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Springtime in Glacier Country


“There is no time like Spring, when life’s alive in everything” 

~ Christina Rossetti, Spring


Spring, or Kōanga, on the West Coast, is an exciting time of year, lasting from September through November.  


Clocks turn forward as days grow longer. Remaining firewood is packed away to aestivate until next autumn. The golden brown colours of winter slowly transform into an assortment of greens as the forest takes bloom. Misty mornings are greeted by a chorus of insects and birds, busy preparing nature’s garden. It is a time of beginning, where everything comes to life once again. 


“In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.” 

~ Mark Twain


Fox Glacier, Glacier Country, NZ

A moody West Coast day contrasting beautifully against the blue ice of Fox Glacier. Photo Credit: Geoff Marks


Considered a shoulder season, spring is often overlooked by those making holiday plans. This is precisely why it’s a fantastic time to travel! A mixed bag of weather conditions can certainly be delivered, making each day a surprise. That’s no reason to shy away, though. These very conditions, as unknown and unpredictable as they can be, are what keep the masses away for a bit longer. 


Have you ever turned up to an event early? Let’s imagine a wedding. Decorations dangle glamorously overhead. Tables are set in symmetrical perfection. The dance floor lies still, shiny and untrampled. The air is electrified with a buzz of anticipation. In the kitchen, the catering crew are busy preparing to fill hungry bellies later that evening. Being there before everyone else arrives allows for more time to speak with the wedding party themselves and admire the beautiful set-up as it waits undisturbed. A pre-emptive moment of silence. The calm before the storm. And, if you’re lucky, there might even be a sample or two of the evening’s desserts to test out.


Franz Josef Wilderness Tours, West Coast, NZ

Spring rainbow over Lake Mapourika. Credit: Franz Josef Wilderness Tours


Yes, there’s a lot to be said for being early, and spring is no different. With school holidays still several weeks away, coming to South Westland as one of only a few travellers keen for a quieter experience can provide a more intimate interaction with local people and the surrounding area. Sure, off-season travel isn’t for everyone, dressing like an onion and preparing for four seasons in a day. However, for those who prefer a splash of solitude added to their cup of adventure, the rewards of springtime are plenty to drink in. 


Picture yourself sitting on the terrace of a quiet cafe enjoying a hearty breakfast while gazing at mountaintops covered in fresh snow. When you finish, you make your way to that morning’s activity, where you find yourself part of a small group, eyes all shining with excitement as your guide greets you. After the adventure, you return to your accommodation for a hot shower – no lineup, you just walk right in. At dinner that evening, enough people are around for some atmosphere without the restaurant of your choice bustling as though it were on the Las Vegas Strip. Heck! You might even meet some locals and join them for a nightcap before heading back under either a fresh spring rain or a clear sky full of stars – you just never know! 


View from Matheson Cafe, Fox Glacier, NZ

Stunning views of New Zealand’s highest peaks Aoraki/Mt Cook and Horokoau/Mt Tasman from Matheson Cafe in Fox Glacier.


It’s all about preference. Some people love the wedding celebration, shakin’ what their mama gave them until the wee hours of the morning – summer. Some fancy the aftermath, where silence falls once again upon partially ringing ears – autumn. Still, others are eager to return home for some peace and quiet, happy the party happened, and even happier it’s over – winter. Whatever your taste, Glacier County has a season for everyone with plenty to do regardless of the weather or time of year.


For all you early birds, though, spring is upon us, and it’s a magical time to visit. So, what are you waiting for? Spring into action, and we’ll see you soon!


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Blog written by Mike Bilo

Mike Bilodeau is a content writer for eco and sustainable tourism operators. He’s an advocate for Slow Travel and is currently making his way slowly around Europe with his furry companion, Koru.