Exploring Fox Glacier on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island is a must do on your New Zealand itinerary.
While visiting Fox Glacier, there is so much to do in and around the area, with plenty of spectacular sights, walks and activities. Fox Glacier has something for everyone with options to suit all time frames and budgets. We have narrowed the list down to our top 10 things to do during your visit to Fox Glacier.
Fox Glacier Guiding Hike on the Fox Glacier itself, there are half day Heli Hikes, all day Heli Hikes, Heli Ice Climbing and summer only high guided trips run by Fox Glacier Guiding.
Pick a trip to suit your time frame, fitness ability and budget. Fly up to a remote spot on the Glacier where your guide will take you on an adventure to remember on the ever-changing river of ice. No experience necessary and all the equipment that you need is provided. Just dress warm and bring along a great attitude! Be prepared for a sensory overload.
Have a love for horses or keen to give horse riding a go? Just 6kms south of the Fox Glacier town-ship you will find the home of Experience Fox Glacier Horse Riding. They have 16 well trained and experienced horses where there is a mount to match your riding ability.
They offer different trips to suit your time frame, budget and ability.
You will be able to explore parts of the West Coast that are not accessible to the general public.
Short on time but still want to see the Fox Glacier and surrounding area up close, then book a scenic flight from one of the operators in town.
There are different flight options ranging from 20 to 40 mins depending on how much time you have and how much you want to see! You could fly over the Fox Glacier and or the neighbouring Franz Josef Glacier. Most options will include a snow landing where you get to walk on the snow and take stunning photos!
Hikes & Walks
Like a short walk in the rainforest that could also be done in the dark? Located on the edge of the Fox Glacier township the Minnehaha track is a must do.
There are plenty of glow worms that can be seen hanging out along the edges of this track after dark. Make sure that you take a head touch with you so that you can find your way out again. It is a short walk that follows a small stream through the lush rainforest.
This track is suitable for wheelchairs and buggies, and takes approx. 20mins.
Located on the South Side of the Fox River bridge is another walk which will take you to a view point affording views up the impressive Fox Glacier Valley to the lower Fox Glacier.
You will get a real sense of how far this mighty river of ice has retreated. Glacial valleys are an excellent place to study how vegetation changes over time. As the glacier advances it destroys all the vegetation in its path essentially providing a blank canvas then as the glacier retreats the vegetation can slowly start to grow back.
The return trip is approximately 2 hours.
Feeling extra energetic and have some tramping experience? Make sure you have enough time to climb to the top of Mt Fox, the 360 degree views from the top are worth the effort!
This day hike starts next to the main highway only a 5 min drive south of the Fox Glacier village. Winding its way up through native bush you emerge near a trig and the vegetation changes to more sub alpine. Keep following the track until you reach the top of Mt Fox where you will take in impressive 360 degree views including the breath-taking Fox Glacier and out towards the dramatic western coast line.
It is recommended that you register with the Department of Conservation office before you go off on this climb or let someone know that you are going. Here is a link to an intentions form that you can download https://www.adventuresmart.nz/outdoor-intentions-form/
Visit Lake Matheson, this tannin stained kettle lake belongs to the Fox Glacier itself and is world-famous for its reflective qualities. When conditions are calm and clear you will be able to see the reflections of Aoraki/Mt Cook and Mt Tasman, New Zealand’s highest peaks in its waters. For the best chance of capturing these reflections visit first thing in the morning on a clear day.
If the weather doesn’t allow for the perfect view, the stunning rainforest walk around the lake is still worth your time, there are signs along the way with information about some of our native trees. You may hear some bird song, see a duck on the lake or enjoy either the peace and quiet of being in the rainforest or the calming sound of the rain pitter pattering.
The walk to the first view point is roughly 20 min return, the loop track around the entire lake is about 1.5 hours. Allow extra for stops and photo opportunities along the way.
If you are up for a little extra when it comes to walking for the beautiful views, then a hike up to Lake Gault is for you!
Taking a detour off from the Lake Matheson track you will find a tramping style track that leads you up to Lake Gault where the views are just magic of the ginormous mountains from the Southern Alps, on a still day these mountain peaks will make a perfect reflection on the lake.
This hike takes around 3-5 hours return.
Don’t have time for a walk but don’t want to miss out on some stunning views? Take a drive to the Fox Glacier View Point.
Just 9km off the main highway this is a spot that shows off a stunning view of the Fox Glacier and the Southern Alps, there is a plane table here that points out the names and heights of the peaks and mountains that you can see.
There are some bench seats here so you can linger if time allows and really let the stunning views soak in. Also, with picnic tables available this could be one of the best spots for a picnic lunch or dinner.
Do you love the beach? Gillespie’s beach is worth the trip, just a 21km drive from the Fox Glacier Weheka township.
It is a rock covered beach with wild waves and the views of the Southern Alps are incredible! You will see remnants of its gold mining past and get the true feeling of the short distance there is between the ocean and the mountains.
There are a few different walks that you can enjoy while you are visiting this part of the Fox Glacier area ranging from 5mins to 3.5 hours. You will find a kiosk at the car park with details for each option.