Glacier Walks, Ice Climbing and Heli Walk In New Zealand 

Glacier Walks, Ice Climbing & Heli Walk Guide for your Next New Zealand Trip

Picture this. You, being surrounded by walls of white ice, glaringly bright pathways, and splashes of blue water and sky. Stunning right? Glacier walks, considered hiking’s colder cousin, are one of the best ways to explore a side of nature that you don’t commonly come across. The thrill of completing these walks is unparalleled as it requires determination, physical strength, and an undying thirst for adventure.

Though you may not think it, New Zealand is one of the best places in the world to enjoy glacier walks, ice climbing, and heli walks. With each glacier offering unique views and a different experience altogether, it can certainly be a challenge to pick one over the other. 

Let’s take a look at the top spots in New Zealand for glacier walks and what they bring to the table:


Franz Josef Glacier:

The Franz Josef Glacier is one of the most popular spots for glacier walks as it moves at an astounding speed of 4 meters a day. This means that most of the caves, pathways, tunnels, crevasses, and seracs look completely different in as little as two days. The glacier’s continual evolution is what attracts tourists again and again, as no two walks on this spot are ever the same. 

Address: Westland Tai Poutini National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Tel: +64 3 752 0763

Hours: There are no specific hours for visiting the glacier

Fox Glacier:

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier, located close to a town with the same name, is another popular tourist hub in New Zealand when it comes to thrilling glacier walks and ice climbing. The glacier sprawls across 13 kilometers and plummets down a distance of 2,600 from the magnificent Southern Alps. As the glacier receives a minimum of 30 meters of snowfall annually, you’ll find compacted snow at its very top, with blue ice spread across the rest of its body. Like the Franz Josef Glacier, this is a fast-moving glacier and offers different views, caves, and crevasses each time you visit. 

Address:  Westland Tai Poutini National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Tel: +64 3 752 0763

Hours: There are no specific hours for visiting the glacier

Tasman Glacier:

Tasman Glacier

Spread across a whopping 27 kms, the Tasman Glacier is the longest glacier you’ll find in New Zealand. Of the many tracks that are available to travellers, the Blue Lake track is the most famous as it takes you to a magnificent terminal lake called the Blue Lake. If you’re feeling brave enough, you can take a dip in this lake during the summer season. This, of course, won’t be possible in the winter as the lake tends to freeze over. The Ball Shelter Track is another popular one, taking tourists high enough to enjoy a stunning view of the glacier’s body and lakes. 

Address: Aoraki, Mount Cook National Park, South Island, New Zealand

Tel: +64 3 435 1186

Hours: There are no specific hours for visiting the glacier


Hooker Glacier:

Though not as expansive as its other counterparts, the Hooker Glacier is another well-known spot for mildly challenging walks. What makes this 11 km long glacier so popular is the fact that the track is perfect for beginners, but not so smooth that it becomes boring. Starting with an easy path, the track quickly becomes rockier as you cross the first bridge. As you reach the second swing bridge, you get to see the glacier in all its glory. There are three huts scattered along the glacier that mark your progress: Hooker Hut, Gardiner Hut and the Empress Hut. Though a relatively shorter path when compared with the other glaciers, this one is incredibly enjoyable. 

Address: Aoraki, Mount Cook National Park, South Island, New Zealand

Tel: +6434351186

Hours: There are no specific hours for visiting the glacier

Mueller Glacier:

If you’re looking for an advanced tramping track but aren’t too keen on trudging through ice and snow, the Mueller Hut track is just the ideal one for you. Located on the Seally range, this route takes you 11 kms up and down the same path on a mostly alpine track. You will get to climb an elevation of 1000 meters on what is vastly a steep path that requires a fair amount of technical climbing knowledge. At the top of the path, you’ll find the Mueller Hut, which has 28 bunk beds, provisions for cooking, mattresses, toilets, lighting and water. Staying here overnight is a wonderful experience that makes you feel like a true adventurist! Just imagine walking up to views of a beautiful glacier. 

Do keep in mind that the best time to visit this is between December and April. After this, the path is entirely covered with snow and is quite hard to climb. 

Address: Aoraki, Mount Cook National Park, South Island, New Zealand

Tel: +64 3 435 1186

Hours: There are no specific hours for visiting the glacier

Murchison Glacier:

Located east of the huge Tasman Glacier, the Murchison Glacier boasts of being the second largest one in New Zealand. In order to get here, you can take a boat trip from the Tasman Glacier and then enjoy a wonderfully scenic experience exploring ice caves, frozen paths, and various other nooks and crannies. One of the things that sets the Murchison Glacier apart from others is the fact that this is a great place to ski. Most of the tours that set off from this glacier take tourists to spots that are perfect for beginners and experts alike. Many travellers also choose to camp on the glacier itself and spend a night on the cold, lonely campsite. Murchison hut, which is a lodge nearby, is a great place to get your bearings before another day of skiing and walking. 

Address: Aoraki, Mount Cook National Park, South Island, New Zealand

Tel: +64 3 435 1186

Hours: There are no specific hours for visiting the glacier


Volta Glacier:

Finally, when in New Zealand, you must also stop by the iconic Volta glacier, another prime spot for skiing and exciting walks. If you want to get here via helicopter, you must head to the Matukituki Valley and get the chopper from there. The landing site is right above the Bevan Col, and you must walk to the Todd Collins lodge (on the Bonar Glacier) from there. You can then spend the next day walking down the Iso Glacier and Therma Glacier to reach Volta. Once you reach, you can set up camp and ski or explore the area near you. A trip like this will surely make you feel like a mountaineer! 

Address: Mount Aspiring National Park, Southern Alps, South Island, New Zealand

Tel: +64 3-443 7660

Hours: There are no specific hours for visiting the glacier

With so many exciting trails just waiting to be explored, it’s no wonder that thousands of travellers visit New Zealand to indulge in guided walks and tours of these glaciers. The stunning beauty and the sheer novelty of walking on the glaciers is more than enough to inspire even the most lethargic people to take long walks. 

When it comes to planning your trip, don’t move at a glacial pace! Check out our travel packages and book your tickets today!

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