Top 5 Glacier Tours and Walks in New Zealand

Sunday, August 7, 2022

New Zealand’s spectacular glaciers are must-see sights during your road trip. To help you choose which glaciers to visit, we’ve highlighted our top 5 glacier tours and walks. With over 3,000 glaciers scattered across the Main Divide of the Southern Alps in the South Island, these natural wonders are easily accessible and located in some of the country’s most striking landscapes.

Fox Glacier

Man climbing on a glacier

One of the most well-known glaciers in New Zealand is Fox Glacier. The glacier and village are named after Sir William Fox, New Zealand’s Prime Minister from 1690 to 1872. 

There is a short self-guided walk to the glacier's terminal face. It can take between 30 minutes to an hour one way. Be aware the terrain is rocky to the base of the glacier. There is an option to book a guided walk with Fox Glacier Guiding. If you want to experience Fox Glacier up close, you can also book a Heli-hike or ice-climbing tour with Fox Glacier Guiding.

Hooker Glacier

Mt Cook walk hanging bridge

Hooker Glacier is one of the many glaciers close to Aoraki/Mt Cook.  There is a stunning walking track called the Hooker Valley Track that takes you to the edge of Hooker Lake, where you will see icebergs that were set adrift from Hooker Glacier. This 11km return walk can take up to 3 hours to complete. You will be in awe of the magnificent surroundings on this walk. If you don’t feel like walking, book a scenic flight with Mt Cook Ski Planes & Helicopters, and enjoy the amazing views from above.

Rob Roy Glacier

Glacier edge

Rob Roy Glacier is a small hanging glacier located in the Southern Alps in Mount Aspiring National Park. There is an easy 10km return track that leads you through a dramatic alpine landscape that includes waterfalls and sheer rock cliffs to the viewing point of the glacier. This is an enjoyable and beautiful walk, but it is recommended to check the Department of Conservation website for any track alerts if you decide to do this track during wintertime.

Franz Josef

Franz Josef Glacier is situated in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park. Its location is in a World Heritage area, and it is named after an Austrian Emperor. Franz Josef Glacier is a 30-minute drive from Fox Glacier, we highly recommend visiting both while you are exploring the West Coast. The only way to experience the Franz Josef Glacier is to book a scenic flight or a Heli-hike. You can book a Heli-hike with Franz Josef Glacier Guides which is a combination of a helicopter ride and a 2-and-a-half-hour hike through glacier features. Or book a scenic flight with snow landing with Glacier Helicopters. Either option will make for an unforgettable experience.

Tasman Glacier

Glacier piece floating on water

The Tasman Glacier is the largest in New Zealand, it is 23km long, 4 kilometres wide, and 600 metres (2,000 ft) thick and lies entirely within the borders of Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park. To view the glacier there is a 40-minute return walk in Mt Cook National Park. The track leads you to a viewing point where you can enjoy magnificent views of the lower Haupapa/Tasman Glacier and lake, icebergs, and the mountains at the head of the valley. Book a Heli-hike experience with The Helicopter Line to get closer to the glacier. Or for more experienced hikers there is an option to take on the Ball Pass Crossing. This is a demanding 2 - 3-day alpine route that provides spectacular views of Aoraki/Mt Cook, Mt Sefton, the Copland Pass, and both the Hooker and Tasman Glaciers.

Visiting New Zealand's glaciers is undoubtedly a must-do while traveling around NZ. Our guide has highlighted the top 5 to help you make the most of your trip, along with recommendations for self-guided walks, guided walks, Heli-hikes, or scenic helicopter tours to take your tour to the next level!

Book your rental with Mode and start exploring these natural wonders.

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