Fox Glacier Te Moeka o Tuawe Valley Walk

Track category

Short walk

Time:  

1 hr return

Distance:  

2.6 km return

Description

This track is sometimes closed due to ice collapse, flooding or rock fall. Please observe all signs and stay behind barriers.

Fox Glacier.
Visitors at Fox Glacier Te Moeka o Tuawe

From the car park at the end of the glacier access road, you will notice large mounds of moraine. This moraine covers huge chunks of ice that were left behind when the glacier retreated in the 1960s and is known as ‘dead ice’.

After your first glimpse of the glacier from the car park the views continue to improve as you walk further up the valley. 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.

Getting there

Drive south for two kilometres from Fox Glacier Weheka township, and turn left immediately before the Fox River bridge. 

Places to stay

There are a number of accommodation options in Fox Glacier Weheka.

Plan and prepare

  • 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.

Hazards

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.

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 glaciers safely.

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Safety

Follow the Outdoor Safety Code:
1. Plan your trip
2. Tell someone
3. Be aware of the weather
4. Know your limits
5. Take sufficient supplies

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Contacts

Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:      +64 3 752 0796
Address:   13 State Highway 6
Franz Josef Glacier 7856
Email:   westlandnpvc@doc.govt.nz
Full office details
Franz Josef Glacier Base
Phone:      +64 3 752 0796
Email:   westlandnpvc@doc.govt.nz
Full office details

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