Glaciers and natural beauty

Glaciers National Park – New Zealand South Island
  • View across Lake Matheson View across Lake Matheson

A Quick Glance

Destination(s) Glaciers National Park – New Zealand South Island

Duration 2 days & 2 Nights

Traveller(s) Family

Trip highlight Helicopter Ride over the magnificent glaciers Franz Joseph Glacier Alpine Ice walk

Travel Advisor Tracey Williams

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Finally I had convinced Mum to take me back to "where I came from" and as a result we planned a 2 week holiday to the South Island of New Zealand, taking in some of the sights that Mum had never previously seen.  So we packed our bags and off we went to see our "homeland" in all its beauty. 

After a few days in Christchurch, we boarded the Tranz Alpine Train - one of the world's most unique train journeys. Travelling from Christchurch, up and over the Southern Alps, across farmlands of the Canterbury plains, into the mountains and following the winding Waimakariri River to Greymouth.  

We picked up our car and headed along the mountain highway, winding through the forest  and following the snow capped peaks, crossing wild icy rivers & deep but scenic gorges.  As we neared Franz Joseph Glacier, Mum was surprised at how much the glacier has receded since her last visit some 30 years past, but none the less we were still thrilled to see its beauty and the sheer size of this huge ice bed. 

Seeing the Franz Joseph Glacier glacier for the first time, I wanted to experience as much of this beautiful area as possible and the best way to view these majestic glaciers is from the air. Mum was less than thrilled to be going up in a helicopter but I was sure I would somehow convince her to join me.

Fox Glacier Fox Glacier

helicopter - Mt Cook helicopter - Mt Cook

The next morning, I waved goodbye to Mum and joined the Fox Glacier Alpine Guides Ice Walk.  The adventure started the moment I met our friendly guide who helped us kit up with crampons and hiking poles en-route to the base of Fox Glacier.  Following the busy path alongside the glacier, we finally reached a point where it was safe to step onto the ice. What a thrill - the anticipation of walking on the massive Ice knowing that underneath me, nature was creating a moving landscape that was constantly changing by the smallest of margins - as little as a few centimeters per year!!  It was truly amazing, walking over the ice, looking down into crevices and caves seeing the aqua-blue hue of the ice deep below.  It was beautiful and a fantastic experience.

Having walked over the ice, I now knew that I had to experience the helicopter over the region, and all I had to do was convince Mum!    Later that day, we took a scenic drive and a lovely walk to see Lake Matheson, where you are able to look across the tranquil waters of the lake to the Southern Alps.  Its a breathtaking view even on a cloudy day.  

That evening Mum agreed to join me on the helicopter ride, so we made our booking and I couldn't have been more delighted.  Heading out to the airstrip, Mum was a bundle of nerves, I thought she may cancel, but I assured her that all would be okay and that she could sit in the middle if that would make her feel better!   

Soon we were briefed by the pilot with the safety instructions for the flight and I knew Mum was even more nervous when the pilot informed her that she had to sit in the front next to him.  However, she slowly and tentatively climbed into her seat shaking just a little...  

Before we knew it we were high up in the sky. floating across the landscape with a stunning view below us, I could pin point where we walked across the glacier the day before, now realising the sheer size stretching for kilometers up and into the valley. Flying over the ice-fields was spectacular, and as we headed to the Alps, we were soon circling Mt Cook and Mt Tasman and could see mountain climbers ascending and they seemed so close we could shake hands with them. 

The scenery was beautiful; I could have kept flying all day - it just took my breath away.

The scenery was beautiful; I could have kept flying all day.   Soon we landed at the top of the glacier and we were able to disembark and go for a walk. I was totally astounded as not 15 mins before Mum was nervous and trembling with fear, and out she jumped from the helicopter into deep snow up to here knees and she was giggling like a 6 year old.  Before I knew it Mum took off across the glacier with the exuberance of someone much younger, giggling and smiling from ear to ear. That too was a beautiful sight to see the joy overcoming the initial fear.  

Unfortunately we had to leave the mountain top and jump back on the helicopter, this time Mum just got on board still smiling and glowing with happiness,  I guess finally seeing a part of New Zealand that she didn't think she ever would made her happy.  The flight back took us over Franz Joseph Glacier, and the views continued to be as spectacular, but to see the delight on mums face was just as beautiful and that smile continued for the rest of our journey.  Even today when someone asks where would you go in New Zealand,  my standard response is, with a huge grin, "a helicopter over the glaciers".