Fox Glacier has some amazing family friendly walks catering to families of all abilities and ages. Look no further as we have compiled a list of the best family friendly walks in the beautiful South Island town of Fox Glacier.
Fox Glacier South side Walkway / Cycleway
Duration: 2 hours
Distance: 6.4km return via same track
This walkway leads to a stunning viewpoint of Fox Glacier. It follows the south bank of the Fox River through ancient podocarp rainforest. The track heads gently up the valley crossing ancient glacial moraine surfaces. The first viewpoint of the glacier is reached after 40 minutes. Continue up to the old car park where the track winds gently downhill through the rainforest for approximately 10 minutes to a view point of Fox Glacier.
You can cycle this track as far as the old carpark where bikes must be left before continuing on foot. Cycling takes approximately 1 hour.
Duration: 20 minutes
Distance: 1.2km loop track
A delightful short walk that is near Fox Glacier village. The track follows a stream through the rainforest and is suitable for wheelchairs and buggies. Glow worms can be seen after dark so take a torch and go exploring at night.
Duration: 1hr 30min
Distance: 2.6km loop track
Lake Matheson is famous for the beautiful mirror reflections of Aoraki (Mount Cook) and Mount Tasman. The waters of Lake Matheson are dark brown, creating the ideal reflective surface on a calm day. The colour is caused by natural leaching of organic matter from the surrounding native forest floor.
The walk around it is one of the most popular short walks in New Zealand and for good reason! You will cross the Clearwater suspension bridge and walk through ancient native forest including tall Kahikatea and Rimu to the Jetty Viewpoint. The jetty provides a stunning mountain view and on a calm day you will see the magnificent reflections. This first section of the walk up to Jetty Viewpoint is 40 minutes return and is suitable for assisted wheelchairs.
After walking to Jetty Viewpoint you can continue on further around the lake. You will find another magnificent mountain reflection shrouded in native foliage at the View of Views at the top end of the lake and again at Reflection Island. From here the trail ascends a small hill with a convenient park bench up the top before heading back down towards the neighbouring farm and carpark.
Long finned native eels thrive in the dark waters of Lake Matheson so look out for these at the viewpoints. If you want to catch the reflection dawn or dusk is best. However the view is stunning no matter what the mood of the lake is.
Lake Gault Track
Duration: 3-5 hour return
Distance: 8km return via same track
This track begins from the Lake Matheson carpark, you follow Lake Matheson in an anti-clockwise direction before branching off to Lake Gault. The track gradually climbs through ancient podocarp forest with several small stream crossings. As the track flattens out you will catch a glimpse of Lake Gault through the vegetation. Continue on to the lookout point where there is a clearing with a seat. Sit and enjoy the incredible views of the Southern Alps including Aoraki/Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. On a still day these peaks are reflected on the surface of the lake.
The last four walks on our list are at Gillespies Beach a scenic 21km drive from Fox Glacier Village
Gillespies Suction Dredge Walk
Duration: 15 min
Distance: 400 metres
The Gillespies Suction Dredge Walk is a short loop track starting from the main Gillespies Beach car park. Wander past historical remains of the suction dredge used by the miners in the late 19th century. Interpretation panels take you back to when Gillespies Beach was a bustling gold mining town.
Gillespies Bucket Dredge Walk
Duration: 30 min
Follow the Miners Tunnel Track from the main Gillespies Beach car park and camping area through gorse-covered dredge tailings to the remains of an old 1930s gold dredge. On a clear day the mountain tops will peak above the gorse. From here you can continue to the Miners Tunnel or Galway Beach or, return the way you came or via the beach.
Miners Tunnel Track
Duration: 1 hr 40 min
This track continues on past the bucket dredge out onto the beach. Walk north along the beach until you reach Gillespies Lagoon. The lagoon is crossed by a bridge 5 minutes inland. Enjoy spectacular views from here on a fine day.
From the lagoon the track follows the line of a gold miners’ pack track, climbing up an old glacier moraine before entering a tunnel built to provide an all-tide access route for miners. The track emerges to a viewing point above the beach – there is no access to the beach from this point.
Galway Beach Tramping Track
Duration: 3 hr 30 minute
Follow the Miners Tunnel Track from Gillespies Beach car park and campsite. Turn off at the Galway Beach sign, just before the miners tunnel. The track weaves through rimu forest and leads to a remote beach. The seal colony at Galway Beach is a haul-out (resting) colony for seals in the winter.
Take care not to disturb the seals and never get between the seals and the sea. Do not try and walk through the colony to Gillespies Lagoon – you must return to the car park via the track.
For more information on these walks and other walks in Glacier Country click here.
Before you go please remember to:
- Check the current track conditions and weather forecasts at the Westland Tai Poutini National Visitor Centre before starting your trip.
- Always take warm and waterproof clothing as the weather can change rapidly.
- Carry drinking water, insect repellent and sun protection at all times.