5 Fox Glacier Must-Dos
Things you can’t miss in Fox Glacier!
When hitting the West Coast of New Zealand, Fox Glacier is unmissable! (Not just because it’s an awesome place but it’s literally on the main road through the West Coast). Along with the Franz Josef Glacier, it is home to one of the most accessible glaciers in the world meaning that one way or another you can’t miss experiencing the Fox Glacier! The Fox Glacier has left a number of stunning land formations in its wake too from mirror lakes to a dramatic glacier valley. With all that in mind, we’ve put together this concise list of Fox Glacier must-dos!
This must-do list for Fox Glacier has something to suit every budget while travelling New Zealand. Be sure to check out Glacier Country – Guide for Backpackers for more things to do in Fox Glacier!
1. Fox Glacier Valley Walk
[UPDATE: this walk is closed due to the Glacier Access Road being washed away in a slip. It’s not expected that the road will open again soon].
Whether you are doing a glacier heli-hike, scenic flight, skydive, or whatever, we first and foremost recommend the Fox Glacier Valley Walk. Here you’ll appreciate the rapid retreat of the glacier with markers indicating its retreat over the past few decades. The 1-hour return walk is at the depths of a grand glacier valley to a viewpoint of the Fox Glacier Terminal Face. Follow the markers and stick to the track for your own safety in this ever-changing environment. An alternative to doing the hike yourself; learn more about the area on a guided hike.
Location: From the Fox Glacier town, take State Highway 6 south for 2km then turn left down the Fox Glacier access road just before the Fox River Bridge. Follow the road all the way to the end car park where the track starts.
2. Heli-Hike on Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier is one of the world’s fastest-moving glaciers meaning that heli-hike tours are always changing and exciting! Thanks to its tunnel-like valley, ice caves are frequent with plenty more fascinating features to check out, whether its waterfalls, crevasses, stream and more. The Fox Glacier also sees a lot let “traffic” than its neighbour, the Franz Josef Glacier, so you might want to take that into consideration when planning you glacier adventures. Needless to say, we recommend taking the opportunity to get on the glacier for the awesome valley views from the helicopter and to explore this surreal force of nature with Fox Glacier Guides.
3. Check out Lake Matheson
For that postcard-perfect picture of New Zealand, head to Lake Matheson. A 1h30min loop walk takes you all the way around the lake or it’s just 45-minute return to a jetty viewpoint and back. Lake Matheson is New Zealand’s most famous “mirror lake” with vivid reflections in its dark waters. On a clear day, you’ll see reflections of all the highest peaks in New Zealand, including Mt Cook and Mt Tasman. Guided walks of Lake Matheson are also available. For more awesome lakes check this out.
Location: From the Fox Glacier town, take the Cook Flat Road for 5km where Lake Matheson is signposted on the right with a huge car park.
4. Skydive over Fox Glacier
Skydiving over Fox Glacier is a double-whammy of epicness. First, you have one of the most scenic flights you can have in New Zealand (and the world, but we might be biased) as you fly over the Southern Alps, see Mt Cook and Fox Glacier. Then you get the adrenaline experience of freefalling at 200km/h from up to 16,500ft! If you’re considering doing a skydive in New Zealand then Fox Glacier is a strong contender. Compare the skydives at 12 Places to Tandem Skydive in New Zealand.
5. Watch the Sunset on Gillespies Beach
Gillespies Beach offers a number of walks with views of the Southern Alps behind and the Tasman Sea in front, as well as mining tunnels and even a tramping track to the next beach over with a seal colony. However, to keep things simple, ending your day at Gillespies Beach watching the sun go down is something not to be missed while in Fox Glacier!
Location: Gillespies Beach is 21km from Fox Glacier town. Head west along Cook Flat Road for 8km. Turn off to Gillespies Beach Road and follow for 11km to the end.