From the car park at the end of the glacier access road, you will notice large mounds of moraine for the first 100 or so metres of the track. This moraine covers ice that was left behind when the glacier retreated in the 1960s and is known as ‘dead ice’.
You will see your first view of the glacier after about five minutes walking. Follow the track down past the landslip zone – do not stop in this area. The track continues towards the glacier and crosses several small creeks. The walk will take you to within about 500 metres of the glacier terminal face.
The final section of track to the safety barriers includes a short climb up to the viewing area. Do not attempt under any circumstances to follow glacier guided groups beyond safety barriers or signs.
This is a beautiful yet volatile place – do not let the serene scene fool you. The glacier is constantly moving. Ice and rock fall from the terminal face without warning. Creeks may rise up to a metre in even moderate rain. Water levels rise in as little as 15 minutes.
This track is sometimes closed due to ice collapse, flooding or rock fall. Observe all signs and stay behind barriers.
Drive south for 2 km from Fox Glacier Weheka township, and turn left immediately before the Fox River bridge.
Know before you go
- This track is sometimes closed due to ice collapse, flooding or landslides – check the current track conditions and weather forecasts at the local DOC office (Fox Glacier Weheka township) or the Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre and i-SITE before starting your trip.
- Always take warm and waterproof clothing as the weather can change rapidly.
- Carry drinking water, insect repellent and sun protection at all times.
The Fox Glacier valley is a hazardous environment:
- The access road and tracks can be closed due to rock falls or flooded rivers, and glacier viewpoints may be hundreds of metres from the face of the glacier.
- The weather can change at any time.
- Walking to the glacier is over rough and uneven ground and can involve crossing streams.
- Be prepared to turn back if conditions are not favourable or you are outside your comfort zone.
The main hazards in the glacier valley are:
- Icefall: Never go over the barrier and stand close to the glacier face – rocks and ice fall from the terminal face continuously – some pieces can be twice the size of a campervan!
- River surges: Glacial rivers can be dammed by ice falls and the dam could burst creating a huge surge of water and ice which floods the valley.
- Rock fall: Heavy rain can destabilise steep valley walls, causing rock fall. Do not stop in marked rock fall areas.
- Flooding: Downpours can create flooding within minutes. Follow the marked track, obey all signs and never cross barriers.
Don't make a fatal mistake! People have died or been seriously injured after ignoring signs and going over the barriers – you are taking a serious personal risk to get closer to the glacier. If you want to get closer to, or onto, the glacier there are experienced glacier guiding companies based in Franz Josef and Fox Glacier townships.
Make sure you view full information about visiting the Fox Glacier safely.
View daily glacier access update on Glacier Country website.