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Road from Fox Glacier to Mt Cook??

New York City, New...
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Road from Fox Glacier to Mt Cook??

Hello-I will be in SI in August!

Originally my plan was:

land in Christchurch, tranzalpine to greymouth, drive to Franz Joseph, drive to Wanaka (stopping at Fox Glacier on the way to see lake matheson), Wanaka, Queenstown, Doubtful and Milford, back to QST, drive to MT Cook, back to CC.

Now I am wondering if I should do this instead:

land in CC, tranzalpine to greymouth, drive to Franz, go to Fox (for lake M.), drive to Mt Cook, drive to Wanaka, drive to Queesntown, milford and doubtful, back to QST and then fly back to CC.

Can I drive from Fox to Mt Cook? If so, does it make sense to do that route rather than the original one?

Milford, New Jersey
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1. Re: Road from Fox Glacier to Mt Cook??

The only difference between your two routes is WHEN you want to visit Mt. Cook. There is only one road south from the Glaciers - that's Route 6 (great drive) and you HAVE to pass by Wanaka to get anywhere else on your list.

Each way, you've got some doubling back going on.

Six of one . . . .

If it were me, I'd opt for the second route. If you have a specific reason to stop at Wanaka (and there could be many) do that first, then hit Mt. Cook - then take Route 8 back south directly to Cromwell and run Rt. 6 to Queenstown. Not sure when you're spending the time in Q-town, either before or after Fjordland, but eventually getting back to Q-town airport to get to Christchurch makes sense.

All in all though - your total travel distance and road time is probably the same. The second route just eliminates the road trip from Mt. Cook to Christchurch.

By the way, while Lake Matheson does have very nice views (if the day is clear and the wind is calm), the real reason for stopping at Fox would be to take in the excellent heli-hike opportunity from Alpine Guides.

For maps and distances - try www.aatravel.co.nz

Te Anau
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for South Island, Te Anau
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2. Re: Road from Fox Glacier to Mt Cook??

Definitely plan A. You can't get from Fox or Franz to Mt Cook without crossing the Southern Alps. (Lewis Pass, Arthurs Pass or Haast Pass). Although close in distance, Fox Glacier and Mt Cook are many hours apart by road. You will see Mt Cook from around Fox, and if you wish you could fly from Fox to the Mt Cook air field, or you could do an overflight. If your preference is to fly out of Queenstown, rather than returning to ChCh then this would be your best option.

New York City, New...
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3. Re: Road from Fox Glacier to Mt Cook??

Hey NJ and VBC,

Ok this definitely clarifies things... I figured I could see Mt Cook from Fox or Franz Glacier, but I actually would like to go to the area, as I heard there is some great hiking/walking in Mt Cook. So I thought it was worth a day there.

I do have to get back to CC to fly out, I just figured maybe I could fly from Queenstown to CC (and then home) in order to save some time.

So maybe the new plan is:

Land CC

Tranzalpine to Greymouth/drive to Franz Jospeh

day in Franz J

drive to Wanaka (hitting Fox on the way)

1-2 days Wanaka

Drive to Mt Cook from there, have a day there

Then go to QST

then go to te anau, for access to milford and doubtful sound

then back to QST for flight to CC

sound right?

Te Anau
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4. Re: Road from Fox Glacier to Mt Cook??

If you drive from Wanaka to Mt Cook you then have to virtually return to Wanaka to get to Queenstown. You will spend most of the day driving, and have very little time for walking.

IMO you should stick to your original plan. Drive Qtn to Mt Cook. Stay the night there, or at Twizel or Tekapo, and drive to ChCh the next day.

Actually IMO the walks at Mt Cook are not worth a special trip, unless you are into mountaineering. It's a small valley between towering mountains, so as far as walking is concerned, things get very serious very quickly. Now someones going to jump on me and say the walks are fantastic. Well they are, too, but there are equally as good walks around Fox or Franz, and also around Queenstown. I think you would get more value and enjoyment from taking the ski plane or chopper onto one of the glaciers, or doing a guided walk onto the glacier. You don't get much from driving to the terminal face of the glaciers, you really have to get onto them, and the safest way is on a guided tour.

Milford, New Jersey
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5. Re: Road from Fox Glacier to Mt Cook??

What vbc said.

I'm glad it's a Local Expert pointing out the realities of Mt. Cook, not just a mere traveler such as myself, because I've always felt it is in an awkward location to easily visit as you come down the West Coast through South Island. I enjoyed a stay there, but I had a greater luxury of time when that was. Short of serious mountaineering, you will find that alpine "walks" abound in several other South Island locations, not just Mt. Cook.

MK, you seemed very keen on physically visiting Mt. Cook, which is why my first response was what is was. And my bias was trading a backtrack near Wanaka for the Mt. Cook to Christchurch drive which is nothing remarkable beyond Lake Tekapo. And I still think you're better off saving driving time by flying back to CCH from Qtown.

Better yet, take vbc's other advice and view Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman as you take a heli-hike at the glaciers, your experience will be much more rewarding, and by eliminating a Mt. Cook diversion (either Plan A or Plan B), you can better apply that time to equally satisfying diversions in Qtown or TeAnau.

I don't think there's any "wrong" answer, there's just better ones!