The West coast of the South Island of New Zealand is home to around 31,000 people. Not many when you think that this coast stretches for hundreds of kilometres. Drive along here and you are blessed with views of rugged landscapes (such as Pancake Rocks), rivers, mountains, beaches, the Tasman Sea…and maybe heavy rain (over 5m a year) and sandflies (there are always explanatory downsides for a small population!).
The accessible Franz Josef and Fox glaciers are along this coast and are comparatively easy to access either on foot or by helicopter (complete with snow landings). You can even do a heli-hike if you like the feel of crampons (maybe next time).
Getting out of a helicopter at the top of a glacier is truly breathtaking. Unspoilt. Pristine. Perfect. Let’s hope they don’t melt away.