Heli Hike on Fox Glacier

Thursday 22/02

We wake up around 8:30am. We are freezing in our cabin. I switch on the heater. We are quickly warm. Outside the sun is shining. Great!

We are very excited about the activity of today: ‘heli hike’ on Fox Glacier. First time on a helicopter for the kids and first time walking on a glacier for all of us. I booked the ‘Heli Hike’ 4-hour adventure with Fox Glacier Guiding, on Fox Glacier (the similar experience on Franz Josef Glacier was fully booked).

We take the breakfast outside.

Then the kids do one homeschooling session, from 10am to 11:30am, outside.

We leave around noon to Fox Glacier, 25 km from here.

The weather is amazing; we did very well, once more, to trust the weather forecast and to target this (isolated) sunny day.

We grab some sandwiches / wraps in the General Store of Fox Glacier and we eat them on a table outside. The sun beats down.

At 1:45pm, we go to the Fox Glacier Guiding shop where we are first briefed about the trip (especially safety issues, mainly related to the helicopter flights) and then given the required gear (shoes, bags and raincoats).

The Heli-Hike experience combines the thrill of 2 (5’) helicopter flights, with the opportunity to explore a remote and pristine part of the glacier on foot.

We embark in the helicopter; it’s only us 5 and the pilot (Jules sitting beside her). The flight is great, with amazing views. Once on the glacier, we meet our guide, Sarah (from Quebec), very nice, and the rest of our group: 2 German couples and 2 Chinese girls. The company brings roughly 400 people on the glacier per day (maximum). We put our crampons and take a walking pole. We start our walk on the glacier. Glacial forces are greatest in this area and create spectacular ice caves, arches and tunnels, brilliantly blue in colour. We love the tour. We are so lucky with the weather.

Some interesting facts about Fox Glacier: it is 12 km long, from the main divide to the terminal face; the nevé (the snow accumulation area) is 25 km² (bigger than the whole of Christchurch area); the depth of the glacier is up to 350m (100m where we are) and this moving river of ice falls 2,600 metres on its journey from the base of the Southern Alps to the West Coast. Fox and Franz Josef glacier are probably the most accessible glaciers in the world, as they terminate close to a temperate rainforest just 270m above sea level.

After 3 hours of walking on the glacier, we take the helicopter back to Fox Glacier. It was such a great experience!

We take our car and go quickly to the Peak Viewpoint, 10 km from there. It’s one of the best viewpoints in the area of the Southern Alps.

We then go back to Franz Josef. We go straightaway to a nearby restaurant to eat pizzas. We eat outside, enjoying the last sunshine rays of this beautiful day. Pizzas are not great but we enjoy them.

Back to the camping, we take a shower and then everybody dives into her/his book, in bed. At 10pm everybody sleeps. I don’t work late tonight: 11pm.


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