Why You Should Visit Fox Glacier – South Island, NZ

Glaciers. One of mother nature’s most extreme and fascinating natural wonders. Thanks to global warming, there’s a limited possibility for most people to see them, let alone walk on them. If (like me) you were incessantly bored by them in school geography lessons, you’d be forgiven for not jumping at the chance to visit one now.

As someone who doesn’t have warm hands unless I’m on a beach holiday or washing up – both of which are quite rare –  visiting a glacier wasn’t necessarily at the top of my to-do list, but I’d now tell anyone visiting any-way near New Zealand’s Glaciers to make sure they stop off and take the trip to walk on the glacier.

It’s simply a must and here’s why:

The glacial valley is pretty stunning.

Massive transit-van sized hunks of glacial ice just sitting around? Ice cold glacial river crossable only by rubber dingy? Flat-bottomed valley created by years of ice erosion?

It makes for a pretty impressive landscape and is something you really should see with your own eyes!

fox glacier valley

View of the glacier from the valley floor, once the rain had stopped!

It’s one of the most accessible glaciers in the world.

You can take a 2 hour guided tour from the visitor’s centre (as we did) which consists of a quick scenic drive in a minibus to the car park and a 45 minute trek to the terminal face of the glacier – pretty quick and great if you’re impatient like me!

Depending on the current situation of the river, you might need to cross the water on a raft tethered by a piece of string – a little bit of added excitement!

Alternatively you could take to the skies in a helicopter to get above the glacier for an arial view. Some of the helicopter trips land on the glacier further up the valley so you don’t necessarily miss out on walking on the glacier if you do that! It is more expensive though!

fox glacier river raft

It’s literally string tied to a rock on either side the prevents you getting pulled down the valley by the ice-cold river

If you’re feeling brave, you can skydive over it.

Now there’s a better way of getting that arial view!

The skydive over Fox glacier has been voted the second most scenic skydive in the world (behind Everest!) so if you bottled it in Queenstown, you’ve got a chance to redeem yourself here!

You get to wear crampons.

That’s enough on it’s own really! There’s something pretty cool about pretending to be a real-life explorer, even if you’re only ever a 45 minute walk from a van and an hour from a hot meal. String up the crampons and crunch into the ice as you climb up onto the surface of one of the few glaciers left in the world – like the badass you always knew you were!

Fox glacier Crampons

I think I did a fine job of tying the crampons with no assistance and with cold hands. Yes. Quite proud. 

You might be able to go under the ice itself!

If you can put aside the claustrophobia and the fear of being crushed under the gargantuan weight of the glacial ice then you can pretend to be Pingu for a few minutes and peek up at the sky from your own private naturally-formed ice-room!

n.b. If you’re like me and terrified by the thought of being trapped under the ice, you could hover in the entrance to the ice-cave instead (see header image).

fox glacier ice hole

The view from inside the ice-cave. Credit to Mr Spence. 

The sheer scale

We all know glaciers are big, but nothing prepared me for the sheer scale of the ice, the valley and the cracks in the glacier’s surface! It’s bloomin’ massive.

fox glacier ice crack

A big-ass hole in the ice!

The sound.

If you listen carefully you can hear the glacier creaking under its own weight as it melts and shifts. It’s pretty eerie and makes it sound like it is somehow alive.

The rush of cold air

What you don’t get from a geography lesson is the feel of standing at the terminal moraine. When you’re there, the cold air rushes down the valley- cooled further by the surface of the ice. It’s quite strange!

The photos are cool

With New Zealand’s 4-seasons-in-a-day weather and stunning natural landscape, the photo opportunities, even for amateurs like me who only know how to point-and-shoot, are not to be missed!

fox glacier valley sunset

Epic valley views? Yes please. 


Your kids might never have this opportunity

We know, we know. The glaciers are melting, global warming, etc etc.

It sounds like a rant, but the time to experience the glaciers is NOW! At this rate, it’s possible (according yo our guide) that by the end of this century the Fox glacier will have receded fully, so there really is a time limit on being able to enjoy it!

That’s a wrap.

So get yourself down to the glaciers edge. You won’t regret it!

glacier in ice


 P.S. See more South Island NZ destinations here!





3 Nights in Queenstown, New Zealand


Arriving in Queenstown is pretty straightforward, but we were very nearly diverted to Christchurch due to bad weather. There were really bad crosswinds and if I hadn’t been so jet-lagged I would have been terrified when we were approaching the runway of the tiny Queenstown airport whilst facing the nearby mountains. Although this town had been labelled the adrenaline capital of the world, I wasn’t expecting the excitement to begin before we even touched down. After that, they closed the airport and no further planes were allowed to take off or land!

Queenstown airport is just a 10 minute taxi ride to the town centre, so once you’ve wandered through the airport (which is tiny) it won’t be long until you’re at your hotel!

We didn’t do as much as we should have whilst we herein Queenstown, but we’re some of the highlights!



I had only been married for a week and I was about to chuck myself out of a place. Queue marriage-related jokes.

Despite watching the experienced staff pack both my main parachute and a reserve chute, I was exceptionally nervous – the kind of nervous that makes tears form in your eyes whilst you grin like the Cheshire Cat and your legs twitch uncontrollably. Not the best look.

I don’t remember the walk to the plane, nor the ascent to way-beyond the clouds. In the blink of a watery eye, I was strapped tightly to the front of a man who – until 15 minutes ago – I had never met, then suddenly the whole left side of the small propeller-plane was pushed to one side and my new acquaintance and I shuffled awkwardly to the edge of the fuselage.

I peeled my eyes open in an effort to ensure I didn’t miss any detail of New Zealand’s legendary landscape whilst repeatedly swallowing the ball of terror forcing its way up from the pit of my stomach.

The weight of the bloke strapped to my back forced my body to accelerate much faster than my gut was prepared for. The view was ridiculous and the 60 second 200kph free-fall was such a buzz! The parachute part was much more gentle and a massive relief. My landing lacked finesse and was slightly un-dignified but I was just glad I’d made it back in one piece!

I did my skydive with the uber-popular “N-zone” and honestly couldn’t recommend the experience more!

Queenstown Skydive

Just casually dropping out of the sky!

Jet Boat Ride

For a relatively small fee, you can hop into a super-fast jet boat and be thrown about to within an inch of your life, all for fun! The trip takes you around the lake and up the rivers (through some ridiculously shallow water) and a few rapids. It’s great fun but be prepared to get wet and don’t forget your sunglasses (for the brightness and to protect from getting water in your eyes)!

We went on the KJet – a nice feature of the boat was that it had heated hand rails, which for someone like me who always has cold hands, is a huge blessing!

Kjet queenstown

Clearly I didn’t take this photo.



Queenstown’s legendary burger joint is known to have queues all the way around the block at peak times. Make sure you get yourself down there at some point to sample their cracking nosh. Don’t expect to get a seat unless you’re willing to eat at an unusual time. Instead, grab the burger to go and sit on the wall on the  water’s edge. Make sure you put your rubbish in the bin- I accidentally lost my burger wrapper and felt very guilty as it was the only piece of litter I saw in New Zealand!

Fergburger queenstown

Enjoying the first bit of my massive burger


Hiking Trails

There are loads of hiking trails starting in Queenstown – we decided to try and run one of them, but the uphill terrain got the better of us. We ran in and around town a few times, and round the outskirts of the lake instead, since we were clearly not fit enough to tackle the hills!

Queenstown Remarkables

The view from one of many the hiking trails beginning in Queenstown


The fillet steak at Lone Star was so good it deserves a mention. It’s in my top 5 steaks in the world, which is currently topped by a still –on-the-bone caveman-worthy whopper steak that we stumbled across whilst we were stranded in Death Valley by the flash floods.

Lone star Steak queenstown

Cracking fillet steak.

Booking Activities

A helpful local couple pointed us in the direction of and we used it to book the KJet and also to look for activities further along our route. Definitely worth a look as there were some bargains on there!

What did we miss?

We were so tired when we arrived from Hong Kong that we spent a lot of time chilling out in Queenstown and we also suffered as a consequence of eating street food from the markets in Hong Kong before we flew to NZ.

Given this was our first major trip, we were also guilty of not really planning as well as we could have done! If we went back again, which I’m sure we will do, here’s what I’d have on my list:

  1. The canyon swing – a terrifying swing across a canyon, as it says in the title really.
  2. A bungee jump. Now I’ve done the skydive, I would like to try a bungee! I would only really feel confident trying it somewhere like NZ, where safety standards are high!
  3. Kayaking on the lake
  4. Snowboarding on the Remarkables. I admit I didn’t even know the remarkable were a thing until I saw them. Simply beautiful.

Would I go back?

I would go back tomorrow! Queenstown is without a doubt one of my favourite places in the world!

The 5 Week Wanderer


Planning a trip to Queenstown?

Check out my holiday planning page for tips on cramming in as much action as possible!