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Skip the glaciers?

Los Angeles...
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Skip the glaciers?

We are planning a 2 week trip to the SI in Feb and I am thinking of skipping the glaciers in favor of more time other places. We want beautiful mountains/lakes and hikes, and would like to see Mt. Cook, Milford Sound, Wanaka area, Abel Tasman and Marlborough Sounds. I've seen glaciers in Patagonia but I don't want to skip Fox/FJ if they are truly a must-see. But right now it seems they may not be worth it as they are so touristy. Any thoughts on this would be great. Thank you!

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Patagonia
Patagonia
Argentina
New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
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1. Re: Skip the glaciers?

Points to consider -

how are you getting from Abel Tasman to Wanaka if not via the West Coast? - I supose you can always fly?

what makes a glacier touristy? there are no billboards, no neon lights, just a river of ice seemingly untouched by civilisation.

and lastly, is your user name s-adventure... or sad-venture? now that would be sad :(

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California
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2. Re: Skip the glaciers?

I'm located about an hour south of you, in Los Gatos (assuming your location is correct at SF).

Personally, on our trip in Dec '12, when we toured the top of the SI, down to the glaciers, and across Arthur's Pass... I would have skipped the glaciers and spent more time in Golden Bay. We did the morning circuit of Lake Matheson and that impressed me more than the helihike on Fox. Compare the costs (free, vs about $800 for 2), if I had to do it again I wouldn't. I had planned to explore FJG as we headed back towards Hokitika Gorge, but by then we had enough of the area. I suppose if our itinerary had us heading over Haast Pass to Wanaka, I might have felt it a worthwhile stop.

If your itinerary flows nicely without going south of Hokitika (and even there I was a bit disillusioned), I would skip it.

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Haast Pass
Haast Pass
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South Island, New Zealand
Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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3. Re: Skip the glaciers?

It is possible to fly ZQN to CHC to avoid the glacier area. OTH there are some fabulous hikes in the rainforest (eg Alexs knob, Roberts Point) which cannot be done at any other glaciers in the world.

Ballarat, Australia
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4. Re: Skip the glaciers?

I wouldn't say the glaciers are any more touristy than any of the other places you're going to see. However, wanting to get from Fiordland to Nelson in only two weeks, if you want to have time for anything other than driving you really need to drive one way only, and if you go one way you have to choose whether to go east or west of the main divide. This means you need to choose between Mt Cook and the glaciers.

I would suggest you fly into Queenstown and do Milford Sound as a day tour from there. Then pick up your hire car and drive Wanaka - Mt Cook - Kaikoura - Picton - Nelson/Golden Bay. Fly out of Nelson or drive back to Christchurch via Hanmer Springs. Even this much will be a pretty rushed trip.

Australia
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5. Re: Skip the glaciers?

The glacier helihike on Franz Josef was AMAZING. We went in 2009 and the helihike was one of the highlights of our trip. We were blessed with wonderful weather, and climbing through ice caves and being in awe of this amazing natural phenomena was not to be missed...plus the photo's were incredible. We are going to do it again on our return visit this month, so for us it was worth the money. But I guess for us, there are no glaciers in Australia, so it was an impressive sight from our point of view.

Debbie

Nova Scotia
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for Nova Scotia
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6. Re: Skip the glaciers?

Like you we had seen glaciers before. You can also see a glacier at Mount Cook.

However we loved the crashing waves and temperate rainforest on the west coast. We loved Punakaiki. Walking around Matheson Lake was also wonderful.

Sunnyvale, CA
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7. Re: Skip the glaciers?

I've seen glaciers before in Switzerland, Alaska, and other places but FJ was still amazing. The heli hike was one of the highlights of our trip, and the other hikes to the glacier viewpoints are beautiful, because of all the nature there, not just the glaciers. We also loved the serenity of the area - it's a very low population town, people are so warm and friendly, that just adds to the experience.

We did also go to Mt. Cook which we also loved, but that had more of the atmosphere of a tourist area (think US national park lodges). However, you do get to see glaciers there - such as doing the Hooker Valley trail and either doing the Glacier Explorers boat tour (couldn't do since we were there in the winter) or the Argo tour (which we did do).

We drove Nelson-FJ-Queenstown-TeAnau-Mt.Cook-Dunedin, then flew to CHCH. In terms of the drive, the drive along the west coast is definitely much more beautiful.

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Alaska
Alaska
United States
San Antonio, Texas
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8. Re: Skip the glaciers?

Did you hike on the glaciers in Patagonia? If so, then maybe skipping them would make sense. But if not, I just couldn't pass up hiking on one of them. Doing the full day tour on Fox Glacier was just such an enormous highlight of my trip last year, and some day I'll come back and take the ice climbing tour.

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Patagonia
Patagonia
Argentina
Oz
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9. Re: Skip the glaciers?

Hi,

I wouldn't skip the glaciers they are unique in all the world as they:

terminate in rainforest,

are the fastest flowing anywhere,

are the fastest retreating (if the current rate of retreat is maintained in twenty years they will be no more!

I normally don't disagree with deSchenke other than over motor homes! However IMHO Murderer's Bay (now called the politically correct Golden Bay) is a lovely beach/cuniform bay but it isn't unique.

Cheers,

Greymouth, New...
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10. Re: Skip the glaciers?

The issue of do you see a glacier or not really is a non issue. touring NZ is not so much about the destination as it is about the journey. Enjoy travelling along the West Coast, enjoy the vistas, enjoy the lakes hidden in the untouched moutain bush, enjoy the mosses and lichens on the trees, enjoy the coastal vistas of the tasmans sea which is roaring in across the roaring fourties with thousands of miles of fetch. enjoy the recent history of road construction , unsolved murder mystery, gold and greenstone thieves. enjoy the small towns whose history was based on sawmiling and now quite village, enjoy the only nesting santuary of the white heron in forests which are thousands of years old. Often when I drive this road i do not visit the glaciers, but there still so much untouched scenry to enjoy that you suffer from scenery overdose. no you do not have to visit the Glaciers but if you miss the journey, you will miss seeing aunique part of New Zealand.

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New Zealand
New Zealand
South Pacific