Glacier Country is on the west coast of New Zealand's South Island. Living remnants of the ice ages carve a magnificent landscape on their advance from the vast snow and ice fields of New Zealand's Southern Alps to their terminal face, 300m above sea level, in lush rainforests.
Fox Glacier towers 2300m above sea level and is fed by four glaciers on its 13km journey down the coast. Although it retreated throughout most of the last century, it has been advancing at an average of a metre a day since 1985. The outflow of the glacier forms the Fox River.
Like its neighbour Franz Josef Glacier, Fox is one of the world's most accessible glaciers with its face an easy 5km walk from the village. It is a major tourist attraction and around 1000 people visit it each day during high-tourist season.
Guided excursions to the west coast glaciers were part of the activities offered to guests visiting hotels established by the pioneer families of Fox and Franz Josef.
In 1974, the Fox Hotel relinquished its guiding activities to a mountaineer, Mike Browne, who formed Alpine Guides Westland. It was the first company to gain a concession from the New Zealand Government for glacier and mountain guiding in Westland Tai Poutini National Park. And as the company enters its 40th year, it continues the 100-year tradition of guiding people onto the Fox Glacier and into the mountains of Westland National Park.
Fox Glacier Guiding offers a full range of hiking tours and ice adventures to suit all levels of fitness. The fly-in, fly-out heli-hike combines the excitement of walking on the Fox Glacier with the thrill of helicopter flights. Flying in allows you to access and explore a part of the glacier where its forces work hardest and create spectacular ice caves and arches.
Equipped with sturdy leather boots and equipment, you board the helicopter for your first flight over the pinnacles and pillars of the lower icefall where the ice is in constant motion. You then circle the upper icefall and Victoria Falls before landing.
The landing site is on a remote and particularly beautiful part of the glacier, usually impossible or very difficult to reach. Here the guide outfits you with instep crampons, specially designed for the surrounding conditions. The guide cuts steps and you follow, exploring amazing formations and ice caves. You spend around two-and-a-half hours on the ice, and every trip finds something new.
Just half an hour from Fox Glacier is New Zealand's largest all-weather Glacier Centre and Indoor Ice Climbing Wall. It is the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and one of only seven in the world.
The wall is 200 square metres of fun and challenges. It was created to be as similar to glacial ice as possible and the 10m-high wall has 20 climbing routes, ranging from easy angle slabs through to a challenging overhang. There is an array of angles, corners, bulges and cracks to give the best possible and most natural indoor ice climbing experience.
The experience is safe and fun for all ages and abilities. All equipment and instruction is provided by professional ice climbing staff, and you will be taught everything you need to know to make the session enjoyable.
The west coast of New Zealand's South Island.
Fox Glacier Guiding Flying Fox Helihike four-hour adventures are around $316 per person. Guide, two helicopter flights, leather boots, crampons and alpenstock are included. They run year round, weather dependent.
Hukawai Glacier Centre indoor ice-climbing costs around $75 for adults and $55 for children.
Europcar has car hire starting at $35 a day.
Best Western is offering two nights' stay for the price of one at selected properties throughout New Zealand. This is valid for stays until December 21, 2008 and the first 100 callers will receive a bottle of wine and chocolates. Blackout days apply and this offer is subject to availability. Quote "Getaway New Zealand".
Air New Zealand has special fares to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin or Hamilton. You'll have to be quick they are only available until 11.59pm September 27, 2008 AEST and conditions apply.
One-way fares from:
- Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne $229
- Adelaide $359
- Perth $509
Prices correct at September 25, 2008.
For further information
Alpine Guides Fox Glacier
New Zealand, 7951
Ph: +64 3 751 0825
Fax: +64 3 751 0857
Hukawai Glacier Centre
Cowan and Cron Streets
Ph: +64 3 752 0600
Fax: +64 3 752 0606
Ph: 1300 131 390
Ph: 1300 WESTERN
Air New Zealand
Check out our celebrity Getaway blog or our photo gallery for more Getaway adventure pics.