Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
132.00 m (433.07 ft)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
2.60 km (1.62 mi)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Fox Glacier is one of the most popular attractions in West Coast, New Zealand. One of the most unique as well as most accessible glaciers on Earth, the terminal face of Fox Glacier lies in a lush rainforest less than 300 meters above sea level, and only about 16 kilometers from the shores of the Tasman Sea. Because of this, mild temperatures and extremely heavy rain year-round have caused Fox Glacier to recede rapidly -- in fact, most visitors will be able to witness the glacier calving by waiting only a few minutes in typical conditions from the large viewing area. The large, steep canyon carved out by Fox Glacier is truly a truly remarkable exhibit of glacial geology; it is also a beautiful sight for the casual visitor all the same, even if Mount Cook is not visible from the trail.

As accessible as Fox Glacier is, there are some logisitical challenges visitors will need to consider because it is in a very remote part of New Zealand. The nearest towns with more than 500 people, Hokitika to the north and Wanaka to the south, are hundreds of kilometers away. Queenstown, the nearest international airport, is 330 kilometers and a windy mountain pass away from Fox Glacier. Lodging in the village of Fox Glacier or nearby Franz Josef is available, but options and amenities are limited and there is not much to do in the town besides book helicopter or aerial tours for the glaciers. The weather is predictably mild and very rainy all year. The village averages 4,700 mm (185 inches) of rain per year.

A note regarding planning: Adventures in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park are close to Fox Glacier on a straight line, but they are over 450 kilometers away by road because the Southern Alps separate the two. Be sure not to plan this adventure (or any other West Coast adventures) concurrently with those in the Mount Cook area.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Close glacier views in mild weather. Amazing geology and landscapes. Near the village of Fox Glacier.

Cons

Big crowds. Very far from major population centers.

Trailhead Elevation

820.21 ft (250.00 m)

Highest point

1,253.28 ft (382.00 m)

Features

Waterfalls
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Shelters
Geologically significant
Glacier
Near lake or river
Guided tours
Family friendly

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

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