From Queenstown, you can easily reach the West Coast and its famous glaciers. The most accessible landmarks in South Island glacier country are Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier, which flow almost to sea level. With your Queenstown Airport car rental from Hertz, you can experience these ice giants in the flesh for yourself.
You can drive from Queenstown to Fox Glacier in half a day. You might, however, like to stop in Wanaka on the way. The shortest route is over the Crown Range Road, a challenging road that demands full attention, but with great views. Alternatively you can take the easier way along SH6 following the Shotover River and Lake Dunstan.
In Wanaka you can enjoy the cafes and restaurants or get out into the outdoors – skiing and snowboarding, boating and fishing, hiking and climbing. From here, you’ll drive between Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka, through dramatic Mt Aspiring National Park and emerge onto the West Coast at Haast, where you can fuel up. Just north of Haast lies Lake Moeraki, a plentiful fishing spot and a short walk from a penguin colony. At Lake Paringa there’s a salmon farm.
Continue along SH6 until you reach Fox Glacier. The terminal face of the glacier is just a few kilometres from the township and you can walk the valley path from the carpark to the glacier. Guided tours onto the ice are also available.
Not far north lies Franz Josef Glacier. Here, it’s an even shorter walk from the carpark to the terminal face. Again, guided tours are able to land on the ice and give you a chance to explore it from within. At the township, make sure to stop at the famous hot pools for a soak.
Glacier tourism is highly weather dependent and the weather on the West Coast is highly changeable – it can swing in a moment. Rainfall is high so factor this into your driving plans and your travel plans.