Travel diary New Zealand day 5 – Fox Glacier and glow worms

Fox Glacier -> Franz Josef

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Woke up early despite the late night hike to the magical forest of glowworms the night before. The beds in our little house turned out to be really comfortable and the air fresh, so we were all (well, almost all) ready for glacier hiking! Breakfast was not included in the hotel, so we got dressed and started looking for a breakfast place. Next to our house, several couples had camped in their tents, it didn't look quite so nice to wake up unshowered with backaches after a cold night. On the way out of the house it suddenly sounded like a screaming baby, or maybe more like a creaking door, or was it really a scream? High up in a tree behind our house sat a green Kea with its long beak. It clambered around on the branches and called out to a mate sitting a few trees away, completely uninterested in getting close enough for us to get a closer look at it. A grumpy little goya!

Hotels in Fox Glacier

Breakfast at the cafe at the adventure center together with all the tourists who were waiting for the day's first helicopter ride to Fox Glacier. Cooked a hearty portion of porridge and made good use of their free wifi to read some news and update us on what happened at home. After an egg on toast for little E and poached eggs with beans and toast for me and Anders, we packed up our things from the hotel and headed to the glacier.

Plenty of space still in the parking lot, but the cars filled up relatively quickly. The clouds lay heavy over the mountain tops and the hiking trail wound along the now almost dried up river bed. We followed the sticks that showed the trail following the river bed, everything was very well marked and there were large warning signs about how fast the water was and how fast it could rise.

Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier

The hike started out flat with high steep slopes lining the path. After a few kilometres, the path started to go uphill and the last 6-700 meters went really steep uphill with signs warning that you shouldn't stop on the road, as the risk of landslides was too great.

Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier

Once up on the safe viewing platform, you had a good view of the tip of the glacier, but you were not allowed to go further than that for safety reasons. The rocks around the glacier were filled with small waterfalls and you could really see how quickly the glacier was melting. Since the 1980s, the rate at which the glacier is melting has only increased, and today it is shrinking in size by almost a meter per day. The only safe way to get to the glacier is by helicopter, so it almost felt like the helicopters were shuttling between the village and the glacier. After resting for a while, we turned back down towards the car.

Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier

A short drive from the first car park we found the River Walk, where you can look at the glacier from a slightly different angle. After an easy walk to a viewpoint where you got a slightly better view of the glacier, we took a small detour to an older suspension bridge. This hike turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip! The hiking trail began with a flight of stairs down to the riverbed, where the trail consisted mostly of stone and driftwood. It was not difficult to understand that during certain times of the year the water actually passes this high up.

Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier

Suddenly we entered a dense jungle where the rain forest formed an enveloping tunnel, lined with ferns as tall as trees. The feeling of walking in this green and moist blanket was amazingly wonderful! Once at the suspension bridge, you could go out onto the swaying bridge and look at a raging rapids. The mountains towered on the horizon, the clouds wandered over the forest and the fairytale feeling was total. However, the way back up to the car was not as fun, but extremely many steps (uphill) and slopes. It was definitely felt in the calves!

Fox Glacier

After these two stops, the legs (and the little one) thought it was time to head for the next town and hotel. The road to Franz Josef was not long, but very winding and took more than 30 minutes to drive. As we were a little early for check-in at the Scenic hotel, we took the opportunity to have a late lunch before checking in. And hear and be amazed! In this small town we found an amazingly good Indian/Thai restaurant just a stone's throw from the hotel. Little E munched on a Chicken Korma with accompanying naan bread. Eva took a Panak Paneer and butter naan and Anders took a Butter Chicken with garlic naan. Think how good it can be with food after a little hiking! The hotel was centrally located and had fresh, nice rooms and a balcony. A real highlight! Before dinner, we took the opportunity to use the hotel's laundry while we took a tour of the village and bought some snacks and drinks at the grocery store.

Scenic Hotel Franz Josef

In the evening we ate at the Landing, which was also close to the hotel. Actually, everything is probably close to each other here in Franz Josef, it's really not a big city. But they have good local beer and local wine as well as good food! Anders took a tender lamb shank, Eva a Carnivore pizza and little E a chicken schnitzel. For dessert we squeezed an absolutely adorable Pavlova. In the country where Pavlova was invented, there are probably as many different kinds of Pavalova as there are chefs!

Pavlova in Franz Josef

We probably don't need to tell you that we slept very well after today's hike in the mountain air. Tomorrow there will be more glaciers – this time at Franz Josef!

Scenic Hotel Franz Josef


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Travel blogger, gastronaut, photographer and family adventurer with over 60 countries in his luggage. Eva loves trips that include beautiful nature, hiking boots and well-cooked food. On the travel site Rucksack she takes you to all corners of the world with the help of her inspiring pictures and texts.

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