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Visitors experience trip of a lifetime at Aoraki Mount Cook

Jen Andrews - 05/02/09

Passengers onboard Glacier Explorers boat trips were treated to an unforgettable experience on Monday when they witnessed a huge chunk of turquoise ice calve from an iceberg into the Tasman Glacier terminal lake.

For the past couple of days passengers have been enjoying ‘trips of a lifetime' on the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake boat trip which is based in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.

Glacier Explorers Operations Manager Bede Ward says the newly calved iceberg is absolutely spectacular and will only be seen in all its glory for about another three days.

"I've seen some incredible icebergs here but this one takes the cake. We're very excited about it! Visitors sometimes forget that we operate in an extreme alpine environment where icebergs can roll over and collapse into the water so it's a real thrill when they see such a momentous event with their own eyes.

"The Bomb, as we've named her, stands about eight metres wide and 30 metres high. And that's just the tip of the iceberg - the other 90 percent is underwater!

"The beautiful deep turquoise ice is called basal ice which means it has broken off the glacier under the water. The iceberg will only stay this colour for a short time before the sun heats it and tiny bubbles of air emerge. Then the iceberg turns white and gradually becomes coated with moraine.”

Whilst on a Glacier Explorer lake trip, passengers can also enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, including Aoraki Mount Cook, and some of the best photographic opportunities available in the national park.

For more information visit

More information about glaciers

  • Glaciers are formed high up in the mountains.
  • Snow falls in the winter and collects in depressions (neve). If snow remains after the warmer weather in summer, the next winter's snow adds to the pile.
  • Over time the snow piles up and squashes down, forming a type of snow called firn. Then right at the bottom after more snow piles up the firn turns to glacial ice. When there is enough snow on top the glacier begins to slide down the mountain.
  • Glaciers are huge 'scraping' rivers of ice - they scrape and push tonnes and tonnes of rock along with them. This rock associated with glaciers is called moraine.

Ice crystal gazing Iceberg, up close and personal
Ice crystal gazing
Iceberg, up close and personal
Operations Manager Bede Ward pointing out the features of the newly calved iceberg
Operations Manager Bede Ward pointing out the features of the newly calved iceberg
3 photos of glacier in the process of calving
(caught on a passenger’s camera)
glacier in the process of calving - Shot 1 glacier in the process of calving - Shot 2
glacier in the process of calving - Shot 3
Click on image to view a larger version

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