178 Rankers Reviews
13 Fox Glacier
Author And Researcher
I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.
I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!
FREE MAP - The best of 21 nature guidebooks on one map.
Close encounters of the glacier kind. Few other places in the world have glacier which descend to such low altitudes. And so easily accessible. This is high mountains at low elevations. No wonder the world knows about it.
The Fox Glacier terminal face walk is where rainforest meets ice. Stick to the track and adhere to the warning signs. It may look sedate but should the ice fall, people die here. Keep your distance and you'll be safe, sound and happy as a sandfly in a nudist camp!
The track is closed by DoC when there has been rain, or if is raining hard. Pay attention to those warning signs. Don’t be a dick and risk someone else’s life to save yours.
Fom Fox township, head south and turn left before crossing the Fox River. It is 4 km to the road end carpark. On the way are signs showing where the glacier was in 1750 and 1935. Fuel for thought.
This track is periodically closed due to rain and risk of rockfalls. It sometimes involves crossing side streams and may mean wet feet.
The signs at the beginning of the track are updated daily and warn of conditions. The final section to the glacier viewpoint is steeper. Do not cross the barriers.
In high summer this can be a bit of a highway.
Why does Fox Glacier descend so low? It’s a combination of factors.
The West Coast receives a prodigious rainfall due to being a high mountain barrier in the path of moisture laden air circumnavigating the globe in the belt of winds known as the Roaring Forties. Translated to snow, the upper accumulation area, known in geology speak as a nevée, receives around 40 m of snow per year. That’s not a typo. As the layers build up, the weight of overlying snow compacts the flakes to hard ice, which due to gravity starts to flow. Just like a river. The Fox Valley then funnels this ice into a steep descent, penetrating the rainforest.
Apparently due to some phenomenon called ‘Climate Change’, the glaciers are retreating. If you visit over a number of years you can see this with your own eyes. Mind you, 17,000 years ago, the Fox Glacier was 11 km off shore from the present coastline, 20 km distant.
The Fox Glacier was named in 1872 after the visit of then Prime Minister Sir William Fox.
South Island ▷ West Coast ▷ Fox Glacier
Showing 13 reviews of 163.
Road closed. Gate locked. As of September 2020
20Oct18. Weather dry and reasonably warm. A well made path to the viewpoint but very steep in places. Also a bit of rock hopping over water but not too bad.
There are 2 400m sections saying “no stopping” as rockfalls are likely.
The view is good but the glacier is a long way off.
It might be a good idea to go sooner rather than later. We were here in 2006 and the glacier has receded a lot since then. Back then we were down at water level and not far from the glacier end. We were able to touch lumps of ice. No longer possible although there is a sign at one point saying about guided tours. Didn’t find out more and how close you can get.
Gorgeous walk with awesome views in every direction. The steep hill at the end is not worth the slog for grandma! Let her sit in the shade somewhere while you ascend for the not-as-exciting-as-most-hope-for finale. A short detour to the river allowed us to dip our tired feet in cold glacial melt water - no swimming and obviously do not explore these areas unless you are guided. As with other popular walk carparks, do not rely on the toilets being clean as they tend to get bombarded by hordes of road-trippers.
Romy de Boer
This walk is a must do. Stop for views of waterfalls, blue pools - nature in the greatest form.
Great walk through huge canyon. Views not as great as Franz Josef. Big uphill near the viewing point and clearly some recent slips...stick to the well marked track.
Nice walk and stunning view of the glacier.
The final viewpoint of the terminal face is somewhat disappointing due to the distance, but the journey there is worth it. Sheer cliffs line each side of the valley with sparse vegetation the place has a slightly barren, extraterrestrial feel!
Nice walk to the glacier with steep nature formed rocks. Got some ice out of the river. Nice view of the glacier at the end. But too many other people.
The place is very nice and quite good for the tourists... the walking is well marked and the toilets are very clean.
Stunning scenery and interesting information about the glacier but there was not much to see of the glacier.
Awesome scenery but not much left of the glacier.
100% free and absolutely amazing. Very easy to get to Fox Glacier and the DOC provides some interesting information. Very sad to see where the glacier was in previous years though.
DOC walk was good with nice views of the glaciers. Nice to be able to get so close to the glacier.
Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍