Folks all the time ask me what my favourite place on the planet to journey to is, and I all the time give totally different solutions. I play quick and free with the time period “favourite,” if I’m being sincere right here. I’ve lots of favorites. So may you cease asking me to decide on?
However with regards to New Zealand, the wild West Coast of the South Island will all the time have my coronary heart. Right here you may have unbelievable coastlines, big mountains, historical forests, bizarre birds, and no folks. It’s every part I’ve ever wished! I’m positive it’s the place I’ll find yourself dwelling at some point.
A 3-hour drive north of Wanaka will carry you to Fox Glacier, my-go to West Coast spot. Glacier County is probably the most dynamic and spectacular stretch of the west coast. Right here you may have two of probably the most uncommon glaciers on the planet, Fox and Franz Josef, which stretch down from the again of mighty Aoraki/Mt. Prepare dinner to the temperate rainforest under. Two stunning rivers of ice, these glaciers are simply unbelievable.
Residence to the bigger city of Franz Josef and the smaller city of Fox, I all the time keep in Fox as a result of it has a extra relaxed, native really feel, with lots of issues to do close by. I’m additionally good mates with many superb locals right here, who’ve all the time sorted me. Even after my breakup, I got here right here for just a few weeks to get better. Fox heals.
From Ōkārito to Fox Glacier might be among the finest stretches of coast I’ve ever come throughout. It’s uncommon to see big mountains so near the ocean.
Additionally, I don’t find out 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, effectively, with much more class too.
Positive, I may need gone full native with my flippant use of phrases like “bin” and “garbage.” Now I bandy about phrases like “storage” and “Nissan” like a real South Islander, and I say “wee” approach too typically. However even I, with all my bravado, have but to say “glacier” like an area, regardless that I spend a very good period of time on glaciers. I simply don’t assume I can pull it off.
I’m so proud that you just’ve adopted this unbelievable stream-of-consciousness caption. Thanks. And if you end up in New Zealand, ensure you go to certainly one of 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 executed being posh now); somebody cease me.
To go to Fox Glacier whereas in your subsequent New Zealand journey is assured to please and shock. Listed below 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. Peaceable but serene, the city of Fox sits between the unbelievable Fox Glacier/Te Moeka o Tuawe and the Tasman Sea.
Right here you may have certainly one of New Zealand’s most spectacular glaciers as one of the vital simply accessed glaciers on the planet, which descends 13 kilometers right down to 300 meters above sea degree. Way back to the 1890’s Fox Glacier has been highlighted as a serious vacationer attraction, with the primary guided glacier journeys starting in 1928.
These days, we primarily entry the glacier by helicopter (glaciers transfer so much making their entry difficult). Fox Glacier Guides is among the OG tourism companies on the South Island; their iconic heli-hikes on Fox Glacier are certainly one of my must-dos on any journey to New Zealand. No expertise is required, they usually offer you all of the gear you want.
Simply the helicopter flight as much as the glacier is price it by itself. Then you definately spend just a few hours exploring the ice with a information, testing caves, views, tunnels, and crevasses. It’s so unbelievable; the place else on the planet are you able to do that? Go to Fox Glacier for an unforgettable journey.
2. Go to Lake Matheson at dawn
Stillness and serenity are two issues I’m all the time trying to find in our busy world, but so typically past my attain. Besides, in fact, once I’m on New Zealand’s West Coast, the place you could find each in abundance.
I have a look at the images from Lake Matheson and am instantly transported again to this stunning place. I can odor the damp earthy air, really feel the chilliness creep by means of my garments, and listen to the quiet birdsong because the day begins. Completely nonetheless and peaceable, I’ve this wildly standard place all to myself.
On a transparent, nonetheless day, you get uninterrupted views of Aoraki / Mt. Prepare dinner, New Zealand’s tallest mountain, reflecting within the lake. To go to Fox Glacier and skip this simple stroll could be remiss.
3. Seek 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 residence to largely birds, together with the uncommon kōtuku/white heron.
In case you love wildlife, you must be certain that to enroll in a morning journey to the well-known lagoon with Okarito Eco Boat Tours. It’s the easiest way to expertise the wetlands and their unbelievable nature. Over 3,000 hectares, Ōkārito is among the finest wetlands you possibly can go to in New Zealand. You see a lot on the water, from birds that dwell 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. Thought-about considerably secure, there at the moment are round 100 to 120 birds left.
4. Keep on the Rainforest Motel and dine at Betsey Jane
All the pieces about Fox Glacier makes you are 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 every part you want, you possibly can stroll in all places from right here. Betsey Jane is a brand new restaurant close by the place I all the time find yourself for dinner.
5. Watch the sundown on Gillespies Seashore
It’s exhausting to think about that 150 years in the past, through the Gold Rush, Gillespies Seashore was residence to eleven shops. These days, it’s a protracted, black sand seaside residence to some seals.
Twenty kilometers west down a gravel street leads you to Gillespies Seashore. The proper place to look at the sundown, it’s certainly one of my fave spots to go for a wander once I’m in Fox. Even in winter, it’s superb to go to Fox Glacier
Whilst you can’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 Seashore, the higher views you get of the Southern Alps.
6. Maintain 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 normally are solely discovered up within the mountains and at increased elevations. Nonetheless, Fox Glacier is among the solely cities the place kea descend to. Chaos normally 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 harmful nature, their inhabitants is just beginning to develop again.
Normally, friends on the heli-hikes will see kea flying across the glaciers, sometimes even touchdown on the ice. Stunning but cheeky, be certain that your backpacks are zipped, and your issues are hidden away when kea are about. I’ve seen them throw tramping boots off a cliff. Don’t feed them.
7. Discover the traditional rainforest round Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier sits inside the Westland Tai Poutini Nationwide Park. Protecting 1,320 sq. kilometers, it’s certainly one of my favourite nationwide parks in New Zealand. Extra than simply huge 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 are feeling such as you stepped proper into Jurassic Park.
The valley round Fox Glacier is superb, residence to historical podocarp rainforest. You may stroll up the south side 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 facet street, and stroll to the glacier face. It’s a very good reminder of how energetic nature may be and the way little we will management it.
You can too go up on a guided e-bike and hike trip with Fox Glacier Guides to get the complete scoop on the world, testing secret spots.
8. Go to the kiwi sanctuary in Franz Josef
The rowi and the Haast tokoeka are the 2 most endangered kiwi on the planet; with lower than 600 of every chicken remaining, you possibly can 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 certainly one of their backstage excursions. The most important kiwi hatching facility on the South Island, they work on conservation round these uncommon kiwi.
Within the wild, due to predation, these kiwi are extremely susceptible, with 9 out of 10 chicks not surviving. Conservation staff take away the kiwi eggs from the wild and produce them again to the middle. Right 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 huge and robust sufficient to defend themselves.
9. Carve your individual pounamu
Everybody 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 possibly can carve your individual pounamu/greenstone. I’ve made many pounamu necklaces right here with Jan over time, most of which I’ve gifted to family members. Whereas most individuals select to carve the enduring inexperienced pounamu, I have a tendency to decide on the beautiful aotea stone, which is commonly an attractive shade of blue. ‘
Present in colours starting from cloudy mild inexperienced to deep emerald with totally different markings, pounamu was thought-about so vital by Māori that the South Island was named after it, Te-Wai-Pounamu which means “the waters of greenstone.” It’s 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 commonly everybody’s favourite expertise. It’s an attractive approach to carry again a chunk of New Zealand residence with you.
It’s by no means been a greater time to go to Fox Glacier. Have you ever been right here earlier than? Is that this the type of place you’d go to? Share!
Many due to West Coast Growth for internet hosting me in Fox Glacier. Like all the time, I’m maintaining it actual. All opinions are my very own, like you could possibly anticipate much less from me!