Fox Glacier - The Wild Side of the West Coast / South Island New Zealand.
Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe - is a 13-kilometre-long (8.1 mi) temperate marine glacier located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island. It was named in 1872 after a visit by then Prime Minister of New Zealand Sir William Fox. Following the passage of the Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998, the name of the glacier was officially changed to Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe.
Coordinates: 43°27′52″S 170°1′4″E
Country: New Zealand
Region: West Coast
District: Westland District
Department of Conservation (Docs)
Temperate Marine Glacier
Like nearby Franz Josef Glacier, being one of the most accessible glaciers in the world, with its terminal face an easy walk from Fox Glacier village/Weheka. It is a major tourist attraction and about 1000 people daily visit it during high tourist season. Though people are told not to, some go Above "n" beyond the barriers and access the glacier without guides, whose rapid advance creates dangers of sudden ice and rockfalls.
Fox Glacier township/Weheka, 6 km away from the glacier, functions mainly as a service centre for tourists, though it also services the local farming community, which had been its main focus until the 1990s (though tourism started as early as the late 1920s). The approximate township site was penciled in as early as 1866. Bruce Bay is 46 km to the south-west of the township, and Franz Josef is 23 km north-east. State Highway 6 runs through the town.
Since 2008 the Glacier has retreated at a alarming rate (See picture below)
08 had the Glacier bottom right of the image, Now its just back from the second slope to the left -
As a result to this you can not hike onto the Glacier, as with the Terminal face as it exptreamly unpredictable and is covered in screed from constant rock falls.
A Glacier is simply a large body of ice which is moving slowly downhill and at high elevations the winter snow is forming as ice at a much faster rate then it is melting. Over several years as water seeps in and air is expelled out under the accumulating snow the granules merge to form bluish glacial ice.
Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers stand in a chain of spectacular mountains, tow main ones being Mt Cook and Mt Tasman. This region being the highest area of the Southern Alps lies in the path of westerly air which sweeps of from the Tasman sea, as moisture winds constantly climb the mountains the air cools rapidly causing heaving rain then resulting in snow. Annual Rain fall for the coast is over 3 meters a year, this results in 12 meters high up in the slopes.
22/2/17 i made the drive to Fox Glacier from Wanaka after not wanting to leave the town, just like many other places i visit - Time has to move forward but if we could ever pause moments in time i would be first in on it. I was going to make a few stops on the way like Blue Pools, just at the start of the Haast National Park and Thunder Creek Falls (Creek ? Falls - Yes as this was a towering 30 meter body of water and a spectacular scene it was. From that point on i was TIRED as and especially driving through uninteresting deep valley turns of Haast Pass - Stop at Haast for a break and a phone call to Glacier Guiding to reserve a spot for the Glacier Experience the next day? Nope - Haast is a small you blink your eye type of town "n" you will miss it, Ok drive on / push through and make Fox - Yep i mad wit right on 6pm and thankful the booking centre for Glacier Guides was still open. Booked Heli Hike for the next day. The talk was , Clear beautiful skies for the 23/2/17 - As i woke up at 6am to capture a sunrise at Lake Matheson the Gods were on my side (clear beautiful skies)
It was then onto the Fox Glacier Guides Booking centre for checkin, I have been on this Glacier many times but it never disappoints and i still marvel at the beauty of this natural wonder. We are quickly whisked away to the Heli Pad to where we have a Mandatory Safety Briefing, shoes and other gear. I was on the first flight up which worked out well as we were able to see everyone else fly in and land.
When the other 15 in the group arrived we the strapped our crampons on and grabbed a walking pole if you felt you needed it, Me? NO - Camera on the shoulder or hand was enough... We were then split into two groups of 10 and we had a Christchurch Local named Cam - He had the "Coolest office" In the world. We were off in our Crampons to discover a icy landscape like no other to find Ice Caves and Crevasses and that clearly did not disappoint. We even had plenty of opportunities to consume pure glacial water "bottled at the source" I thought i was smart when in testing the glacial waters by dunking my head not once but twice only to find out that one of the members of the other group decided to go in clothes "n' all.
Below a Video of the Fox Glacier Heli Hike Experience -
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