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Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier is longer than the Franz Josef Glacier and descends slowly around a bend in a narrower valley. Its terminal face is about 250 metres above sea level. The névé or snow catchment area is bounded by Douglas Peak, and Mounts Haast, Tasman, Torres and others. It also gives access to the La Perouse Glacier that leads to the brooding Mt La Perouse.

The Maori name for the glacier is Te Moeka o Tuawe or the bed of Tuawe. He was a Maori warrior who fell to his death while climbing with his lover Hine Hukatere. The valley was his final resting place, and her tears of sorrow froze and became a glacier in everlasting memory of her beloved.

In 1857 Maori guides led the first Europeans, Leonard Harper and Edwin Fox, across a traditional east–west pathway (ara hikoi) that Europeans later named Harper Pass. Young Harper saw and named the two glaciers – ‘Albert’ (now Fox) and ‘Victoria’ (now Franz Josef), after the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland at the time and her consort. But Harper did not register these names.

In 1865 German geologist/explorer/museum founder Julius Von Haast decided to name the glacier ‘Fox’ in honour of the New Zealand’s premier at the time, Sir William Fox. The local village later took its name from the glacier. This was only the first of a number of landmarks that Haast did not actually ‘discover’ as a European explorer but took the liberty of naming. Haast also registered the name ‘Franz Josef Glacier’ to honour the Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Franz Josef I. Sir William Fox visited in 1872 and painted a famous water colour of ‘his’ glacier. For more information on the life of Sir William see history of the Mount Fox route.

Emperor Franz Josef ‘gifted’ what has become one of Westland Tai Poutini National Park’s greatest pests. Two males and six female chamois were shipped to Wellington, then taken to the Hermitage in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park and released in 1907. Chamois can be hunted. To hunt chamois on public conservation land you must get a hunting permit from Department of Conservation (DOC). You can apply online www.doc.govt.nz or at a DOC office nearest the hunting area.

Between 1894 and 1895 the famous explorer Charlie Douglas and William Wilson mapped and surveyed the glacier.

River Walk, Fox Glacier
The historic swing bridge was built in 1929 at a cost of 1200 pounds. It was prefabricated in England and then shipped to New Zealand. A sled was used to drag it to the site where it was installed.

Strong enough to take horses and sheep, the bridge was the safe route south to Jacobs River for many years before the Cook River was properly bridged in the 1930s.

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