The Southland and it’s Glaciers

Ok… I know I said we had to get up early but the wine hangover (which Keates cleverly dubbed the Wangover), kept us in bed until about 7.30… woops

We rallied the Dutch and after accidentally stealing breakfast by sitting down with the Kiwi-Experience bus group, we made a swift getaway on course to Fox Glacier.

Less popular than Franz Josef but equally as impressive (having been to both I can make this allegation), Fox is the ideal place for anti-tourist tourists. Without seeing too many people we walked up the path set out by the rangers…and headed to the lookout over the glacier.

As adventurous young humans we may or may not have strayed from the path… not a great idea… a Department of Conservation ranger pulled us up straight away, letting us know that the area outside the path boundaries was probably the most dangerous place in New Zealand… Jorn found this very amusing and persisted in cracking jokes about it for the rest of the day.

Fox Glacier- Terminal Face
Fox Glacier- Terminal Face
The Valley where the glacier used to lay
The Valley where the glacier used to lay
Keates filling up our water bottles with Glacier water
Keates filling up our water bottles with Glacier water

Fox comes in at 13km long and is classed as the longest of the West Coast glaciers and falls about 2.6 km from the base of the Southern Alps to the West Coast. The reason Fox ad Franz Josef are so well known is because they uniquely terminate in temperate rainforest about 300m above sea level. This makes them easily accessible and hence why they are a huge tourist attraction.

Fox glacier moves extremely fast because of the huge snow depositry area at the top… known as a neve (HA!)… That gets spelt with a few accents on the e’s but I can’t work out how to put them in… anyway… back to the neve. It is 36 square kilometres in area… making it larger than the city of Christchurch (thankyou google).

After our death-defying experience with the glacier walk, we pressed on, determined to check out this elusive Copland Track.

Next to the Abel Tasman coastal track, this is probably the best hike I have done. With a challenging trail that works its way through dense forest and up beside the Karangarua River, we came across both frost covered fields and rainforest streams, closed in by snow-capped mountains (see, I love these mountains).

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With multiple river crossings and hectic mud, this is a trail which hiking boots and pants are necessary. The worst part… we only had 3 hours to do it! This seems to be a theme on my trip, not enough time to complete these awesome walks.

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The track can take two or more days and if I had my time over I would come prepared to stay in the huts provided and do the entire hike to Mt Cook. Finally returning from our walk, we set out over Haast Pass and into Wanaka… on the way stopping at a The South Westland Salmon Farm and consuming bulk smoked salmon. I have never eaten such delicious smoked salmon! Fresh from the farm

Smoked salmon from the South Westland Salmon Farm
Smoked salmon from the South Westland Salmon Farm
View from the farm cafe
View from the farm cafe


In Wanaka we booked into a Base backpackers and cooked our food in here with the Dutch… all of us a little too exhausted to party again. This is where we would leave our new friends, they were staying in Wanaka for the day and we were heading into Milford Sound.

The weather, for every part of the trip so far has been incredible and we believe it is because we never checked the weather forecast before we went anywhere… we told the Dutch this and… low and behold, they checked the weather forecast… apparently it will be quite rainy in Milford… thanks Netherlands.

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