers) in length, the glacier drops 8,500 feet (2,600 meters), from high in the Southern Alps to just 980 feet (300 meters) above sea level, where it finishes amid lush forest.
Make the short hike up from the car parking lot to the glacier’s terminal face. See mounds of moraine under the ever-changing glacier wall. Huge chunks of ice can fall from this terminal point at any time without warning, mixed in with the debris carried down from the mountain by this mass of ice.
Get a more in-depth glacier experience by paying for a tour. A scenic helicopter flight is the easiest, but also priciest, way to see the spectacular ice formations. A heli-hike will get you onto the glacier, so you can climb and hike through the surreal landscape on spiky shoes with a guide. Ice climbing is available as an option for the fit and the brave too.
Don’t leave before taking in some of the other natural wonders around. Just to the west, Lake Matheson reflects the surrounding forest and Aoraki /Mount Cook and Mount Tasman in its mirror-like pool on still days. A short drive away, the Minnehaha Track is an atmospheric walk through moss-covered and gnarly trees mixed with lush ferns. Do the walk at night to spot glow worms in dark grottos.
Fox Glacier may feel remote and foreboding, but is surprisingly easy to reach and a marvel to explore.
Accommodation in Fox Glacier
Booking a convenient hotel is the first requirement for those after a successful vacation. You can compare some of the best Fox Glacier hotels or other accommodation options on Expedia's comprehensive hotels page.
If you and your family are interested in finding a room at the premier end of the range, check out the Distinction Fox Glacier Te Weheka Boutique Hotel, located at Main Road, State Highway 6, or the Misty Peaks, at 105 Cook Flat Road. Alternatively, The High Peaks Hotel, at 167 Cook Flat Road, and The Westhaven Motel, at 29 Main Road, State Highway 6, are two properties that might be preferable if you are a bit more budget conscious.