Floating on a Glacier Lake: Lake Tasman Boat Tour

Let’s face it, half of this post is just #icebergporn.  This boat trip paired with hiking the stunning Hooker Valley Track in the afternoon is how you win at New Zealand life.

This was, without a doubt, one of the coolest (ha, pun not intended…but totally now intended) things we did the entire trip was taking a boat tour on a glacier lake.  And it was literally our first morning in the country.  We’d arrived in Christchurch the day before and driven several hours down to the Lake Tekapo area, to our super cute little “bach” (rental).

Why you have to take a glacier lake boat tour in New Zealand, tips for visiting Tasman Lake on the South Island, New Zealand itinerary advice & trip planning, what to do near Lake Tekapo or Mt. Cook in New Zealand | Tasman Glacier #newzealand #glacier

Why you have to take a glacier lake boat tour in New Zealand, tips for visiting Tasman Lake on the South Island, New Zealand itinerary advice & trip planning, what to do near Lake Tekapo or Mt. Cook in New Zealand | Tasman Glacier #newzealand #glacier

It took us about an hour and a half to get over to the Aoraki/Mt. Cook area from Lake Tekapo.  We got an early start but couldn’t resist stopping at Lake Pukaki along the way—so beautiful!  It was hard not to get distracted by the gorgeous scenery along the drive.  Though since it was my first time driving on the left, I reeeeally tried not to get distracted.

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We checked in for our glacier lake boat tour at the Hermitage Hotel about half an hour early, and then the more I thought about how cold and windy it would be out on the lake, I broke down and bought some merino wool gloves and a beanie.  Boy, glad I did—it was so cold out on the water!

The tour guide collected us and we began an easy walk from the hotel to the boat dock, around 20-30 minutes.  My head was practically on a swivel taking in all the scenery.  It’s both gorgeous and kind of alien.

Hiking up to Lake Tasman for our glacier lake boat tour, a must in New Zealand, tips for visiting Tasman Lake on the South Island, New Zealand itinerary advice & trip planning, what to do near Lake Tekapo or Mt. Cook in New Zealand #newzealand #glacier

Hiking up to Lake Tasman for our glacier lake boat tour, a must in New Zealand, tips for visiting Tasman Lake on the South Island, New Zealand itinerary advice & trip planning, what to do near Lake Tekapo or Mt. Cook in New Zealand #newzealand #glacier

Hiking up to Lake Tasman for our glacier lake boat tour, a must in New Zealand, tips for visiting Tasman Lake on the South Island, New Zealand itinerary advice & trip planning, what to do near Lake Tekapo or Mt. Cook in New Zealand #newzealand #glacier

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At the dock we stored our belongings and got suited up in life jackets, then boarded the boats and were off!

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Despite it feeling windy out on the water, it really was quite a calm day, which was awesome since the lake gave us great reflections.  We started seeing tons of little baby icebergs that had calved off the big mama.

Why a glacier lake boat tour is a must in New Zealand, tips for visiting Tasman Lake on the South Island. New Zealand itinerary advice & trip planning, what to do near Lake Tekapo or Mt. Cook in New Zealand #newzealand #glacier

Why a glacier lake boat tour is a must in New Zealand, tips for visiting Tasman Lake on the South Island. New Zealand itinerary advice & trip planning, what to do near Lake Tekapo or Mt. Cook in New Zealand #newzealand #glacier

Why a glacier lake boat tour is a must in New Zealand, tips for visiting Tasman Lake on the South Island. New Zealand itinerary advice & trip planning, what to do near Lake Tekapo or Mt. Cook in New Zealand #newzealand #glacier

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Our guide took us close enough to touch them a couple times, and even grabbed pieces of ice out of the water for us.  It’s so clear you can’t believe it!

@sjems5: “This is the oldest thing I’ve ever put in my mouth!”

Why a glacier lake boat tour is a must in New Zealand, tips for visiting Tasman Lake on the South Island. New Zealand itinerary advice & trip planning, what to do near Lake Tekapo or Mt. Cook in New Zealand #newzealand #glacier

Little icebergs calved off Tasman Glacier, New Zealand | A glacier lake boat tour is a must in New Zealand, why you have to visit Tasman Lake on the South Island. New Zealand itinerary advice & trip planning, what to do near Lake Tekapo or Mt. Cook in New Zealand #newzealand #glacier

My pictures from this day were, without question, the best of the entire trip.  The combo of bright blue sky, craggy snow-capped mountains, milky turquoise water, and sharp icebergs just can’t be topped.

Little icebergs calved off Tasman Glacier, New Zealand | A glacier lake boat tour is a must in New Zealand, why you have to visit Tasman Lake on the South Island. New Zealand itinerary advice & trip planning, what to do near Lake Tekapo or Mt. Cook in New Zealand #newzealand #glacier

Tasman Lake, South Island, New Zealand | A glacier lake boat tour is a must in New Zealand, why you have to visit Tasman Lake on the South Island. New Zealand itinerary advice & trip planning, what to do near Lake Tekapo or Mt. Cook in New Zealand #newzealand #glacier

Lake Tasman, NZ | A glacier lake boat tour is a must in New Zealand, why you have to visit Tasman Lake on the South Island. New Zealand itinerary advice & trip planning, what to do near Lake Tekapo or Mt. Cook in New Zealand #newzealand #glacier

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There was only one other group out at the same time as us, and we barely caught a glimpse of them.  I’d done a lot of research before our trip to find a tour outfit and location where it wouldn’t just be loading up hordes of people and really crowded.  This felt intimate, we were in a small group, and it really allowed it to feel personal.

Finally we got to see the big glacier itself.  The Tasman Glacier, at 27 km long, is the longest in New Zealand.  Obviously we were seeing just a tiny piece of that, but it was so cool to see up close!  The color and that kind of dirty marbling was unexpected for me (since I haven’t experienced glaciers before), and personally I thought it added really awesome character to it.

Tasman Glacier, South Island, New Zealand | A glacier lake boat tour is a must in New Zealand, why you have to visit Tasman Lake on the South Island. New Zealand itinerary advice & trip planning, what to do near Lake Tekapo or Mt. Cook in New Zealand #newzealand #glacier

Tasman Glacier, South Island, New Zealand | A glacier lake boat tour is a must in New Zealand, why you have to visit Tasman Lake on the South Island. New Zealand itinerary advice & trip planning, what to do near Lake Tekapo or Mt. Cook in New Zealand #newzealand #glacier

Tasman Glacier, New Zealand...a glacier lake boat tour is a must in New Zealand, why you have to visit Lake Tasman on the South Island. New Zealand itinerary advice & trip planning, what to do near Lake Tekapo or Mt. Cook in New Zealand #newzealand #glacier

What to do in New Zealand--a glacier lake boat tour is a must, why you have to visit Tasman Lake on the South Island. New Zealand itinerary advice & trip planning, what to do near Lake Tekapo or Mt. Cook in New Zealand #newzealand #glacier

Finally it was time to head back.  It felt like it went really fast, but we did have quite a while out on the water.  I’d recommend this in a heartbeat to anyone, was an amazing experience.  Again, it’s perfect when paired with the Hooker Valley Track hike as a full day of some of New Zealand’s best scenery.

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A glacier lake boat tour is a must in New Zealand, why you have to visit Tasman Lake on the South Island. New Zealand itinerary advice & trip planning, what to do near Lake Tekapo or Mt. Cook in New Zealand #newzealand #glacier

About our glacier lake boat tour on Tasman Lake:

  • We went with Glacier Explorers and had a great tour
  • It was $145 NZD per person (this was a few years ago)
  • Parking at Hermitage Hotel (where you meet the tour) is free and plentiful
  • It can get cold out on the water, so unless it’s the dead of summer make sure to bring some extra layers and a hat and gloves

Other amazing boat adventures:

A Day on Scotland’s Magical Isle of Staffa

Renting a Sailboat on Airbnb & Sailing in Sweden

Skye’s Moody Loch Coruisk and the Black Cuillins

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A glacier lake boat tour is a must in New Zealand, why you have to visit Tasman Lake on the South Island. New Zealand itinerary advice & trip planning, what to do near Lake Tekapo or Mt. Cook in New Zealand #newzealand #glacier

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