FAQ'S

Here's some answers to frequently asked questions which we hope will be helpful in planning your trip to Fox Glacier.

Where is Fox Glacier?

The Fox Glacier township is a small country township located on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is approximately

  • 6 hours drive west of Christchurch
  • 5 hours drive north of Queenstown
  • 3.5 hours drive north of Wanaka
  • 2.5 hours drive south of Greymouth.

All of our trips depart from our base on the Main Road of Fox Glacier (State Highway 6). From our building it is about a 10 minute drive to the Glacier Access Road carpark where our walks commence.

The great thing about our town is that it is small and most accommodation is within walking distance of our base in the middle of the township. 

What is the difference between Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier?

 Fox Glacier township is the more 'laid back' of the twin Glacier Country townships, and people often comment on having chosen Fox Glacier for it's relaxed atmosphere.

While the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers share some similar characteristics, terminating at near sea level in a temperate rainforest, they are certainly not identical twins! The Fox Glacier is not as steep as the Franz Josef Glqcier and has a kink in it so it responds more slowly to conditions causing advances and retreats.

Fox Glacier is approximately 2 km longer than Franz Josef Glacier and another major difference is the way in which the ice is accessed. In Fox Glacier access onto the lower glacier is along the river valley floor and then up the moraine wall (side) of the glacier, or alternatively by helicopter to reach the higher section of the glacier. In Franz Josef, currently the access to the ice is by helicopter only.

If cloud allows, Fox Glacier helihikers are able to enjoy the breathtaking views of our highest peaks Mt Cook and Mt Tasman which are unable to be seen from Franz Josef, while taking off on your helicopter flight.

Please click here for further reasons to choose Fox Glacier Guiding for your New Zealand glacier trip.

What has happened to your Lower Glacier Walk on Half Day, Full Day and Ice Climbing Experiences?

LOWER GLACIER ACCESS (September 2014)

During April 2014 an ice collapse on the glacier dammed and diverted the Fox River, making our access track to the true right (as looking down the glacier) unusable for the time being.   This change in river course also affected the ice that we used to access the lower glacier for our Fox Trot Half Day, Nimble Fox All Day and Fox It Up; Ice Climbing Adventures.  As a consequence these three experiences were and remain suspended.

Since then we have been busy working on several options for regaining longer term ice access and this work continues to be on-going. 

As safety is always first this process must be a meticulous one.  This means in the short term it is unclear when any of the lower glacier experiences will recommence so we suggest that you contact our reservations team on info@foxguides.co.nz , phone 0800 111 600 (within NZ) or check our website for updates.

In the meantime it is business as usual for the following unaffected walks:

Flying Fox; Heli Hike

Fox It Up; Heli Ice Climbing

Fox Trail; Terminal Face Walk

 

Is the glacier there all year round?

Yes! This is due to the fact that snow falls up the top of the glacier in an area known as the Neve all year round and it is this snow that feeds the river of ice, otherwise known as the glacier.

Although the glaciers are subjected to advances and retreats it takes a long time to witness any noticeable changes in the glacier's size. Even though we can guarantee that the ice is present all year round, specific ice features cannot be guaranteed. These features come and go very quickly due to the movement of the glacier, however there are new features constantly forming.

What will the weather be like?

Fox Glacier is located in a mountainous area and therefore is subjected to great variations in its weather patterns. The temperature can vary between 0-25 degrees celsius, and the West Coast is notorious for its wild wet weather, hence its magnificent rainforests! Weather and cloud levels can change within a matter of minutes. This is why our helihike weather decisions are not made until 10 minutes before departure time.

For further information and to check the current Fox Glacier weather forecast, please visit NZ's official weather site www.metservice.co.nz

What should we wear on our glacier trip?

NZ's weather is noted for its ability to deliver 4 seasons in one day at any time of the year. Dressing for this sort of weather can be challenging and as a general rule it is wise to use the layer approach. 3 or 4 upper layers such as a light t-shirt (or similar) next to the skin, then a fleecy or heavy wool garment, topped off with a wind-breaker (anorak) is ideal. Jeans are not recommended for our trips as they become very heavy, cold and uncomfortable to wear when wet. Trackpants or long cotton pants are best and shorts are suitable during summer months.

We will supply the footwear, which includes socks, boots and crampons as well as a waterproof raincoat and overtrousers for all of our trips. If you feel that you have not got enough warm clothing on the day, please check with your guide, as we can supply a fleece jacket at no extra charge.

Do we have to make a booking? How far in advance?

Each year seems to get busier in Fox Glacier, as more people hear about the fantastic glacier experiences that we offer. Therefore our advice is to book as early as possible. It is impossible to predict how far in advance particular trips will sell out, so as soon as you know which trip and day you want contact us with your credit card details.

You can do this either via our secure form found on this website or by phoning +64 3 751 0825 or tollfree (within NZ) 0800 111 600 or faxing +64 3 751 0857.

If for some reason you need to cancel your trip, then let us know as soon as possible. Most deposits are fully refundable provided that we receive your cancellation twenty-four (24) hours prior to the reporting time. Please see the booking policy section on this website for more details.

What public transport is available to and from Fox Glacier?

There are 2 companies that operate buses to and from Fox Glacier daily. Their timetables are as follows... 

Intercity Coachlines

Departs Time Arrives Time
Queenstown 7.40 a.m Fox Glacier 3.30 p.m
Fox Glacier 8.45 a.m Queenstown 4.00 p.m
Nelson 7.30 a.m Fox Glacier 6.00 p.m
Fox Glacier 8.30 a.m Nelson 7.45 p.m


For more information and bookings go to www.intercitycoach.co.nz or phone +64 9 913 6100 

Atomic Shuttles

Departs Time Arrives Time
Queenstown 7.30 am Fox Glacier 1.15 p.m
Fox Glacier 11 am Queenstown 5 p.m
Greymouth 7.30 am & 1.30 pm Fox Glacier 11 am & 5 pm
Fox Glacier 8.45 am & 1.15 pm Greymouth 1.15 pm & 5 pm
Fox Glacier 8.45 am Christchurch 5.30 pm
Christchurch 7.30 am Fox Glacier 5 pm
Fox Glacier 8.45 am Nelson 6.45 pm
Nelson 7.30 am Fox Glacier 5 pm

For more information and bookings go to www.atomictravel.co.nz or phone +64 3 322 8883

The great thing about our town is that it is small and all accommodation is within walking distance of the town centre. There are no rental car services around the township of Fox Glacier, but there is a shuttle service called Fox Tours and Shuttles phone 0800 369 287 that will take people to Lake Matheson and Gillespies Beach. Some of the walking tracks are located slightly further out of the town centre, however there are push bikes for hire at:
Ivory Towers Backpackers: www.ivorytowers.co.nz
Fox Glacier Lodge: foxglacierlodge@xtra.co.nz

Is there any accommodation in Fox Glacier?

As each year gets busier in Fox Glacier, the amount of accommodation options including backpackers, motels, hotels, apartments, lodges and bed and breakfast increase. For suggestions on where to stay in town please see the 'accommodation' page.

What else is there to do in Fox Glacier?

As Fox Glacier township is set amongst some of the world's most beautiful, unspoilt scenery, most `things to do' are based on the outdoors.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) maintain a number of tracks which offer amazing views and scenery. For more info contact www.doc.govt.nz or phone +64 3 751 0807.

If an adrenaline rush is what you're after jump out of an airplane with Skydive NZ.

There are a number of helicopter companies in town offering scenic flights over the glaciers and surrounding mountains. It is advisable to book ahead as they can be relatively busy when the weather is fine. 

The Hobnail Shop in the Fox Glacier Guiding Building offers a wide range of quality souvenirs and clothing. The buying philosophy of the shop is to stock 'something for everyone'. If you see something you like here why not check out the stores other branch located in Franz Josef Glacier (30 mins drive North of Fox Glacier) called The Glacier Shop.

The Glacier Shop, like the Hobnail Shop has a wide range of affordable gifts and souvenirs.