Fox glacier is 13 km in length and Franz Josef Glacier is approximately 10 km long. Both Glaciers descend the steep mountain sides to New Zealand's west coast. In the Nevé (a huge basin high up in the mountains) the snow collects. The glaciers form from the weighty layers of snow compacting into hard blue ice. The pressure of snow above and gravitational pull force the ice down the valley to within 200 metres above sea level and within a few kilometres of the main road.
Visiting the Glaciers should be the first activity on your list. A relatively easy walk will get you up close to the terminal face of both Glaciers. For the more adventurous, guided hiking / walking on the Glaciers is well worth considering. Local guide will guide you onto the ice via a secret track through bush regenerating from previous glacial advances & share with you their knowledge of the geology of the area, whilst you walk on the glacier viewing its stunning ice features. Guide will take you deep in the heart of the glacier where you can squeeze through tight blue crevasses, slide through ice caves or even ‘franz shuffle’ down near vertical walls of ice.
The Tranz Alpine Train
The Tranz Alpine scenic train journey travels between Christchurch and Greymouth, from one coast of New Zealand to the other. From your carriage you’ll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Your train then climbs into the Southern Alps before descending through lush beech rain forest to the West Coast town of Greymouth – a great base for visits to Punakaiki and the always popular glaciers.