2008 01 17 – Big Trip – Day 261 – New Zealand – Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier Holiday Park, Fox Glacier, South Island, New Zealand 7026km

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Terminal Face of Fox Glacier

We had a long rainy drive today. It started raining last night and didn’t stop all day log. We left Wanaka in the morning and drove north to Haast Pass and then along the west coast. Although the weather was crappy, the views were stunning. Everywhere you looked waterfalls were gushing onto the road. We never saw so much water.

When we reached Glacier Country in the afternoon the rain seemed to stop. The Fox Glacier is one of the most accessible in the world. Although it originates in the Mount Cook area, it almost reaches the sea, at a relatively low altitude. From the main highway we drove 4km along a dirt road, to a makeshift parking lot and we could see it.

We packed the kids and Paola up in multi layers of warm clothing, including hats and mittens purchased in Auckland 2 months ago, and started marching on a gravel path towards the glacier. Lucky for us it wasn’t that cold, and we began shedding some layers as we got warmed up from the walk. Every once in a while a cold wind blew from the glacier to remind us of the millions of tons of ice that lay ahead.

Towards the last few 100 meters we had to abandon the stroller. The path was obliterated by a heavy waterflow that left rock debris in its way. We slowly navigated the kids around and continued all 5 by foot. There was also a little stream to cross. Finally we got to the glacier, almost. For our safety, there was a makeshift fence keeping us 80m away from the glacier’s terminal face. Since the glacier moves down the valley at a rate of a few meters a day, it is very unstable and huge chunks of ice can come down any minute.

We were very impressed by the sheer size and immensity of the ice. It looked like it was at least 100m thick. Many parts were brown, mixed in with dirt, but the top part was white and shiny, sculpted into many beautiful forms and shapes. On top of it all the sun shone for a brief moment while we were admiring the beautiful icescape.

We headed back to the carpark as the weather once again took a turn for the worse. On the way a nice kiwi family helped us traverse the rock fall with the kids. At the carpark we enjoyed seeing kea birds dancing on top of our RV, hoping the inquisitive fellows won’t chew or rip anything off.

We reached the campground at 8pm, with a slight drizzle, and prepared our dinner of chicken soup and couscous inside the RV to warm it up. By the time the kids were asleep it was almost 11pm.

Good night,


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