Hiking Fox Glacier
The skies on the west coast of New Zealand were gloomy. It’d been raining on and off throughout the day. I finally made it to Fox Glacier after being cooped up on a bus all day. Never minding the threat of rain, I dropped off my gear at the Ivory Tower Lodge and laced up my boots. With plenty of daylight left to kill and a chance of my glacier trek getting canceled, I decided to go see Fox Glacier as up close and personal as I could get.
Since I didn’t have a car, I had to tack on an extra kilometer or so each way of walking from the city of Fox Glacier. The track begins just south of the Bella Vista Motel. Those with cars can drive out to the parking lot, effectively shortening the hike to 2.6 km roundtrip. It was only slightly drizzling as I ducked under the canopy of the forest to make my way to the parking lot. The trees provided a nice shelter from the precipitation until the trail hit the road. The trail up to the parking lot meanders back and forth across the road. Soon there was no sidewalk and I found myself walking on the side of the road where construction was occuring. On a rainy Monday afternoon, traffic was negligible and I felt relatively safe with the lack of barriers or indication that pedestrians were around.
There were very few cars sitting in the parking lot. It started raining cats and dogs. I set off on the track. The trail is wide and easy to follow, though it is a bit rocky. Markers and barriers lead the way so you can’t really get lost in the vast expanse of pebbles. The trail crosses over a glacial river with precarious rocks to step on. The trail is relatively flat until just before the viewpoint. From there, it gains a bit of elevation for a few hundred feet before the end of the trail.
Though stark and relatively barren, the Fox Glacier valley is incredibly beautiful with some of the bluest waters I’ve ever seen. It was raining cats and dogs during my hike, soaking through pretty much all of my gear, including my boots. By the time I reached the parking lot after finishing the trek to the viewpoint, I was pretty over the weather. I started the dreaded walk back to town, but managed to hitch a ride from some people I’d seen on the trail back to Fox Glacier.
Please keep in mind that areas near glaciers can be very hazardous due to quickly changing conditions. Rockfall, icefall, flooding, and river surging are just a few things to be wary of when hiking in the area. The trail can close at any time.