Fotoeins Fotografie

photography as worlds between words
Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

New Zealand: forest walk to Fox Glacier

With coach services, I’ve been making my way down the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island. I spend a couple of days around Franz Josef town, and I describe the walk from town to the Franz Josef Glacier.

Will a visit to the Fox Glacier be as memorable? To find out, I head south on Highway 6 (Haast Highway) to Fox Glacier town (formerly Weheka), some 20 kilometres from Franz Josef town.

Both Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers are unusual in the respect that these are two glaciers which reach temperate forested areas. In many ways, this second act at Fox Glacier is a similar repeat of the day at the Franz Josef Glacier : the distance from town to the glacier is about six kilometres, the walk goes through the middle of the rain forest, the path straddles the glacier’s meltwater and headwaters of the Fox river, and there’s a spectacular view at the glacier.

According to recent measurements, the accumulated precipitation and subsequent ice flow rate at the upper part of the glacier are 16 metres (over 50 feet) per year and about 4 metres (over 13 feet) per day, respectively. Towards the lower part or terminus of the glacier, the numbers are 5 metres (over 16 feet) per year and over 0.5 metre (1.5 feet) per day, respectively.

In other words, this massive icesheet is flowing at a rate of over 2 centimetres (1 inch) per hour, and that’s just at the terminus. That blows my mind, because by geologic standards, that speed is lightning quick.

It’s no surprise the entire area with Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers is one of the most popular places to visit in the country. As it’s July and early-winter during my visit, it’s low-season where tourist numbers are concerned, and I spend the better part of time here almost entirely on my own. One can only imagine what it must have been like to have seen these glaciers in centuries past, feeling like one of the “first” people to see these rivers of ice.

Pins C and D in the map below mark the start- and endpoints, respectively, of my walk from Fox Glacier township to Fox Glacier proper.


Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Fox Glacier town, at sunrise

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Look up, waaaay up

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Lake mirror

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Turquoise

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Closest approach at terminus: 200 metres

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Te Moeka o Tuawe

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Ice river

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Terminal moraine

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Cavern at the glacier’s edge

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Upper part of Fox Glacier valley

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Upper portion of valley wall

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Southern Alps

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Stickmen in danger, 1 of 2

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Stickmen in danger, 2 of 2

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Timed runoff

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Smooth runoff

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Boulder, glacial debris

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Gouging and scraping in years past

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Dangerous slip; stickman in danger

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Time to say goodbye

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

On the way out

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Historic bridge across Fox River

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Douglas Swingbridge

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Up Fox River valley, from Douglas swingbridge

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Douglas Swingbridge

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Another walk, another hour or so to go


More information about Fox Glacier (Te Moeka o Tuawe):

•   Fox Glacier town
•   New Zealand Department of Conservation
•   Te Wahipounamu Southwest New Zealand UNESCO Heritage Area

Similar posts:

•   The slow approach to Franz Josef Glacier
•   The Grand Traverse over New Zealand’s Southern Alps
•   Sounds of a sunset on New Zealand’s South Island
•   Lake Matheson and the southern Alps at sunset

I made the photos above on 22 July 2012. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-2Da.

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