Individuals all the time ask me what my favourite place on the planet to journey to is, and I all the time give completely different solutions. I play quick and unfastened with the time period “favourite,” if I’m being trustworthy right here. I’ve a number of favorites. So might you cease asking me to decide on?
However in the case of New Zealand, the wild West Coast of the South Island will all the time have my coronary heart. Right here you have got unbelievable coastlines, large mountains, historical forests, bizarre birds, and no folks. It’s every little thing I’ve ever needed! I’m positive it’s the place I’ll find yourself dwelling at some point.
A 3-hour drive north of Wanaka will convey you to Fox Glacier, my-go to West Coast spot. Glacier County is essentially the most dynamic and spectacular stretch of the west coast. Right here you have got two of essentially the most uncommon glaciers on the planet, Fox and Franz Josef, which stretch down from the again of mighty Aoraki/Mt. Cook dinner to the temperate rainforest under. Two stunning rivers of ice, these glaciers are simply unbelievable.
House 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 a number of issues to do close by. I’m additionally good associates with many wonderful locals right here, who’ve all the time taken care of me. Even after my breakup, I got here right here for just a few weeks to recuperate. Fox heals.
From Ōkārito to Fox Glacier might be probably the greatest stretches of coast I’ve ever come throughout. It’s uncommon to see large mountains so near the ocean.
Additionally, 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, 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” means too typically. However even I, with all my bravado, have but to say “glacier” like an area, though I spend a great period of time on glaciers. I simply don’t suppose 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, be sure to 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 thrill and shock. Listed 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. Peaceable but serene, the city of Fox sits between the unbelievable Fox Glacier/Te Moeka o Tuawe and the Tasman Sea.
Right here you have got certainly one of New Zealand’s most spectacular glaciers as probably the most simply accessed glaciers on the planet, which descends 13 kilometers all the way down to 300 meters above sea stage. Way back to the 1890’s Fox Glacier has been highlighted as a significant vacationer attraction, with the primary guided glacier journeys starting in 1928.
These days, we primarily entry the glacier by helicopter (glaciers transfer loads making their entry tough). 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, and so they offer you all of the gear you want.
Simply the helicopter flight as much as the glacier is value it by itself. You then 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, after all, after I’m on New Zealand’s West Coast, the place you’ll find each in abundance.
I take a look at the photographs from Lake Matheson and am instantly transported again to this stunning place. I can odor the damp earthy air, really feel the nippiness creep by my garments, and listen to the quiet birdsong because the day begins. Completely nonetheless and peaceable, I’ve this wildly common place all to myself.
On a transparent, nonetheless day, you get uninterrupted views of Aoraki / Mt. Cook dinner, New Zealand’s tallest mountain, reflecting within the lake. To go to Fox Glacier and skip this simple stroll can be remiss.
3. Seek for the uncommon kōtuku/white heron in Ōkārito
An iconic seashore 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 principally birds, together with the uncommon kōtuku/white heron.
In case you love wildlife, it’s worthwhile to ensure to join a morning journey to the well-known lagoon with Okarito Eco Boat Excursions. 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 steady, there are actually round 100 to 120 birds left.
4. Keep on the Rainforest Motel and dine at Betsey Jane
Every thing 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 associates.
My go-to lodging is the Rainforest Motel, owned by an area household who’s great. Cozy and with every little thing 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 laborious to think about that 150 years in the past, throughout the Gold Rush, Gillespies Seashore was residence to eleven shops. These days, it’s an extended, black sand seashore residence to some seals.
Twenty kilometers west down a gravel highway 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 after I’m in Fox. Even in winter, it’s wonderful 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 direction of Lake Matheson and Gillespies Seashore, the higher views you get of the Southern Alps.
6. Preserve a watch out for kea
I’ll by no means not love the kea – New Zealand’s naughtiest hen.
Our uncommon alpine parrot, the kea often are solely discovered up within the mountains and at greater elevations. Nevertheless, Fox Glacier is among 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 harmful nature, their inhabitants is just beginning to develop again.
Normally, company on the heli-hikes will see kea flying across the glaciers, sometimes even touchdown on the ice. Stunning but cheeky, ensure 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 throughout the Westland Tai Poutini Nationwide Park. Masking 1,320 sq. kilometers, it’s certainly one of my favourite nationwide parks in New Zealand. Extra than simply massive 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 wonderful, residence to historical podocarp rainforest. You possibly 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 a great reminder of how energetic nature will be and the way little we will management it.
You can too go up on a guided e-bike and hike journey with Fox Glacier Guides to get the total 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 hen 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 Middle 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 have been discovered as soon as they’re massive and robust sufficient to defend themselves.
9. Carve your individual pounamu
Everybody I’ve met on the coast over time has been wonderful, and Jan is not any exception. I’ve recognized 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 gorgeous aotea stone, which is usually a phenomenal shade of blue. ‘
Present 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’s treasured by Māori as a result of it’s robust 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 a phenomenal option to convey again a bit 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 sort of place you’d go to? Share!
Many due to West Coast Improvement for internet hosting me in Fox Glacier. Like all the time, I’m holding it actual. All opinions are my very own, like you possibly can count on much less from me!