People at all times ask me what my favourite place on this planet to journey to is, and I at all times give completely different solutions. I play quick and unfastened with the time period “favorite,” if I’m being trustworthy right here. I’ve a whole lot of favorites. So might you cease asking me to decide on?
But in relation to New Zealand, the wild West Coast of the South Island will at all times have my coronary heart. Here you have got unimaginable coastlines, big mountains, historical forests, bizarre birds, and no individuals. It’s the whole lot I’ve ever wished! I’m positive it’s the place I’ll find yourself dwelling sooner or later.
A 3-hour drive north of Wanaka will convey you to Fox Glacier, my-go to West Coast spot. Glacier County is probably the most dynamic and spectacular stretch of the west coast. Here you have got two of probably the most uncommon glaciers on this planet, Fox and Franz Josef, which stretch down from the again of mighty Aoraki/Mt. Cook to the temperate rainforest under. Two lovely rivers of ice, these glaciers are simply unimaginable.
Home to the bigger city of Franz Josef and the smaller city of Fox, I at all times keep in Fox as a result of it has a extra relaxed, native really feel, with a whole lot of issues to do close by. I’m additionally good mates with many superb locals right here, who’ve at all times sorted me. Even after my breakup, I got here right here for a couple of weeks to recuperate. Fox heals.
From Ōkārito to Fox Glacier might be the most effective stretches of coast I’ve ever come throughout. It’s uncommon to see big mountains so near the ocean.
Also, I don’t learn about you guys, however even after ten years in New Zealand, I LOVE it when kiwis say the phrase “glacier.” It sounds so posh to us yanks. Glas-ee-uh. Like “classier” however with a “g” and, properly, with much more class too.
Sure, I might need gone full native with my flippant use of phrases like “bin” and “rubbish.” Now I bandy about phrases like “garage” and “Nissan” like a real South Islander, and I say “wee” means too typically. But even I, with all my bravado, have but to say “glacier” like an area, regardless that I spend an excellent period of time on glaciers. I simply don’t suppose I can pull it off.
I’m so proud that you simply’ve adopted this unimaginable stream-of-consciousness caption. Thank you. And if you end up in New Zealand, ensure you go to one in all our 3,000 quickly-dwindling “GLAS-EE-UHS,” particularly Fox Glacier, which is each my favourite and most simply accessible over on the west coast. Over and out MAH DAH-LINGS. (I swear I’m achieved being posh now); somebody cease me.
To go to Fox Glacier whereas in your subsequent New Zealand journey is assured to please and shock. Here are my must-do’s for an journey right here.
1. Go for a heli-hike on Fox Glacier
It’s no secret – I’ve been a fan of Fox Glacier just about since I moved to Wanaka. Peaceful but serene, the city of Fox sits between the unimaginable Fox Glacier/Te Moeka o Tuawe and the Tasman Sea.
Here you have got one in all New Zealand’s most spectacular glaciers as some of the simply accessed glaciers on this planet, which descends 13 kilometers all the way down to 300 meters above sea degree. As far again because the 1890’s Fox Glacier has been highlighted as a serious vacationer attraction, with the primary guided glacier journeys starting in 1928.
Nowadays, we primarily entry the glacier by helicopter (glaciers transfer so much making their entry tough). Fox Glacier Guides is without doubt one of the OG tourism companies on the South Island; their iconic heli-hikes on Fox Glacier are one in all my must-dos on any journey to New Zealand. No expertise is required, and so they give you all of the gear you want.
Just the helicopter flight as much as the glacier is value it by itself. Then you spend a couple of hours exploring the ice with a information, testing caves, views, tunnels, and crevasses. It’s so unimaginable; the place else on this planet are you able to do that? Visit Fox Glacier for an unforgettable journey.
2. Visit Lake Matheson at dawn
Stillness and serenity are two issues I’m at all times looking for in our busy world, but so typically past my attain. Except, in fact, once I’m on New Zealand’s West Coast, the place you’ll find each in abundance.
I have a look at the images from Lake Matheson and am instantly transported again to this lovely place. I can scent the damp earthy air, really feel the chilliness creep via my garments, and listen to the quiet birdsong because the day begins. Totally nonetheless and peaceable, I’ve this wildly widespread place all to myself.
On a transparent, nonetheless day, you get uninterrupted views of Aoraki / Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s tallest mountain, reflecting within the lake. To go to Fox Glacier and skip this simple stroll could be remiss.
3. Search for the uncommon kōtuku/white heron in Ōkārito
An iconic seaside and lagoon, Ōkārito is New Zealand’s largest unmodified wetland and residential to some excellent uncommon birds. 45 minutes from Fox Glacier, Ōkārito was as soon as a bustling port city. Now it’s dwelling to principally birds, together with the uncommon kōtuku/white heron.
If you like wildlife, you have to be certain to join a morning journey to the well-known lagoon with Okarito Eco Boat Tours. It’s one of the best ways to expertise the wetlands and their unimaginable nature. Over 3,000 hectares, Ōkārito is without doubt one of the greatest wetlands you’ll be able to go to in New Zealand. You see a lot on the water, from birds that reside and feed in contemporary and saltwater environments to wading birds and a few of the rarest creatures within the nation.
The kōtuku was virtually hunted to extinction, with solely 4 nests left by 1941. Considered considerably steady, there at the moment are round 100 to 120 birds left.
4. Stay on the Rainforest Motel and dine at Betsey Jane
Everything about Fox Glacier makes you’re feeling welcome. Very a lot a small city with a homey vibe, Fox has loads of spots to hold up your boots and sit back with mates.
My go-to lodging is the Rainforest Motel, owned by an area household who’s great. Cozy and with the whole lot you want, you’ll be able to stroll in every single place from right here. Betsey Jane is a brand new restaurant close by the place I at all times find yourself for dinner.
5. Watch the sundown on Gillespies Beach
It’s exhausting to think about that 150 years in the past, in the course of the Gold Rush, Gillespies Beach was dwelling to eleven shops. Nowadays, it’s a protracted, black sand seaside dwelling to some seals.
Twenty kilometers west down a gravel highway leads you to Gillespies Beach. The good place to look at the sundown, it’s one in all my fave spots to go for a wander once I’m in Fox. Even in winter, it’s superb to go to Fox Glacier
While you’ll be able to’t see a lot of Fox Glacier itself from the middle of city, the additional you drive out of city in the direction of Lake Matheson and Gillespies Beach, the higher views you get of the Southern Alps.
6. Keep an eye fixed out for kea
I’ll by no means not love the kea – New Zealand’s naughtiest chicken.
Our uncommon alpine parrot, the kea often are solely discovered up within the mountains and at increased elevations. However, Fox Glacier is without doubt one of the solely cities the place kea descend to. Chaos often ensues. In Fox, locals have discovered to lock their garbage bins and retailer issues away from the place kea can destroy them. Hunted close to to extinction a century in the past due to their damaging nature, their inhabitants is barely beginning to develop again.
Usually, visitors on the heli-hikes will see kea flying across the glaciers, sometimes even touchdown on the ice. Beautiful but cheeky, be certain your backpacks are zipped, and your issues are hidden away when kea are about. I’ve seen them throw tramping boots off a cliff. Do not feed them.
7. Explore the traditional rainforest round Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier sits inside the Westland Tai Poutini National Park. Covering 1,320 sq. kilometers, it’s one in all my favourite nationwide parks in New Zealand. More than simply large mountains and exquisite glaciers, the park encompasses a few of New Zealand’s final preserved native temperate rainforest.
One walks into the bush in Fox will make you’re feeling such as you stepped proper into Jurassic Park.
The valley round Fox Glacier is superb, dwelling to historical podocarp rainforest. You can stroll up the south aspect of the valley to get a glimpse of the glacier in addition to New Zealand’s largest energetic landslide, Alpine Gardens, which has destroyed the previous north aspect highway, and stroll to the glacier face. It’s an excellent reminder of how energetic nature could be and the way little we are able to management it.
You can even go up on a guided e-bike and hike journey with Fox Glacier Guides to get the total scoop on the realm, testing secret spots.
8. Visit the kiwi sanctuary in Franz Josef
The rowi and the Haast tokoeka are the 2 most endangered kiwi on this planet; with lower than 600 of every chicken remaining, you’ll be able to solely discover them on this one nook of the West Coast. Rowi are solely discovered round Ōkārito, whereas the tokoeka kiwi are discovered solely round Haast.
The West Coast Wildlife Center runs in collaboration with DOC, and you’ll go to and see a few of these kiwi up shut and private on the middle or on one in all their backstage excursions. The largest kiwi hatching facility on the South Island, they work on conservation round these uncommon kiwi.
In the wild, due to predation, these kiwi are extremely weak, with 9 out of 10 chicks not surviving. Conservation employees take away the kiwi eggs from the wild and convey them again to the middle. Here they hatch safely and are then raised earlier than being launched again to the place they had been discovered as soon as they’re large and robust sufficient to defend themselves.
9. Carve your personal pounamu
Everyone I’ve met on the coast over time has been superb, and Jan is not any exception. I’ve identified her for a very long time, from her days in Franz Josef. Now she runs her personal studio, Te Koha, simply out of city, the place you’ll be able to carve your personal pounamu/greenstone. I’ve made many pounamu necklaces right here with Jan over time, most of which I’ve gifted to family members. While most individuals select to carve the enduring inexperienced pounamu, I have a tendency to decide on the gorgeous aotea stone, which is usually an attractive shade of blue. ‘
Found in colours starting from cloudy mild inexperienced to deep emerald with completely different markings, pounamu was thought-about so important by Māori that the South Island was named after it, Te-Wai-Pounamu which means “the waters of greenstone.” It is treasured by Māori as a result of it’s sturdy and exquisite. It’s additionally an indication of energy or standing, in addition to being thought-about sacred.
Of all of the actions within the space, carving pounamu with Jan is usually everybody’s favourite expertise. It’s an attractive strategy to convey again a chunk of New Zealand dwelling with you.
It’s by no means been a greater time to go to Fox Glacier. Have you been right here earlier than? Is this the sort of place you’d go to? Share!
Many due to West Coast Development for internet hosting me in Fox Glacier. Like at all times, I’m retaining it actual. All opinions are my very own, like you could possibly count on much less from me!