Climbing Fox Glacier in New Zealand

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC have just returned home after a week-long trip to New Zealand’s South Island. It was a trip of adventure, beauty and magnificence. For this worm, the high point was a trip up Fox Glacier on the island’s west coast.

The TC and her clan did the “Fox Trot”, a half-day walk up to and over the glacier. This worm went along for the ride. I now have a certificate to prove my prowess at glacier scaling. Photos below.

My impressions? Bizarrely beautiful shapes. Cold. Danger enough to add a delicious tingle of fear.

Travel tip

Take a few layers of clothing. You’ll feel warm while walking through the forest on the way to the glacier, freezing cold in the arctic wind on top of the glacier, and various temperatures in between.

Recommended accommodation

Westhaven Motel in Fox Glacier Township. The manager is delightfully hospitable, the broadband access is free, the rooms are spacious and comfortable. This was the best accommodation of our New Zealand trip.

The book I’m in

Clean Cut, by Lynda La Plante. A good cop and crim yarn, with a gritty ending.

The photos

Me approaching Fox Glacier:

Climbing Fox Glacier in New Zealand

Mark Wordsworm nearing the foot of Fox Glacier

Our guide described the hazards of the cave at the foot of the glacier and the dangers of getting too close:

A view of the glacier from above, showing how it curves around a corner and up the further slope. There’s more over the horizon too, though we didn’t see it:

Climbing Fox Glacier, New Zealand

A view of Fox Glacier from above

Zooming in to see two tour groups already on the ice:

Climbing Fox Glacier in New Zealand

Two tour groups on Fox Glacier

Now it’s our turn. The TC hung back to take this shot of our group climbing up the stairs hacked into the ice. See the weird and wonderful shapes the ice has formed:

Climbing Fox Glacier in New Zealand

Our group climbing up Fox Glacier

I made it! Me on the glacier:

Climbing Fox Glacier in New Zealand

Mark Wordsworm, conqueror of glaciers

Shapes and colours in the ice:

Climbing Fox Glacier in New Zealand

Shapes and colours in the ice on Fox Glacier

Sorbet, anyone?

Climbing Fox Glacier in New Zealand

Looking down into a crevasse, with a glacial stream of water at the bottom:

Climbing Fox Glacier in New Zealand

The TC venturing down into the crevasse:

Climbing Fox Glacier in New Zealand

The TC venturing into a crevasse

At the bottom of the crevasse, beautiful and scary:

Climbing Fox Glacier in New Zealand

A crevasse on Fox Glacier

Me and Peg, perched on a stone and leaning up against the TC’s boot. Ah yes, did I neglect to mention that Peg was there too? I’m avoiding contact with the ice itself. Nasty wet cold stuff, not very compatible with cardboard folk. Note the crampons strapped to the TC’s boot, inelegant but functional:

Climbing Fox Glacier in New Zealand

Me, Peg and the TC's crampon-fortified boot

Our guide carving a path for us:

Every now and then we heard the clink and clatter of a chunk of ice breaking off somewhere in the ice below us. Scary? Oh yeah! Every now and then the TC stuck her stick into a stream or a hole, and the stick went down and down and down as far as it could reach. Scary? Oh yeah! We stood on platforms, stepped to the next one and looked back, to see we’d been standing on a thin sheet of ice with not much below. Fun? Oh yes indeed.

Looking up towards the point where the glacier turns a corner:

Climbing Fox Glacier in New Zealand

Climbing Fox Glacier in New Zealand

As far as we could see:

Climbing Fox Glacier in New Zealand

The furthest point we could see when up on the glacier

Climbing down off the glacier:

Climbing Fox Glacier in New Zealand

Climbing down off Fox Glacier

Walking away from the glacier. The flat valley floor and extremely steep sides are characteristic of a valley carved by a glacier. In past centuries, Fox Glacier has been much lower down and created the valley we see here:

Climbing Fox Glacier in New Zealand

Walking away from Fox Glacier along the valley floor

This is to certify that Mark Wordsworm did visit the mighty Fox Glacier, did brave the inclemency of the South Westland climate and did endure the rambling discourses of the guides:

Climbing Fox Glacier in New Zealand

Certificate of this worm's glacier-conquering prowess

That’s all for today dudes.

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