Cycling New Zealand 2015: Franz Josef Glacier to Fox Glacier

This is the second of six blog posts about a recent two-week trip to New Zealand. Click through to read part one, about riding in the Port Hills of Christchurch.

It took a few days after my Christchurch ride before I had the opportunity to get out for another spin. Having driven out to the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island (via Arthurs Pass) my partner Sharon, her parents Murray and Betty and I headed south, towards Franz Josef Glacier. We spent two nights in the small town, the impressive glacier towering above us, and on the second day I got the chance to get out for a ride.

The town of Franz Josef is a bustling little tourist hub, and the same could be said for Fox Glacier roughly 25km down the road. But there’s very little of anything between the two, apart from a bit of tourist traffic and some damned impressive scenery.

Being glacier country the road between Franz Josef and Fox is predictably lumpy. Aside from a brief flatish section just out of Franz Josef, the road was either up or down all the way to Fox. The entire way the road winds its way through temperate rainforest with spectacular views a regular feature.

I got to the town of Fox Glacier before pushing through to check out the glacier itself. I had two options — ride to the glacier access carpark and see the glacier from afar (the walking track to the terminal is rough, rocky and bikes aren’t allowed) or follow the signs to the ‘glacier views’.

I took the second option, knowing I’d get a chance to see the glacier up close the following day when we drove through on our way south. And so I rode up the glacier views road, a road that soon turned to hard-packed clay; more than fine on 23mm tyres.

The views turned out to be pretty ordinary but as you can see in the video below it was worth it for the ride in anyway.

After turning around at the ‘lookout’ I started to feel a few drops of rain. The forecast had been for rain later in the afternoon but I thought I was clear by a few hours. I wasn’t.

The heavens opened just as I left the town of Fox Glacier and started heading for Franz Josef. On a regular ride back here in Melbourne rain like that would put a serious *cough* dampener on things, but in that environment the rain actually added to the experience.

Water rolled off the roadside ferns and the sound of the rain in the forest was calming as I climbed my way back towards Franz Josef. When the rain stopped a lovely mist rolled through, the ride only becoming more atmospheric as a result.


The following day we hit the road again and headed further south, stopping at Fox Glacier on the way. It would be another few days before I’d get to ride again.

Click here to see my Strava file from the ride.

4 Replies to “Cycling New Zealand 2015: Franz Josef Glacier to Fox Glacier”

  1. These are such great photographs! These glaciers really are spectacular natural features, definitely one of my highlights of visiting the Southern Alps of New Zealand was doing the scenic helicopter flight above them and getting an extraordinary new angle. To look down and see these expansive rivers of ice spread out beneath me really was an incredible experience, and I got some excellent shots of the glaciers from above!

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