The Tasman Glacier Viewpoint hike follows the Balls Hut Route before detouring up the moraine wall for incredible close-up views of the Tasman Glacier and Tasman Lake.
I was told about this moraine viewpoint by a friend who lives in New Zealand when I was looking for the best Tasman Glacier view walk. Surprisingly, there are no signposts or information online about this spot, which makes me think that the DOC has removed them, or it has always been a “secret” viewpoint
This particular track follows the Balls Hut route, with sections prone to high avalanche risk. To reach the actual viewpoint, you will also need to climb the sketchy moraine scree to the steep edge. This is very dangerous, and therefore I don’t recommend trying this unless you are very confident and the conditions allow.
How To Get to the Tasman Glacier Viewpoint Hike
The Tasman Glacier viewpoint hike to the moraine lookout starts from the Tasman Glacier car park, approximately 15 minutes from Mount Cook Village.
You will notice the sign pointing towards Tasman Valley road on the right side of Mount Cook Road just before the village.
The Tasman Glacier car park has plenty of space for cars and campers. There are three main tracks leading from the car park, including the Blue Lakes track, Tasman Glacier and lake walk, as well as the Balls Hut track.
Featured in:6 Awesome Hikes in Mount Cook National Park
Following the Balls Hut Track to the Tasman Glacier Viewpoint
- Hike Distance & Duration: 8.5 km in 2 hours
- Elevation: 260 m total gain to 910 m AMSL at the moraine viewpoint
- Difficulty: Easy but slightly sketchy scree climb
The hike to this particular Tasman Glacier viewpoint follows a wide trail to approximately halfway on the Balls Hut track.
At the time of writing this, the Balls Hut track has been closed due to avalanche and track damage further up the valley. However, the track is fine up to the viewpoint of the moraine.
MORE: 11 EPIC MOUNT COOK VIEW LOCATIONS
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My Experience on the Tasman Glacier Viewpoint Hike
The track itself is very wide and accommodates vehicles. Exiting our cars, we noticed the start of the track on the left side of the car park, which was blocked off by a vehicle gate.
We then followed this dirt “road” track for approximately 4 kilometers. Truthfully, this track is quite boring with not much to see before reaching the point where we could climb up the moraine. This is located on the right side and offers epic views of the Tasman Glacier and Tasman Lake. This scree “track” climbing the moraine was very easy to miss and there was no way we would have seen it if we didn’t know where to look.
Below is a screenshot of the approximate location of the point leading up to the moraine wall. Remember, this viewpoint is very dangerous and rockslides/avalanches can occur without warning. Please consult the DOC before attempting this yourself.
- GPS Coordinates: 43°40’05.5″S 170°10’27.9″E
Epic Views From the Top of the Tasman Lake Moraine Wall
The steep lookout point offers panoramic views of Tasman Lake and one of the closest possible viewpoints of the glacier itself.
Once, it was possible to see the edge of the glacial tongue from the south side of the lake, near the Blue Lakes. However, it has since retreated several kilometres, and it was even pretty far from this Tasman Glacier lookout. For us, this was yet another sobering reminder of the rate of glacial melt in New Zealand.
After admiring the glacier and lake, we turned around and headed back to the car park.
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Rent a car! New Zealand is very safe for motorists & driving is the best way to explore the country.
Make sure to book in advance using a comparison site like DiscoverCars to get the best deals. Or, if you want a camper, my favourite in NZ is Spaceships.
Optional: Loop With the Blue Lakes Track
Although not listed on the DOC as a track, it is possible to loop the Blue Lakes (near the shorter Tasman Glacier view walk) to the start of the Balls Hut track, adding only a few minutes.
The Blue Lakes are scenic alpine lakes on the side of the Tasman Lake that are definitely worth visiting since it’s only a short 5-10 minute walk from the car park.
Beware: Avalanche Warning
There are numerous signs at the Tasman Glacier car park warning about avalanche risk on the Balls Hut route. The wide track follows along steep moraines and therefore avalanches can happen without warning – especially in Winter.
RELATED: Mount Fox Route for Fox Glacier Views
Below is a GPX track showing my route on the Tasman Glacier view walk.
GPX File: Download
My Strava: Visit
Related:How to Hike the Hooker Valley Track
About the Tasman Glacier
I was surprised to find out that the Tasman Glacier is the largest in New Zealand! Once you arrive at the Tasman Glacier lookout, you’ll probably also notice that it is covered in rocks! It’s said that while the upper reaches of the glacier are exposed, the entire lower section has a thin layer of rock, which helps to insulate the ice from the heat of the sun.
The Tasman Glacier has also shrunken dramatically since the 1990s due to climate change.
Sadly, if current melting rates persist, the Tasman Glacier will be completely gone by the end of the century. Current predictions guess that the Glacier retreats at a rate of 477 to 822 M every year.
Alternative: Tasman Valley Walk and Glacier Lake Cruise
For even closer views of the Tasman Glacier, I’d highly recommend jumping on a very reasonably priced Glacier Lake Cruise. This is one of the most popular experiences around the Tasman Glacier, and involves taking a raft to the edge of the glacier wall, the closest you’ll ever get to New Zealand’s largest glacier!
Where to Stay Near the Tasman Glacier (Mount Cook National Park)
With so many amazing hiking opportunities in Mount Cook National Park, it’s worth staying at least a night in the nearby Mount Cook Village. Below are the 3 top-rated options with links to check availability & pricing.
- Aoraki Court Motel – a spacious motel offering small, affordable rooms and large, two-bedroom apartments in the Mount Cook Village.
- Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Lodge – beautiful lodge with spacious rooms accommodating everyone from couples to large families, just 5 minute’s walk from the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre.
- Aoraki Alpine Chalet – an incredible chalet with mountain views & a warm fireplace, just a short walk to the start of the Hooker Valley Track.
More Epic Hikes and Things to Do in Mount Cook National Park
Below you’ll find a list of more travel guides and articles to help you to plan your New Zealand adventure. For more great hikes, this guide to the 31 Best Hikes in South Island New Zealand.