Fox Glacier lies on the West Coast of the South Island. It is one of the most impressive scenic attractions in New Zealand. It is known for it’s huge virgin forrests, beautiful expansive lakes, rugged sea coast, ice glaciers tumbling down steep valleys to almost sea level and unspoilt beauty. The areas forests are encouraged by the extremely high rainfall with some areas exceeding 2600mm annually. Thankfully though these rains come in short periods and the Coast is also known for it’s blue sky crystal clear days.
Because of it’s isolation it was one of the last areas of New Zealand to become inhabited by settlers.
In 1846 three adventurers Thomas Brunner, Charles Heaphy and William Fox , along with their Maori Guide successfully ventured from Nelson into the interior of the West Coast. One of these journeys was an incredible 560 day trip by foot.
It took the discovery of gold in the 1860’s to bring the Coast alive, and by 1865 an estimated 10,000 miners were working the rivers and beaches in their search of wealth.
Fox Glacier was one such town that grew from this influx of miners and flourished with the expansion of local economy. Coal, timber and farming slowly replaced the gold mining and this has since been overtaken with tourism.
It is it’s early isolation and determination to survive that has made the West Coast and it’s “Coasters” one of New Zealand’s most fascinating communities. It’s people are used to physical hard work and enjoy a real friendship and unity.
Fox Glacier is the gateway to the areas attractions and is a relaxing township unencumbered with big city philosophies.
These attractions include
Lake Paringa which is very popular for fishing with anglers enticed by trout and landlocked salmon.
Lake Mathesons claim to fame is it’s incredible reflections and it’s mirror image of Mt Tasman and surrounding peaks. Just 5 minutes from Fox township is an extremely pleasant walk to the lake edge.
Views of Mt Cook (3764m) and Mt Tasman (3498m) , New Zealand’s two highest peaks.
Numerous bush walks through the areas dense beech/podacarp rainforest. New Zealand’s tallest tree the white pine and the giant Rimu tree is common here. Totara, Rata, Lancewoods and Fuchsia entwined with moss covered vines and epiphytes are easily identifiable.
Glow Worms are located in the township itself through a leafy forrested grotto. See these glow worms at night for a mystical experience.
View the mighty Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers which are the regions two largest glaciers with lengths of 13 km and 11 km respectfully. The annual snow fall in these valleys can be over 60 metres. This tremendous weight of granulated snow compacts to solid ice, generating enough energy to move the glacier slowly seaward, a true phenomena of nature. What is so incredible about these glaciers is that they descend into the forrest a mere 12 km from the ocean.
The glaciers can be viewed by guided walks, helicopter flights or simply by taking one of the short walking tracks to the base.
Adventure sports including kayaking, parachuting, mountain biking, ice climbing, helicopter flights, heli skiing.
Hunting the area is known for it’s sure footed Himilayan Thar and also the Chamois which came originally from Austria.
Fishing crystal clear lakes and rivers can be accessed either by oneself or by guide.
The Fox Glacier township is well serviced by bar and restaurants, full petrol and workshop facilities, supermarket and chemist supplies.