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- 24 Jan 2020, 3 nights
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Kiwi wilderness at its finest, Fox Glacier is set in New Zealand's southern alps. The name is used for both the town, a small settlement nestled in dense greenery, and the glacier itself, a 13km-long thick river of ice which tumbles down mountain slopes almost as far as sea level. The surrounding area is full of hiking trails where you'll trek past ice caves, waterfalls, dramatic glacier-cut gorges and clear rushing streams.
Fox Glacier hostel options include a rustic lodge just off the main highway and contemporary accommodation tucked away in lush rainforest. Beat the cold with heated rooms (extra blankets are available if you need them!) or with a plunge into a warm hot tub. You can cook your own meals in a self-catering kitchen or treat yourself at an in-house restaurant and bar. Many Fox Glacier hostels have barbecue facilities so you can make the most of good weather, as well as DVDs and board games for rainy days.
In the town centre, you'll find cosy cafés, restaurants and shops, plus the area's accommodation options. Head out of town for the glacier and natural landmarks like Chancellor Dome's rounded summit. Photogenic Lake Matheson, known for its mirror-like mountain reflections, is just under 1.5 hours' trek to the northwest. Nearby, the larger Franz Josef Glacier has more adventure sports options, including paragliding. Continuing on to the coast, the seaside village of Ōkārito has historic buildings and a lagoon with rich wildlife.
Fox Glacier has plenty to do for adventure-seekers; try ice-hiking, take a helicopter flight over the glacier or skydive for spectacular mountain views (and a rush of adrenaline). Fox Glacier is close to some of New Zealand's highest peaks (Mount Cook and Mount Tasman), and many visitors come for mountaineering. More gentle activities include a stroll along the Minnehaha Walk, where glow-worms flit under tall trees, or a trip to Gillespies Beach to watch the sun sink below the horizon.
The closest airport to Fox Glacier is Hokitika Airport. From here, you can take a direct bus to the town (around 2 hours 40 minutes' ride). You could also take a bus from Christchurch Airport (7 hours 40 minutes, changing at Kumara Junction) or from Greymouth (4 hours 20 minutes). The easiest way to explore the region once you're there is by hiring a car, but you can also get around on local buses. If you want to see the glacier, you'll need to hike or take a helicopter.