South Island Glacier Trip

5 Days


Central Queenstown to Central Queenstown


  • Ancient glaciers
  • Alpine lakes
  • Aoraki Mount Cook

Best time of year

All year

This itinerary connects some of the South Island’s most beautiful destinations. From Queenstown you’ll journey to the river and rainforest environment of the West Coast. See the glaciers, then drive on to explore the historic town of Hokitika.

The road to Arthur’s Pass village is mountainous and memorable - stretch your legs on a bush walk before you continue on to the heritage and art attractions of Christchurch.

Turquoise glacial lakes are the gateway to Mount Cook National Park – explore the mountain trails before you return to Queenstown via beautiful Lindis Pass and the Kawarau Gorge.


Lake Wanaka is a beautiful base for both winter skiing and summertime adventures

Photo by Lake Wanaka Tourism

Day 1 / 5

Queenstown - Fox Glacier

4 hrs

9 mins

333 km

207 mi


The alpine resort of Queenstown is exciting, sophisticated and fantastically scenic. It’s the place to source almost any kind of adventure, including bungy, jet boating, horse trekking, rafting and river surfing. It’s also a destination for luxury experiences – gourmet food and wine, spa treatments and leisurely games of golf.

The shortest route to Wanaka is over the Crown Range Road. It’s a challenging drive, but the views are amazing and you’ll probably encounter friendly keas (mountain parrots). More conservative drivers can take the route that runs beside the Shotover River, Lake Dunstan and the Clutha River. The vineyards of the Gibbston area and bungy jumpers at the Kawarau River Bridge are interesting distractions along the way.

Wanaka can provide you with an appealing mix of fine living, family fun and adventure. It has a high concentration of cafes, restaurants and interesting shops. You’ll also find some unique attractions, like the 3D maze and the ‘warbird’ air show, which is held every two years.

Lake Hawea is the first scenic highlight of your journey, followed closely by the northern end of Lake Wanaka. The famous ‘bra fence’ is impossible to miss – it started as a joke, but it’s become a local legend. At the wilderness town of Makarora you can fuel up and refresh before you take on the dramatic twists and turns of the Haast Pass. Enjoy waterfalls and river scenery as you arrive in rainforest country.

The settlement of Haast was once a construction camp for the Ministry of Works (the government department responsible for road and bridge building). It’s a town with a touch of the wild west – helicopters fly deer hunters into the rugged ranges and local pubs make a feature of stuffed animal trophies.

Just north of Haast is Lake Moeraki, a peaceful forest lake with good fishing – a 40 minute walk takes you to the penguin colony at Monro Beach. Next is pretty Lake Paringa, where you can enjoy a delicious meal of salmon at the salmon farm. Just before Fox Glacier is the western end of the Copland track. In half a day you can walk to the hot springs at Welcome Flat.

The terminal face of Fox Glacier is just 5 kilometres from the township that serves it. The road to the walking track crosses ancient moraine from earlier advances and retreats. Fox Glacier was named after an early New Zealand Prime Minister, William Fox.

Bungy, Queenstown

Start in Central Queenstown

Queenstown is a place for adventure and indulgence. From sky-diving to fine dining, this resort town offers something for everyone.


End in Fox Glacier

Tucked into the forested foothills of the Southern Alps, the cosy township of Fox Glacier is geared up for glacier walks, hikes and flights.

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