Tasman Glacier Experience

Posted January 26, 2018

Tasman Glacier Experience

By Libby Venning

Driving up to Aoraki Mt Cook national park, things weren’t looking too hopeful. Low cloud and rain increased the closer I got.  It was pouring down once I had reached The Hermitage carpark. I checked in at the activities desk and was assured we would still enjoy our experience, and this was confirmed by a very friendly cleaner who also advised us we would have an awesome time!

A coach sat patiently outside in the rain, waiting for the group to embark. I was feeling extremely excited and curious at this stage. Tom was our guide. The journey took about 10 minutes. Information was imparted about the height of Aoraki Mount Cook, what Aoraki actually means “ the cloud piercer”, what it’s like to live in the small isolated village and of course, Sir Edmund Hilary was mentioned. We were also told about the native matagouri bush which we would be walking past and were warned not to fall onto one because our faces would be slashed open! The guide was fun and informative, exactly the right balance for this type of activity.

We got to Tasman carpark and had a 20-minute gentle walk to the lake. The views down to Lake Pukaki were breathtaking because as luck would have it, the rain had stopped. Soon we arrived at the awe-inspiring Tasman Lake, a milky, murky, bluey, brown colour, a glacial lake. Dotted around were icebergs, some huge, some small, but magnificent in their presence. 

We were divided into 3 groups and then once our life jackets were checked, we got onto our designated yellow boat. Tom our captain radioed to the other two captains, we have a roller, quick let’s go!


One of the largest icebergs closest to us was rolling up out of the water. It was trying to rebalance it’s 10% exposed mass to the 90% under the water. It was a glorious sight. Parts of the iceberg that hadn’t been exposed to daylight from between 600 and 300 years were suddenly ushered out of the water, exposed to oxygen the ice became bright electric blue. It looked like a million jewels. The sight was priceless.

Once we managed to contain our excitement, Tom our captain told us all about the Tasman Glacier and the formation of the Lake, just 30 years ago! We could see the wall of ice at the far end of the Lake, the foot of the glacier today and with a 3,2,1 the engine was revved up and off we shot. The boats are no way noisy and intrusive, they are the perfect vessel for such an amazing experience.

We got up close and personal to a couple of icebergs on the way. One was so blue it was almost glowing, look at me.


 We approached another iceberg and Tom managed to break a chunk off, it tasted great, pure and refreshing.


It was once we got as close to the glacier wall as safely possible, ( as we all know from the Titanic it’s not what’s above the water that can cause the problem, it’s what’s hiding below) then a sudden feeling of total surrealism hit in. The natural surroundings were sublime, incredible, peaceful. The snow-capped mountains in the distance, the retreating glacier, the wall of solid blue ice, and lake surrounded by huge scars some 30 meters above us indicating the previous position of the glacier were astonishing. A magical moment to be savoured and remembered forever. It was like sitting in a movie, it just did not feel real. 


The Tasman Glacier Lake Explorer tour takes approximately 2 and ¾ hours. The price was $170 NZ. Real New Zealand Tours can highly recommend this unique experience. Just one of many magical activities you can enjoy in Aoraki Mt Cook.



Previous Article Back