Fed by four alpine glaciers, Fox Glacier falls 2,600m on its 13km journey from the Southern Alps down to the coast, with it having the distinction of being one of the few glaciers to end among lush rainforest only 300 metres above sea level. Although retreating throughout most of the last 100 years, it has been advancing since 1985. In 2006 the average rate of advance was about a metre a week. The outflow of the glacier forms the Fox River. During the last ice age, its ice reached beyond the present coastline, and the glacier left behind many moraines during its retreat. Lake Matheson formed as a kettle lake within one of these.
What Is A Glacier?
A glacier is a moving mass of ice, travelling down a valley 100,000 times slower than a river. It must have a huge basin to collect snow at the top which must stay at freezing temperatures for many years.
The Recipe For Fox Glacier
The highest peaks of the Southern Alps lie in the path of westerly airstreams. Moisture laden winds rapidly ascend, dumping huge< amounts of rain and at high altitudes, snow.
How The Glacier Works
Ice moves by sliding over the underlying rocks on a film of water and by plastic flow within the glacier itself. The top layer about 20 meters, rides along as a brittle crust, splitting into crevasses (gaps) where the glacier flows over humps and drags at valley walls. Huge steps in the bedrock will cause a corresponding effect at the surface - towering seracs (blocks of ice) project skywards before tumbling into chaotic ice falls.
You may log this cache and email the answers and coodinates at the same time. Logs containing any answers to questions will be deleted. You may need to do additional research in order to answer the questions and log your find. You are not required to leave marked trails at any time to complete this earth cache:
1. Take a set of co-ordinates using your GPS as close to the
'Terminal Face' allowed by the marked path. Provide them in your e-mail
2. Estimate the distance to the Glacier Face
3. Take a photo of yourself and GPS with the glacier clearly in the
background and post it with your log (Photo's of GPS only are
4. Fox is one of two what, in the Westland Tai Poutini National
5. Is the glacier currently advancing or retreating and at what
6. As you enter or exit Fox Glacier via road you will see a marker
that shows where the Glacier was in the year 1750. Take a second
set of GPS coordinates at the sign marking the location. Put these in your e-mail also. Using your
1st set of coordinates and estimated distance to the glacier face
calculate the total distance of retreat (straight line).
Be sure to check out The Department of Conservation website for safety information and viewing additional details. For any queries be sure to check with:
Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre Phone: +64 3 752 0796 Address: 13 State Highway 6 Franz Josef Glacier 7856