Heli-hike at Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier Travel Blog› entry 6 of 16 › view all entries
Today was Heli-Hike day!! I booked the Heli-Hike trip before I arrived with a company called Fox Glacier Guiding. They do loads of different trips where you can see the glacier. The Heli-Hike (or flying fox!) is a 4 hour trip where you fly up in helicopter onto part of the glacier and hike around for 2.5 - 3 hours.
Fox Glacier is 13km long and is the longest of New Zealands Glaciers and the most commercially guided. Once on the glacier you are surrounded by Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. Fox Glacier has been advancing by about a meter a week since 1985 which means that it is constantly getting bigger.
We met at the centre in Fox Glacier and were driven in really old mini buses to the helicopter site where we were given a security briefing, socks, boots, crampons and sticks. We were also told how to act around the helicopter... head down, dont walk into the blades etc!
Once we were in the helicopter we had about a 5-10 minute journey up to the landing site on the glacier. I was expecting it to be really cold considering we were standing on ice, but it was surprisingly warm... in fact our guide was just wearing shorts and a tshirt! Before we started our hike our guide gave us some information about the glacier... I learnt lots that I didn't know... glaciers are not made of ice - they are made from compressed snow! The colours in the glacier are amazing, in the caves and tunnels there are parts that are really bright blue - we were given a scientific explantation as to why it is blue.
We spend about 3 hours on the glacier and it felt like we had walked for miles and miles, but when we looked back to where the helicopter landing site was we had hardly gone any distance at all. The top part of the glacier looked like it could be reached in a matter of minutes, but was still 6km away from where we were. There were loads of ice caves and tunnels on the Glacier, some of them we were allowed to walk / crawl through, but others were too dangerous. There were also pools of water and little rivers / streams were we filled out bottles with pure glacier water - absolutely freezing cold - but totally refreshing!
We made our way back to the helicopter landing site (which changes daily due to the Glacier movement) and flew back down to the centre where we were given a certificate to say we had hiked on Fox Glacier!