Glacier exploration on ice for winter


Close encounters with icebergs and glaciers at Aoraki Mount Cook will be put on ice from 10 May for the winter, concluding Glacier Explorers’ most successful season to date.

Glacier - guide with ice sheat
The company, which provides spectacular cruises on the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake in the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, will resume operations when the lake thaws in early to mid September. 

In response to the trip’s popularity this season, Glacier Explorers was able to increase passenger capacity by 25% by adding a fourth craft and a new time slot to its daily schedule. 

Operations Manager Bede Ward believes that reports of the two million year old, 27km long Tasman Glacier retreating has been a drawcard for business. 

“People want to see New Zealand’s largest glacier while they can and Glacier Explorers provides an unforgettable up close experience. Visitors to the glacier learn about glaciers, icebergs and get to truly watch nature in action – at close range! 

Glacier - boat close to the glacier
“Because of the increase in glacial melt, the lake is in an active phase with more prolific iceberg calving. It’s a really exciting and ever changing environment because the ice is constantly on the move with icebergs melting and great chunks falling into the water and rolling around.” 

Bede says that while the landscape is volatile and holds potential risks, Glacier Explorers complies with a stringent safety procedures plan at all times. Guides are all extensively trained and highly experienced. All boats remain a safe distance from any potential hazards. 

Scientists predict that glaciers such as the Tasman are on a path of retreat that can only be reversed by another ice age. 

Glacier - iceburg
“The glaciers are affected by a complex set of unique environmental factors. The Tasman Glacier terminal sits below the snow line where the ice melts the fastest. The glacier will continue to retreat until it reaches a point of balance within its environment,” says Bede. 

The Tasman Glacier Lake is only about 20 years old. The glacier’s retreat has noticeably quickened since the lake has formed because the lake itself causes more rapid melt of the terminal face (water is warmer than ice). Currently the Tasman Glacier Lake is approximately 6km long by 2km wide and 245m at its deepest point near the terminal face. 

Glacier Explorers is a locally owned and operated business which has been running for fifteen years. It is the only company permitted to operate in the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. 

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