An adventure on the Tasman: Heli-hiking New Zealand’s most significant glacier

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Prior to I moved to New Zealand, I had small familiarity with glaciers, only seeing them from a distance in Europe, and undoubtedly in no way walking on them.

The very first glimpse I got of Aoraki/Mount Cook just about 5 years ago on my way to do Mueller Hut for my birthday with good friends, I was blown away. Jutting out from the surrounding mountains, this iconic peak, New Zealand’s highest, lords more than the surrounding Alps with ease.

Walking in his shadow, I immediately fell in really like with this element of the nation. Can you blame me?

As we struggled on the major climb up the Mueller Ridge, I could see the icefalls of the nearby Mt. Sefton twinkling in the sunlight, sometimes interrupted with a major icefall tumbling down to the valley beneath (nicely away from folks, I could possibly add).

This new icy globe immediately fascinated me. I was hooked.

heli hike new zealand

heli hike new zealand
The view flying up Fox Glacier

This was also about the time I was hearing rumors about how undertaking a heli-hike on Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers have been THE Factor to do though on a trip to New Zealand. By content likelihood I’ve been in a position to invest rather a bit of time more than in Fox Glacier and have been in a position to join in on a handful of helicopter flights and heli-hikes on Fox Glacier up on the ice for a handful of years and I can attest they are remarkable.

You catch a helicopter flight from the Fox township up onto the ice on the Fox Glacier which tumbles down in a blue river of ice from the back of Mt. Cook on the west coast of the South Island. One particular of the only glaciers in the globe that descends down into a rainforest, it is an unbelievable practical experience.

You are guided on the ice for a handful of hours just before choppering back down to reality.

heli hike new zealand
Heli-hiking on Fox Glacier
heli hike new zealand
Chancellor Hut subsequent to Fox Glacier

A handful of years ago they expanded and now supply heli-hikes more than the Tasman Glacier from Mount Cook Village.

Mount Cook sits somewhat smack in the middle of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, a mountain chain operating north to south, the backbone of the South Island. In the heart of the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, there are a lot of walks to delight in of all levels and skills with views of the 19 peaks that are more than three,000 meters higher.

Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers drop down to the West Coast, though the Tasman Glacier runs down towards the east towards Christchurch and Mount Cook Village. Geographically the towns of Fox and Mt. Cook are so close you can geotag them on posts on line, but in reality there is no road connecting them, and it is a six hour drive about by means of Wanaka.

heli hike new zealand

heli hike new zealand

I really like the Tasman Glacier, which is completely various from it is neighbor Fox Glacier on the other side.  The Tasman is New Zealand’s longest and biggest glacier, just about 25 kilometers lengthy, it is a whopper. Seemingly wider and far more open than Fox, you truly get the scope of the location as you discover it on a heli-hike.

What’s also truly unbelievable is the normally dramatic distinction in climate to either side of Mt. Cook.

Several instances it is raining more than in Fox Glacier, and sunny in Mt. Cook. You can normally appear towards the West Coast and see the clouds sitting on the divide of the Alps, which indicates you can normally nevertheless hike and fly in Mt. Cook when you can not in Fox, or vice-versa.

heli hike new zealand

heli hike new zealand

You do not have to have any practical experience in mountaineering or employing crampons to go on a Tasman Glacier Heli Hike, which is amazing for folks like me, who want the practical experience of becoming on the ice in the mountains with secure situations and guides.

You will get a thorough security briefing just before attempting on the gear and heading out to your chariot into the hills: a helicopter.

I’m obsessed with riding in helicopters right here in NZ, they are so a great deal entertaining and actually let me reside out all my Leading Gun fantasies, and it unquestionably tends to make you really feel quite badass climbing out of a helicopter onto a glacier!

heli hike new zealand

heli hike new zealand

The scenic flight out to the landing internet site on the Tasman is a single of my favorites in all of New Zealand.

You will get a good view of Mt. Cook to your left and out more than the Tasman Lake, which is normally filled with calving icebergs off of the Tasman Glacier. Attempt to think about that the Tasman Lake didn’t exist in the 70’s. Hello climate transform!

Surrounded by massive mountains, you are assured to be marveling at the scale of it all. Impressive to say the least, there is practically nothing rather like experiencing these magnificent peaks from a helicopter, unless of course you can climb it.

Sidenote: no, you can not climb Mt. Cook unless you are a quite skilled mountaineer. I’m actually shocked how a lot of folks ask me that. It is a major, complicated and unsafe mountain. It is a great deal safer to go heli-hiking, with a lot of of the guides becoming skilled mountaineers who’v climbed Aoraki.

heli hike new zealand
The Tasman Glacier face
heli hike new zealand
An massive iceberg in the Tasman Lake, observed from a guided boat cruise

Prior to you know it, you will be climbing down from the chopper onto the ice, strapping crampons to your feet and finding applied to walking and trusting them to grip the ice.

What tends to make heli-hiking the Tasman so entertaining and exclusive is that the glacier is normally moving and altering, at a a great deal quicker price than you could ever think about. What attributes you could possibly discover a single day on the ice, could be completely various the subsequent day.

Even even though it is a guided operation, you truly really feel like you are exploring a new globe, simply because you are. You in no way know what you could possibly discover on the ice!

heli hike new zealand

heli hike new zealand

The guides are super knowledgeable and skilled, a lot of of them are my good friends, and they lead you safely all through the glacier, sharing stories of this magnificent location

You will most likely get to peek down moulins, wiggle by means of tunnels, and probably even slide in an ice cave or two.

To see the shiny blue ice up close and individual is just unbelievable. It appears just about each shade of blue is reflected in this magnificent glacier, and I couldn’t assist but touch it frequently.

heli hike new zealand

heli hike new zealand

At the danger of becoming a total downer, it is extremely we nevertheless have areas like this in the globe, and that these glaciers haven’t disappeared but.

Now’s the time to practical experience their wonder and beauty for yourselves, and hopefully like me you will grow to be an advocate for climate transform and for safeguarding our planet as well.

The Tasman Glacier is a single of a type, and as soon as you have touched the ice up there, you will be changed as well!

Have you ever been on a glacier? Share!

heli hike new zealand

heli hike new zealand

Several thanks to Mt. Cook Glacier Guiding for hosting me on the Tasman. Like normally I’m maintaining it true – all opinions are my personal – like you could anticipate significantly less from me!

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