Spectacular iceberg action creates ‘splash’ at Aoraki Mount Cook

26/01/10

Passengers aboard two Glacier Explorers boats at Aoraki Mount Cook last weekend were treated to a real show-stopper when the largest iceberg in the Tasman Glacier terminal lake rolled over and split in two right before their eyes.

Dubbed ‘Taniwha’, the 400m long by 300m wide by 100m high iceberg calved off the Tasman Glacier last summer and has been sitting high in the lake ever since. However as it slowly melted it became top heavy, causing it to roll and split. 

Glacier Explorers Operations Manager Bede Ward, whose company takes visitors on boat trips near the icebergs on the Tasman Glacier terminal lake, says it was an unforgettable experience for both tourists and guides. 

“We knew it was likely to happen for about a week prior and extended our safety zone accordingly, but everyone was just blown away to actually see it – it was absolutely amazing. 

“It’s hard to comprehend that the iceberg you see above the water is only 10 percent of what’s actually underneath the water and to see it rear up in all its glory is phenomenal.” 

Glacier Explorers’ three hour Tasman Glacier terminal lake boat cruises (90 minutes on the lake) are fast becoming a must-do activity for those who visit Aoraki Mount Cook. Passengers not only get to cruise the icebergs but also receive spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and some of the best photographic opportunities in the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park and World Heritage Area. 

Mr Ward says Glacier Explorers has already taken a record numbers of visitors on its cruises this season and believes reports of the two million year old, 27km long Tasman Glacier retreating have been a real drawcard. 

“People want to see New Zealand’s longest glacier while they can and Glacier Explorers provides an awesome, up close experience. 

“Since the Terminal Lake began forming in the 1970s, the Tasman Glacier’s retreat has been increasing at a faster rate and the process of water lapping on the icebergs is exacerbating its retreat. This is leaving an iceberg phenomenon in its wake - to see it is a once in a lifetime experience for most people.” 

For footage of the iceberg calving please visit:

TV3 website: http://www.3news.co.nz/Tourists-treated-to-dramatic-iceberg-show/tabid/309/articleID/138728/Default.aspx

and YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/thenzstory 

For more information on the photo of the iceberg calving please contact the photographer:

Annette McNamara: annette@avos.co.nz