One of New Zealand’s most unique tourist attractions has once again been put on ice for the winter season.
Glacier Explorers, the company that provides spectacular close encounter iceberg and glacier cruises on the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake within the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, will resume operations when the lake thaws in late August.
The company’s three-hour Tasman boat cruises (90 minutes on the lake) are fast becoming a must-do activity for those who visit Aoraki Mount Cook. Passengers are not only able 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.
Operations Manager Bede Ward says it’s been a great season and tourists and guides alike have been treated to some unforgettable moments.
“Earlier in the season, passengers aboard two Glacier Explorers boats witnessed a real show-stopper when ‘Taniwha’, our largest iceberg (400m long by 300m wide by 100m high) in the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake, rolled over and split in two right before their eyes. It was absolutely amazing!”
This year Glacier Explorers introduced a third new boat to its operation which, combined with an existing nine-seater boat, now gives it a maximum capacity of 54 per trip.
Mr Ward says the increased capacity gives Glacier Explorers greater flexibility to cater to the increasing group market.
“Three years ago our core business was two trips a day but operations have now expanded to five trips a day and six in the peak eight weeks of the season,” he says.
“People want to see New Zealand’s longest glacier while they can and Glacier Explorers provides an awesome, up close experience.”
According to Mr Ward, new initiatives such as instant online confirmation through the company’s website and using Tasman Valley 4WD and Argo Tours as an alternative to Glacier Explorers in inclement weather have proved to be a success, especially for group tours.
“We bought Tasman Valley 4WD and Argo Tours last October and it’s the perfect complement to Glacier Explorers. It gives people more options, particularly when we get those 10% ‘weather’ days when Glacier Explorers can’t operate because of bad weather. It’s also a year-round rather than seasonal activity so is great for the winter months.”