Sad but true, the glaciers won’t be around forever, and for many people visiting and touring New Zealand, our glaciers are a big drawcard. We love helping people out planning their ‘Dream Trip’ to New Zealand, so here are our Kiwi tips on visiting the glaciers, what make ours different and why you should definitely visit a glacier on your New Zealand trip.
The most popular, and easiest, glaciers to visit in New Zealand
So many ways to get close to, on or over our glaciers
Kiwis being kiwis, we’ve got you covered on the glaciers, with walks, hikes, trips, tours and guides all over the place, ready for you to get up to and out on our glaciers, in any form you can imagine. In places like the Hooker Valley at Mt Cook, Fox and Franz Josef on the west coast, the valleys have great trails for those perfect glacial views and photos. For a bit more of a gut-buster, hike up to the Sealy Tarns and beyond from Mount Cook village for views of the Mueller Glacier, those photos will be keepers for sure! Again at Mount Cook, get out onto the Tasman Glacier terminal lake with a guide in a little motorboat or kayak. Or for the most awesome view of all, get up in the air by helicopter or plane around Mount Cook, Queenstown, Fiordland and the Southern Lakes, if you’re keen you can even make a snow landing or get out on a hell-hike. We reckon going on a guided tour is the best way to experience our glaciers, in fact, you can’t go onto a glacier anywhere in New Zealand any more without a guide. As well as making it super safe for you, you’ll learn a heap and also get to know a Kiwi, like our mate Charlie who leads glacier hikes on the most amazing glacier of all, the Tasman!
Where else in the world can you visit a glacier, a rainforest and the beach all in the same day?
On the west coast of the South Island, the glaciers are just a hop, skip and a jump from the ocean, literally. When we’re showing overseas friends around New Zealand’s glacier country, this is always something we love showing off. Imagine this is your day: You’re staying at Franz Josef, get up nice and early and walk through the rainforest to the terminal face, of if you’re wanting to make it really special, get up and on the glacier on a heli hike! That’s the glacier and rainforest by mid morning, then our pick for the beach is to head to Okarito, only 20 minutes away is the wildlife sanctuary and windswept west coast. You could even add a kayak on the lagoon to make it even better, a glacier, rainforest, beach and easy kayak all on the same day. In New Zealand, it’s easy and there’s even a cool little cafe in the kayak base at Okarito, grab yourself a latte and have a chat with our mates in Okarito!
New Zealand’s glaciers are not at high altitude and are really easy to get to
Our glaciers are at a really low altitude and there is great access to the foot of them, meaning almost anyone can visit a glacier as part of their travels. Fox and Franz Josef, on the West Coast of the South Island, extend down to an altitude of only 300 metres (980 feet) above sea level. Compare that to the Eiger glacier in the Swiss Alps and you’re up at over 2,000 metres (6,700 feet), the height where altitude sickness can start to bother people. Even if you take a scenic flight up into the heart of the Tasman Glacier, you’re still only around 1000m (3,000 feet) up, a safe altitude for everyone. Google a picture of the Tasman Glacier in New Zealand and the Altesch glacier in Switzerland, the photos look pretty similar, but to safely visit the Tasman Glacier you don’t need to go anywhere near the altitude which you may feel start feeling crook.
Visiting New Zealand’s Glaciers on your MoaTrek Small Group Tour
Our glaciers are New Zealand ‘must-see’ spots for sure, since we were kids we’ve been visiting on our own kiwi holidays so we had to include the best of New Zealand’s glaciers in our small group tours.
To whet your appetite, we stay at the Chateau Tongariro, which is looking right up at Mt Ruapehu and the north island glaciers. Of course, no ‘Dream Trip’ to New Zealand would be complete without a visit to Aoraki Mt Cook, where we’re surrounded by the glaciers on the faces of Mt Cook and Mt Sefton. For closer views, we’ll head out for a walk up the Hooker Valley or to Kea Point, and with plenty of time the next morning to take your pick from the best glacier tours NZ has to offer: kayaking or boating out on the terminal lake of the Tasman Glacier, or go the whole way with a scenic flight, glacier landing or heli hike!
Everyone always loves their three nights in Queenstown on tour, it’s like a holiday within a holiday! From here we can’t miss Milford Sound, travelling both on the famous Milford Road and by air, for a birds eye view of the Fiordland glaciers and fiords. You’ve got a free day in Queenstown too, so if you still haven’t gotten your glacier fix you could grab a glacial flight into Mt Aspiring National Park, the real ‘Middle Earth’ country at the head of Lake Wakatipu.
By the time we get to the West Coast we’re winding now, but we don’t want to rush through Glacier Country, so we stay two nights nestled in the rainforest at Franz Josef with a whole day to make the most one of our favourite little corners of the country. A valley walk to the face of the glacier, heli hiking or scenic flights as well as the rainforest and beach at Okarito means you’ve really gotten off the beaten, a lot of Kiwis never make it here! To top your day, take a soak in one of the private pools at New Zealand’s only glacier hot pools.
New Zealand’s glaciers are awesome, and with the combination of our can-do attitude, friendly Kiwis to show you round and super safe, easy of access, Glacier Country New Zealand will be one of your best travel memories.