Glacier Country in Photos

Franz Josef Glacier

Ah Geography. I remember it well. Teachers with funky patches over their tweed jackets, rambling on about rocks and weather and the importance of using the correct map colouring-in implement.

I knew that one day, all that important geography stuff would come in useful.

And I am pleased to report, that that day has finally arrived, with my recent trip to New Zealand’s most famous glaciers, where I was able, with a keen eye, to instantly recognise some glacially formed U-shaped valleys, and wow my travelling companion with my extensive knowledge.

There are two glaciers on the west coast of the south island which pretty much any visitor to New Zealand will be able to name – the Franz Josef and the Fox glaciers. These are handy for being very accessible and also rather spectacular. And, in peak season, rather busy, attracting around 600,000 visitors per year.

Fox Glacier

So, it was rather inevitable that we would see these glaciers as we headed down the coast, given that they are rather in the way as you travel. Which is a good thing. Because everyone should see wonders like this when they wander the world.

I could probably go on at some length as to the wonders of the glaciers, as to their icy blues depths, as to the towering walls of the valleys which they formed.

Instead of doing this though, I will share with you some photos of my few days in glacier land. I would urge anyone passing through to spend at least a couple of days in the area. There are two glaciers, both of which are deserving of your attention, and both of which have a number of walks that afford spectacular views.

You can even head out onto the ice itself, and for more on what that is like, I would recommend that you check out Amanda’s excellent post on hiking Franz Josef, over at A Dangerous Business.

Franz Josef Glacier 2

I would also suggest that you head to the mirror lake for amazing views of Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak, and if you have time, head down to Gillespies beach for unrivalled sunset / sunrise viewing. And now, on to some more photos.

Sunset rainbow southern alps

Sunset over the Mount Cook ranges of the Southern Alps, from Gillespies Beach. 

Rocks on the beach at sunset

Some rock piles at sunset. These can be found up and down the whole west coast. Must be a traveller thing. 

Beach at sunset

Sunset at Gillespie’s Beach 

Sunrise over the Southern Alps

Sunrise over Mount Cook

Tree field mist dawn

Early morning fog lifting near the Mirror Lake and Fox Glacier

Mirror lake reflection Lake Matheson southern alps New Zealand

View of Mount Cook at the Mirror Lake, named for fairly obvious reasons. 

Drop of water

A droplet of water 

Fox Glacier 2

Another view of the Fox Glacier, from the Chalet Lookout, a 1.5 hour return walk.

Southern Alps and river

The southern alps are some fairly impressively spikey mountains.

Well, that’s it for glacier country. From here the road winds south to Haast, and then across the southern alps through the spectacular Haast Pass to Wanaka, which is the subject of my next post. Until then…

I often get asked what gear I use for my photos. Check out my full Photography Gear post to find out!

Liked this post? Here's something related:


  1. Awesome photos as usual, Laurence! And thanks for the shout-out.  :)

  2. So good... so good... I'm jealous! These are phenomenal!

  3. Awesome pictures!!  Curious what camera do you use?   

  4. Thanks! Mostly I use a canon eos 400d with a rather lovely 10-22mm canon
    wide angle lens :)

  5. Oh, and a b+w polarising filter :)

  6. Aw man, I totally need to up my photography skills. Your shots are FABULOUS! Far better than mind. Kudos to you!

  7. Thanks Lindsay! Very much appreciate your kind words :)

  8. Beautiful photos! I love them all - couldn't pick a favorite! Found this post from your 7 Links post. We're inspired by your photos and are taking notes so we can learn from you!

  9. Thanks very much idelish :) Hopefully you'll find something that helps out
    in some way!

  10. Great photos as usual :) These actually made me feel the chill in the air!

  11. Loved the photos, thanks! :)

  12. The photos are amazing. I really like the variety also. Thanks for sharing them.

  13. I can never understand why people stack rocks on top of one another. Happens around Canada a lot too!

  14. Amazing photos and composition. I scrolled back up a few times to take a closer and note how you captured the beauty of the glaciers. Great work!

  15. Such beautiful pictures! My favorite is the view of Mount Cook by the Mirror Lake


Thanks for commenting! All comments are moderated, so it might take a day or two for your comment to appear and for us to respond :)

© 2017 Finding the Universe®.