Minnehaha Walk Fox Glacier
This easy all-weather track is well graded and sheltered by the moss strewn forest and a wealth of ferns. The track is wheelchair and pushchair friendly, and takes about 20 minutes return. At night take a torch and look out for glow worms.
The start of the track is 50 metres south of the Fox Glacier Village on State Highway 6.
This relaxing walk follows a small stream through the rain forest. There are few places in the world where virgin forest can be found so close to an urban centre. Enjoy the first hand experience of the rugged entanglement that is the West Coast podocarp forest. Return along the road or back along the track.
At night glow worms can be seen in tree trunks and along the banks of the stream. Glow worms are not actually worms; they are actually the maggots of a fungus gnat Arachnocampa luminosa. They use their glowing lights to bewitch small flying insects and ensnare them in their sticky threads. The Moari call them titiwai which means “lights reflected in water.”
It is not known why this track is called Minnehaha. There are three possibilities.
Minnehaha was a fictional Native American woman who was the lover of Hiawatha in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1855 epic poem “The Song of Hiawatha”. When translated into English the name Minnehaha means “Babbling Brook”. Historic references have been made to a real Minnehaha who was a Sioux Indian and the eighteen year old daughter of the great chief Sitting Bear. She fell in love with a lieutenant in the United States Army at Fort Sully and died of a broken heart after she was forbidden to see him.
Minnehaha was also the nickname given to Mrs Elizabeth Wallace Simpson. She was the American socialite divorcée who married the Duke of Windsor. In the name of love, he abdicated his throne and the position of King Edward VIII of the British Empire in 1936. At the same time, she was named “Woman of the Year” by Time Magazine and was the first woman ever to hold this title.
The scandal of a King marrying a twice-divorced American with two living ex-husbands meant the couple had to meet for their illicit trysts out of the public’s eye. You can only imagine that a secluded walkway, so close to town would have been the perfect spot for secret lovers to meet. With only the moonlight and the glow worms to watch.