heli-hiking fox glacier, A Bucket List Guide to Heli-Hiking Fox Glacier

A Bucket List Guide to Heli-Hiking Fox Glacier

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Hold up–what’s heli-hiking? What’s Fox Glacier? And what’s heli-hiking Fox Glacier? Let’s talk about this EPIC bucket list adventure for all of the adrenaline junkies and outdoor lovers!

How did I stumble upon heli-hiking Fox Glacier? On one fine Sunday in Fiji, I was laying on the beach watching the sunset. I had spent the last hour talking to other travelers my age. They had just come from New Zealand and were absolutely raving about the country. 

Since New Zealand was my next stop, I decided to do some investigating into what activities were unmissable! Expecting to hear a wide variety of things to do, there was one activity that every single person told me I could not skip. 

Ironically, I had heard about Fox Glacier before but decided not to do it because of the price. However, since I was now hearing from everyone how incredible it was, how could I not do it? I have the willpower equivalent of a teaspoon…I am aware.

Once I got to New Zealand, the day finally came when I got to heli-hike Fox Glacier. And although it came with a sizable price tag, it was very safe to say that those travelers in Fiji did not steer me wrong!

heli-hiking fox glacier, A Bucket List Guide to Heli-Hiking Fox Glacier
Standing next to a glacier lake in Fox Glacier, New Zealand.

Bucket List Review of Heli-Hiking Fox glacier

Who Needs to Add This to Their Bucket List?Outdoor and adventure enthusiasts who want to hike
in a whole new way and go on a helicopter!
Best Time to GoNovember to February, but may be more crowded.
Traveling DifficultyEasy
Physical DifficultyModerate
Popularity Rating5/10
Group/Tour RequiredYes
Wheelchair AccessibleSome companies claim that it is – I’ll believe it
when I see it.
Twin Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers Helicopter Trip
Best Tour for Fox GlacierHeli Hike Fox Glacier
Best Accommodation Near Fox GlacierFox Glacier Lodge
Traveler’s InsuranceVisitorsCoverage

If you need more information about the categories of this table, please check out the Bucket List Reviews guide.

heli-hiking fox glacier, A Bucket List Guide to Heli-Hiking Fox Glacier
A waterfall spotted while heli-hiking in New Zealand.

Finding a Tour Company for Heli-Hiking Fox Glacier

I took a guided tour through New Zealand and this was automatically offered to me as an optional excursion. Unless you are visiting friends/family and have your own car, it might be easier to go with the ‘guided tour’ option since it isn’t exactly outside any of the major cities. ,

If you are not on a massive tour of New Zealand like I was, I would recommend going through Viator or Get Your Guide. Here are some options so that you can check this epic adventure off of your bucket list:

Where to Stay Near Fox Glacier

There are several places to stay that are very close to the start of tours for Fox Glacier.

If you are on a budget, the Ivorytowers Backpacker Lodge is a hostel that is a 4 minute walk from Fox Glacier Villiage and even has a hot tub and sauna.

For a medium ranged option, Fox Glacier Lodge provides a rustic cabin experience with mountain views.

For my luxurious travels, I would consider heading to Te Waonui Forest Retreat. It is a little further away, but makes up for it in its luxurious atmosphere and amenities.

Plan Your Stay to Fox Glacier, New Zealand

Step 1

Find a place to stay

Find a place to rest after this epic bucket list activity!

Step 2

Book Activities

Find the best helicopter adventure for you!

Step 3

find a Car to Rent

It might be hard and expensive to get to Fox Glacier if you don’t have a car.

Step 4

Traveler’s Insurance

Because it does have a small chance of being dangerous, always stay safe!

Fox Glacier Best Time to Heli-Hike Fox Glacier

It is important to note that as long as the weather permits, most helicopters fly year round. The glacier stays year round too, but is constantly changing.

There is speculation on what time of year is the best to go on this adventure, with many opposing opinions.

Peak season will be summer from November to February. This will draw in more crowds and warmer temperatures.

There are others that argue that winter (June to August) is better. Not only is it less crowded, but glacier features such as seracs (ice towers, crevices, and tunnels) are more prominent.

When I went heli-hiking Fox Glacier, I went during October. I had no issues whatsoever: the temperature was tolerable, the skies were clear, and the glacier was stunning!

The bottom line is that this is a unique activity that can be enjoyed year round! So, whatever time you choose to check this off, you should be in a good spot.

Best Time of day to go on a Helicopter in Fox Glacier

This may be highly dependent on the company, but most helicopters fly in the morning. They do this to avoid afternoon storms and get those beautiful clear skies that are perfect for flying.

Starting Your Adventure To Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier is in Glacier Country. This is in the middle (and a little to the left) of the south island.  

Although I know that it is possible to get close by bus from any major city in the southern islands, I think that it is significantly easier to drive. 

We drove our tour bus to the station where we sat through multiple safety briefings. Side note, I am starting to notice a lot of activities that I do have these safety briefings…I wonder what that says about me…opps. 

These were mostly about how to enter/exit the helicopter and protocols for hiking with the gear. Once done, we got sized for our snazzy pants and jacket as well as shoes that fit the crampons (more on that later).

heli-hiking fox glacier, A Bucket List Guide to Heli-Hiking Fox Glacier
The Bucket List Mermaid hiking Fox Glacier.

How do you get to Fox Glacier?

Now you might have read up in the previous section and thought, “Wait…did she just say helicopter??”

Yes. Yes, I did. Helicopter

One of the things that makes heli-hiking Fox Glacier so fun is that you don’t just walk to it and start hiking. You have to be FLOWN there. Riding in a helicopter was very high on my bucket list—but riding a helicopter so that you can go hike a glacier in New Zealand? That’s next level! 

The ride wasn’t too long—not more than 15 minutes. That doesn’t mean that my heart was not pounding the entire time and it was one of the most exhilarating experiences! I don’t know what I was expecting, but something about riding in a helicopter was even more amazing than I could have imagined! What a rush! 

And I do have to say…since it is a helicopter, know the risks, stay safe, and HAVE FUN!

heli-hiking fox glacier, A Bucket List Guide to Heli-Hiking Fox Glacier
Hanging upside-down in an ice tunnel!

The Gear You Will be Provided With When Heli-Hiking Fox Glacier

Once you land on the glacier, they will provide you with certain gear to keep you safe. As I mentioned previously, you will have already been given some snow gear for warmth. 

But that’s not all! When I went, we were also provided a bag for our things, crampons, and poles. 

For those of you who don’t know what crampons are, they are shoe extensions that are tight to the bottom of your shoes. They make the bottom of your feet spiky and help with traction with the ice. I also had to wear these on the Tongariro Pass. 

Don’t let these intimidate you! They really do make you feel more stable walking on ice and snow (not to mention you feel like a badass). 

Another piece of gear that is provided is poles. Again, this is pretty self-explanatory and helps for stability when walking around. 

The guide also had a pickaxe that he used to carve paths and allowed me to get some pretty unbelievable pictures.

heli-hiking fox glacier, A Bucket List Guide to Heli-Hiking Fox Glacier
Showing off my necessary gear to go hiking on a glacier.

What is it like to go heli-hiking Fox Glacier?

I am a hiking enthusiast and while this was similar, there were some differences that I noticed between this and hiking normally.

You have to be more careful where and how you step

You have to step with the intention for every single step. There were some places where the snow and ice were quite slippery. This is lessened by the gear but you still have the risk of falling.

There is no marked path when You Heli-Hike Fox Glacier

In traditional hiking, you would normally not need a guide because most of the time there are clear and informative trails. 

With this, a guide was needed at all times and there was not a clear path. It seemed like we just went wherever the ice would allow us to go, with the guide sometimes making a path for us!

You Wont’t go as far

Instead of walking miles to reach a destination, this felt more like a wandering stroll. Since there is no designated path, we just explored rather than had a specific place to go.

If you are are also a massive hiker like me, you can also find more bucket list hikes on The Bucket List Mermaid.

heli-hiking fox glacier, A Bucket List Guide to Heli-Hiking Fox Glacier

There were a few ice tunnels when Heli-Hiking Fox Glacier

One part of the hike that I absolutely loved was sometimes we would come across little tunnels made out of ice. 

Disclaimer: if you are massively claustrophobic, this is NOT for you. Let the guide know and he will find you another route. 

At one point, I was on my stomach (and that was tight!) pulling the snow to move myself to get to the other side.

You have to follow the guide’s every instruction

Unlike some guided hikes where you can leisurely listen to the guide, I would probably pay more attention to this one. 

He would tell us dangerous spots, where not to put our feet, where we could walk etc.

heli-hiking fox glacier, A Bucket List Guide to Heli-Hiking Fox Glacier

heli-hiking fox glacier, A Bucket List Guide to Heli-Hiking Fox Glacier

The pictures are a bit more unique than a standard hike when you are heli-hiking Fox Glacier

Don’t forget to bring your camera or phone! There were several opportunities to take pictures with the scenery, the waterfall, or the helicopter.

The helicopter

This one is quite obvious and I don’t know about some of you…but I’ve never been dropped off via helicopter for a hike. 

This is seriously cool and a once-in-a-lifetime experience in itself!

heli-hiking fox glacier, A Bucket List Guide to Heli-Hiking Fox Glacier
My New Zealand travel mates getting ready to go on a bucket list adventure.

Heli-Hiking Fox Glacier Budget

Since there are several factors involved such as specialized guides, gear, and the helicopter ride over, that does jack up the price quite a bit

As I mentioned before, I originally gonna pass on this experience because of the hefty price tag. That being said, I do think that this is a once-in-a-lifetime activity. Coming from someone who has checked this off of her bucket list, I would say that the price is worth it if you are interested in it! Let me explain:

For me, I am an adrenaline and outdoor junkie. Therefore, the idea that I got to jump into a helicopter (which was on my bucket list by itself) and go hike a glacier with waterfalls and ice tunnels all while looking over the scenery in New Zealand? Yeah…can’t really pass that up. 

But if hiking and adventure aren’t really your thing, then it might not be worth it…or at least there are other activities that might be better suited for that amount of money. 

Is Heli-Hiking Fox Glacier Worth the Price for Your Bucket List?

So I would say to reflect and see if this is something that is unmissable for you! If it is, I would wait until you save the extra money to fly to New Zealand. That is, of course, if you don’t want to go to New Zealand twice. That seems more expensive to me but to each their own! 

There are different options for tours such as just the helicopter or another nearby glacier (Fran’s Josef). However, no matter what you do, it is likely to set you back around $400 and lasts about 3-4 hours

heli-hiking fox glacier, A Bucket List Guide to Heli-Hiking Fox Glacier
Checking off my bucket list for hiking a glacier and riding in a helicopter!

Do you have a trip planned to New Zealand and are adding heli-hiking Fox Glacier to your bucket list? Don’t forget to follow me on social media and tag me in your photos so that I can see how it went!

Adventure Bucket List Resources

I am here to help your travel adventures go as smoothly as possible! That way you can check off that bucket list with minimal complications and spending!

AIRFARE – It is no surprise that like many travelers, I have found that Hopper is one of the best resources to use when finding cheap flights. 

ACCOMMODATION – My two favorites are Booking.Com for hotels and VRBO for rentals. 

GUIDED TOURS –  If you are looking for quick and easy tours, check out GetYourGuide and Viator

MULTI-DAY TOURS –  For more in-depth tours that span several days, TourHub has many great options with reputable travel companies. Use my code (ALEXANDRA1GURU) for up to 5% off your next bucket list adventure. 

TRANSPORTATION –  You can either rent a car yourself with Discover Cars or do a guided bus tours like Big Bus Tours

CREDIT CARD –  I always use my Chase Freedom Unlimited card for all of my purchases. There is no annual fee and you get 1.5% cash back and 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel. 

SIM CARDS –  Avoid expensive roaming charges with an eSim card with Airalo.

TRAVELER’S INSURANCE –  Check out VisitorsCoverage for affordable insurance plans.

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heli-hiking fox glacier, A Bucket List Guide to Heli-Hiking Fox Glacier

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