Glacier face ice – Fox Glacier Valley Walk. © Mandy Creative Commons

Fox Glacier Te Moeka o Tūawe Valley Walk

Fox Glacier Valley Walk
View the map


Get spectacular glacier views along the track and from the viewing area. The track is sometimes closed, so check it's open before starting.

About the walk

How long will it take? This is a 2.6km one-hour return walk.

Drive south for 2km from Fox Glacier Weheka township, and turn left immediately before the Fox River bridge. 

From the car park at the end of the glacier access road, you will notice large mounds of moraine for the first 100 or so metres of the track. This moraine covers ice that was left behind when the glacier retreated in the 1960s and is known as ‘dead ice’.

You will see your first view of the glacier after about five minutes of walking. Follow the track down past the landslip zone – do not stop in this area. The track continues towards the glacier and crosses several small creeks. The walk will take you to within about 500m of the glacier terminal face.

The final section of track to the safety barriers includes a short climb up to the viewing area. Do not attempt under any circumstances to follow glacier guided groups beyond safety barriers or signs.

This is a beautiful yet volatile place – do not let the serene scene fool you.

The glacier is constantly moving. Ice and rock fall from the terminal face without warning. The weather can change at any time. Creeks may rise up to a metre in even moderate rain. Water levels rise in as little as 15 minutes. 

This track is sometimes closed due to ice collapse, flooding or rock fall. Observe all signs and stay behind barriers. 

The main hazards in the glacier valley are:

  • Icefall: Never go over the barrier and stand close to the glacier face – rocks and ice fall from the terminal face continuously – some pieces can be twice the size of a campervan! 
  • River surges: Glacial rivers can be dammed by ice falls and the dam could burst creating a huge surge of water and ice which floods the valley.
  • Rock fall: Heavy rain can destabilise steep valley walls, causing rock fall.  Do not stop in marked rock fall areas.
  • Flooding: Downpours can create flooding within minutes. Follow the marked track, obey all signs and never cross barriers.

Don't make a fatal mistake!

People have died or been seriously injured after ignoring signs and going over the barriers – you are taking a serious personal risk to get closer to the glacier. If you want to get closer to, or onto, the glacier there are experienced glacier guiding companies based in Franz Josef and Fox Glacier townships.

For more information on visiting the glaciers safely click here 

Explore more...

More stories like this

Find out more


Cape Foulwind Walkway

Explore this spectacular walkway which features a seal colony, a lighthouse and also provides panoramic views of mountains and coastline.  Read the story . . . 

Find out more


Franz Josef Glacier Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere Walk

Follow a rocky riverbed path then climb to the Franz Josef Glacier viewing area. It's a beautiful yet dangerous place that is sometimes closed, so check it's open before you start. Read the story . . . 

Find out more


Lake Matheson Walks

The unsurpassed views and mountain reflections from the forested shores of Lake Matheson make this easy walk, one of the most popular on the West Coast. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Get outdoors

Westland: land of ice dragons

Like an unfurling, white dragon, the Franz Josef Glacier flexes and curves between steep-walled valleys. Māori named it Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere – tears of the Avalanche Girl. Read the story . . . 

AA Members save on selected accommodation with
AA Traveller

AA Members
Book now
Non Members
Book now