New Zealand contains many stunning glaciers, most located near the Main Divide in the Southern Alps in the South Island.
Located in the Aoraki/Mount Cook national park, New Zealand’s longest and largest glacier, the Haupapa/Tasman glacier is a must-do when visiting the country. This once-in-a lifetime experience will leave you speechless.
You can go on a heli-hike, glacier-climbing, ski the Tasman, or go for a boat tour on the lake surrounded by gigantic icebergs.
The blue lakes and tasman glacier walk is one of the most scenic short walks in the country. The walk only requires a low to moderate level of fitness. In only forty minutes return, you will gaze at Haupapa/Tasman Glacier, astonishing blue lakes and towering mountains.
Fox and Franz Josef glaciers
The Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers – some of New Zealand’s largest and most-visited – descend down from the Southern Alps and flow almost to sea level. Seeing ancient rivers of ice descending past emerald green rainforest is a sight you'll never forget.
Fox Glacier, tucked into the foothills of the Southern Alps, was named after New Zealand's Prime Minister from 1869 - 1872, Sir William Fox. The village near the glacier holds the same name. A short 30 minute drive away lies Franz Josef Glacier, located in a World Heritage area and named after an Austrian Emperor. It's an easy walk to the terminal faces of both glaciers, but if you're after a closer encounter a guided ice walk or heli-hike is highly recommended.
For a spectacular glacier landing, plan a helicopter ride from Queenstown with Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopter(opens in new window). This 50-minute flight will take you over Queenstown basin, Paradise Valley and Mt Aspiring National Park. Surrounded by gigantic mountains and white covered landscapes, this experience is one to remember.
To reach the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, it's a 3-hour drive from Wanaka or 4-hour drive from Queenstown. A great alternative to consider is taking the TranzAlpine train from Christchurch to Greymouth, renting a car in Greymouth then exploring the West Coast on the way to the glaciers. This is no ordinary train trip - venturing past the peaks of the Southern Alps, it's an unforgettable journey from the East Coast to the West Coast of the South Island.
Because the Tasman Glacier lies on the opposite side of the Southern Alps to Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, the easiest way to get there involves a 4.5-hour drive from Christchurch.