Largest iceberg ‘calved’ in 25 years from Tasman Glacier Terminal Face


A three metre tidal wave surging down Aoraki Mount Cook’s Terminal Lake was the first indicator of the largest single iceberg in 25 years calving directly from the Tasman Glacier terminal face yesterday.

The giant slab of ice or ‘calf’, estimated to be 250m long by 250m wide by 80m high, plunged into the Terminal Lake in the early afternoon, the most significant single calving in the lake’s 25-year existence. A second iceberg about quarter of the size calved from the face shortly afterwards. 

Glacier Explorers Operations Manager Bede Ward, whose company takes visitors on boat trips to view the Tasman Glacier face from the water, said the calving happened between trips but made quite a splash. 

“The terminal face of the glacier is in quite an active phase at the moment so passengers are getting the trip of a lifetime,” he said. 

Last week passengers onboard Glacier Explorers boat trips witnessed the calving of “The Bomb”, an eight metre wide and 30 metre chunk of turquoise ice. 

“We thought that took the cake but this new iceberg, which we’ve christened “The Perfect 10”, is absolutely massive and a truly impressive sight. It supersedes the last significant one “Sir Ed” which was on 11 January 2008, the day Sir Edmund Hillary passed away.” 

“The Perfect 10” cannot be accessed by boat as Glacier Explorers has put a 300m ‘safety zone’ in place until conditions settle, however visitors can get up close and personal to the smaller iceberg which has floated away from the terminal face. 

“We’re getting more and more icebergs now so we’re naming them in order to track and communicate changes and locations. It also makes for fascinating stories for our passengers,” said Mr Ward. 

“Since the Terminal Lake began forming in 1973, the Tasman Glacier’s retreat has noticeably quickened because the lake is expanding all the time and is causing a more rapid melt of the terminal face. I think we may be looking at major calving from the terminal face as an annual event now.” 

The new icebergs can also be viewed from the air. One lucky couple, Craig Chambers and Ruth Watson from the United Kingdom, were “over the moon” to get a bird’s eye view as they flew back from their wedding location on Liebig Dome which stands at 7600ft at the edge of Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.

Craig Chambers and Ruth Watson wedding 11/02/09
“It’s a once in a lifetime occasion for us in more ways than one,” Mr Chambers quipped. 

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