Glaciers around the world are melting and disappearing from World Maps. We are not immune to it as this sad reality is hitting New Zealand as well, and it’s not a nice sight.
The Southern Alps are becoming more and more unstable for alpine activities with increased rock avalanches as the warmer temperatures are melting rock binding ice in lower altitudes then in past.
All this rock avalanche debris falls on the shrinking and narrowing glaciers in valleys below, covering their gasping for breath remnants under layers of rocks.
In case of Tasman Glacier, this is even more evident, as with it’s lengths of 27km now, it is New Zealand’s longest and mightiest glacier…but how long for when its retreat is today estimated to be close to 1 km each year.
In 2010 massive calving event occurred, littering Tasman Glacier terminal lake, non-existent 40 years ago, with tons of ice debris and icebergs.
It’s not every day when event like this happens so I went to check it out myself. When I arrived at the terminal lake near sunset time, the sky suddenly closed up, clouds rolled over my head and it started to snow. The light of the setting sun was penetrating this gentle snowfall, and all Tasman Valley got dressed up in this beautiful pinkish pastel colours…very eerie, moody scene with all the icebergs in the lake…how lucky I was to witness this alone…
Taken with Nikon D300 and Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens
It’s been a while since my last images release last September, yes, time passes by fast, and I wasn’t wasting my time.
Rather, it was the opposite. I spent quite some time on the road chasing the light and visiting many new places, as well as going back to those favourite ones.
New locations in magnificent Mt. Cook National Park has been visited, stunning beach of Totaranui, Wharariki and much, much more fell a target of my camera…and then, long days were spent in office processing and uploading all those image files onto our stock site.
As a result, you can now found several hundreds of new photos added and spread throughout galleries on our website and where they are now all available for licensing.
To view samples of these new images showcasing coastal areas of Golden Bay on top of the South Island, as well as new locations in Mt. Cook National Park and Abel Tasman National Parks , plus much more, please visit our image gallery New Stock Coastal and Mountains Images from Totaranui, Wharariki, West Coast, Mt. Cook and Abel Tasman NP .
All Photos: ©Petr Hlavacek – www.nzicescapes.com
Thank you and Enjoy!
This shot is from last winter on Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand.
It was a beautiful day, as it always is on the West Coast and which is why you wanna be on ice, right?
I was on one of my explorations of this glacier. Since the glacier’s changing literally every day, you can keep coming back all the time and always see some new magic.
On this day, it was these turquoise fringes of the crevasses which caught my attention, as they were shining from a distance at me.
I love these ice colours but it is not easy to get around locations like this, especially in winter when every crack, deep crevasse or whole is covered with snow. These adventures can truly be deadly if you don’t know what you’re doing. I’ve been tip toeing around these crevasses, poking the ground in front of me before I put my next step down. I wanted to get as close as I could to get a nice wide angle shot with a lot of detail.
Standing on the slippery edge of the crevasse I made this exposure with my 12-24 mm wide angle lens at 12mm and with +1.3 EV exposure compensation.
Only very little of touch up on this RAW file in Lightroom was required to finalize the frame.
I hope you’ll like it as I do.
I’ve been wondering for quite some time how Franz Josef Glacier looks under the moonlight. As you know, there is only 12 or 13 full moons in a year and not each of moon’s appearance is on a clear sky for maximum light. Also, I might not always be able to chase it…but eventually, I managed.
Couple of days back it looked like its going to be a good full moon and because I was around, I decided to give it a go and hurried up to climb the hill and spent a night under the stars…and what a night it was!
I’ve been just starting and experimenting with night photography so I was very excited to see what can be captured. I managed to get several exposures ranging from 30 to 40 min but I can see that there is much more potential. It was full moon and that’s why I went up – to get well illuminated glacier but next time I might go somewhere in the middle of the moon cycle. That should allow me to add some nice, stronger star trails into the frame, as well, as this time the sky was too bright.
Since this image is not online yet, the link from it will take you to our STOCK galleries where you can explore more on New Zealand’s landscapes!
This seems to be a very nice way to share those past twelve months of photographic adventures with all our friends, followers and supporters. Therefore I also decided to point out 12 images, one for each month, which I feel very good about. Most of them are already online and you may have come them across on our stock website but even if so, I reckon these frames deserve to be showcased again.
In January I had some great times with my models on Franz Josef Glacier.
It is not common to be able to walk through this deep ice crevasses but on this occasion, we were very lucky to be here. Actually, this has been the deepest crevasse I’ve ever walked through. It might have been 15-20m deep at places and possibly 100m long. It was absolutely amazing and my massive and grateful THANK YOU goes to the Glacier Guides from Franz Josef, who made this possible!
It wasn’t easy to pick my favourite shot as the ice colours and patterns were changing along the way but this image has a great combination of being lost amidst the ice and “Alice in the Wonderland” feeling. Totally surreal place to be in!
In February, on one late afternoon I drove from Wanaka toward the West Coast. It was very dull and the sky was heavily clouded with no light at all and it started to rain slowly, intensifying into downpour. It felt like you were under some dark blanket. Except for one moment when a sudden burst of light broke through the black clouds. Luckily I was able to grab this image before it started to bucket down again.
In March I had my friend, a fellow photographer over to visit and we decided to take a heli ride over the glaciers in Westland NP. With doors off, we spent nearly an hour of the golden hour of the day flying over the Southern Alps and making images. For this image in the upper parts of the Fox Glacier I asked pilot if he could get as low and as close to these crevasses as he could, so I could emphasize them. They remind me of fingers pointing to the second highest mountain in NZ – Mt. Tasman 3497m which dominates the background. The orangy colours are partially from setting sun but they’re also enhanced by the dust which by the end of summer reaches NZ from Australian outback.
April was an exciting month, as I was able to visit one of the locations I’ve been having on my list for many years – the Ice Lake.
This lake is hidden behind ranges only a few km away from my home and is an absolute gem. It is also very difficult to photograph since the lake sits in between high ranges so not much light gets there and one faces a massive exposure differences. In this image I didn’t have many options but HDR.
Frankly, I’m just starting to learn a little about HDR as I’m not a huge fan but do understand its benefits, which I appreciated in creating this image.
May, that’s when the winter starts kicking in. And winter on the West Coast is just magnificent. Brilliant skies and best light. I love going on the glacier in winter because you get all sorts of frozen patterns in puddles made by melting water from the sunny days.
One of great example is here – frozen air bubbles in a small crack in the ice filled with water. Unfortunately, the limited colour space of your screen doesn’t show you the real colours of this image but just imagine intense blue-turquoise hues. Love it!
In June I visited another of my favourite locations – The Castle Rock Hut.
This hut is perched on the ridge overlooking Franz Josef Glacier with some spectacular views. Can’t wait to go back!
July was again – the glacier time. With fresh blanket of snow, everything looks so pristine and pure. Then all it takes is to walk and walk and walk around very carefully, looking for some nice frame to make an image. And if the sun and caves works together, some great images are to be had.
Using a small aperture gives you this nice starburst effect, which ultimately makes the image shine.
There is still plenty of snow on the mountains in August and it’s a great time to get some fantastic imagery done. This image was made on the Gillespies Beach with reflections of highest NZ mountains – Mt. Cook (3754m) right and Mt. Tasman (3497m) left.
The Tasman Sea is just a few meters behind my back so one has to watch ones back if the tide is high.
In September I was working on assignment to get the panorama of the Southern Alps with as little shadows as possible – sometime you have to listen to your client. Despite that brief, the image turned out quite nicely. We waited several days for some fresh snow to dust up the already warming mountains and that’s why I picked this image for this month, as it shows gently snow covered mountains with a lot of detail and all the beauty of Fox Glacier sliding down through the middle of the frame.
October was month of sunsets. One of these has been taken from Okarito lookout. Image overlooks the Three Mile Lagoon and leads your eye further along the coast south. Great skies made the frame.
In November I travelled a little north along the West Coast, to Punakaiki. This great location is famous for its “Pancake Rocks” and fabulous coastline. This image has quite common and popular framing of the location but despite that I pick this image because I like the light and sky in it. It’s been very windy evening and clouds were chasing each other and when the sun sinked below the horizon, it threw its last rays onto those clouds and gave us one more opportunity to make an image.
Lastly, in December I went with my friend for several days into the wilderness. We hiked toward the Copland Pass in the Southern Alps and needless to say, the trip was just brilliant. Not only we had a great swim in freezing cold waters of Copland River on scorchingly hot day but we came home with some great imagery, as well.
One of my favourite frames from the trip is this panorama of the Copland River.
Franz Josef Glacier is hugely popular to all kinds of visitors. And that’s no wonder, when one realizes the facets this stunning piece of Mother Nature’s work has on offer.
Besides its pure, mesmerizing blue, translucent beauty hitting us from every direction, Franz Josef Glacier has also its rough face, challenging many people with its ice climbing opportunities.
The characteristics of this icy beast, combined with comfortable access, make this very easily possible. The steep and narrow valley works as a funnel into which Franz Josef slides from almost 3.000m above sea level. Once the body of ice gets into lower, steep and uneven valley floor, massive waves of ice are formed. These waves can be as high as 15-20 m and just scream to be climbed…and there is always plenty of those who can hear the call!
By the end of the last year’s winter, we had a lot of fun. With our still photography we were covering an exciting promo project of the Glacier Country in New Zealand – Rugby Match on Fox Glacier Neve. This project offers an opportunity to win NZ$50.000 price package in a Glacier Country Rugby Competition. For details please go to – glaciercountry.co.nz
On this project we worked alongside of a great film maker from Auckland, (more…)
When do we call a chunk of ice a glacier? Usually, the ice mass has to be at least 100m x 100m in size and needs to show some signs of a present or past movement.
Generally, glaciers are divided into two main groups – Ice Sheets and Valley Glaciers, each with several sub-types.
Ice Sheets or Continental Glaciers are the largest masses of ice on Earth spreading over 50,000 square kilometres with the depth of ice sometimes more than 4,200m. They are only found in Antarctica and Greenland. Ice Shelves are floating extensions (more…)
The most destructive and powerful hand of Mother Nature lies, arguably, in the cryosphere. We may not see it doing much immediate damage, but by observing the landscape we can see enormous changes in our environment caused by glaciers. One of the very typical and most visible footprints glaciers leave behind are our, often ice free, valleys. Entire mountainsides were remodeled by
If the current average temperature were just 4° C lower, we would be living in an ice age. During the last, 18, 000 years ago, Franz Josef Glacier stretched its tongue some 10km beyond the present coast line. In this period the sea level was around 100m lower than today, as an immense amount of water was locked up in the glaciers all around the world. On the West Coast there were (more…)
As with all the rest of the glaciated world, New Zealand is also losing ice mass at a rapid rate, with 61% lost since 1850 (Hoelzle et al. 2007), and 11% in the last 30 years (T. Chinn, pers. comm.).
Most of this loss is from the large glaciers calving into pro-glacial lakes, such as the Tasman Glacier. This lake formation is the result of glacier thinning in response to climatic warming in the 20th century. As well as these large dynamic changes in glacier volume, there are smaller annual changes in volume due to changes in the amount of snow accumulation and snow and ice melt. An idea of how much mass is lost or gained each year throughout the Southern Alps is given by measurements of the end-of-summer snowlines since 1977. These measurement indicate that there have been positive mass balances at times during this period balance (Chinn et al. 2008) and the very sensitive and responsive Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers have advanced as a result.
The advance of Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere Franz Josef Glacier since 1984 has been extraordinary given the global pattern of receeding glaciers during this period. Recent work (more…)
The ice flow of a glacier is divided into two types, internal deformation and basal sliding. Internal deformation is movement of parts of the glacier relative to itself. Throughout the descent of the glacier, the ice at the sides and bottom side of the glacier are subject to more friction from the valley floor and walls, and therefore forced to move at a slower rate than the ice in the centre of the glacier. As a result (more…)
The Franz Josef Glacier is one of the fastest moving glaciers on Earth. Unlike most of glacier in the world the Franz Josef Glacier travels down very steep slopes of the Southern Alps. In the upper and very steep parts of the glacier, where the ice in the huge neve is squeezed into a narrow valley, the ice can move up to 5m each day during period of advance. (more…)
New Zealand owes its stunning beauty to its location on Earth. This applies particularly well to the West Coast of the South Island. Due to the predominant weather patterns in this part of the globe, the South Island faces the weather sweeping in as a persistent westerly airstream from the Tasman Sea. Moisture laden clouds brought in by these westerly winds have a gigantic barrier in their way – The Southern Alps. The Alps force the clouds to climb into higher and colder altitudes so the clouds finally give up and release the moisture in form of rain, and around the Main Divide as snow. The annual precipitation on the West Coast reaches 16 meters in places, making the West Coast one of the wettest places on Earth.
One of the most striking forms of evidence of glacial erosion is the colour of rivers like the Waiho River in Franz Josef. The melt water of the river gains a characteristic greyish colour, sometimes known as glacier milk. This is the result of the suspension of very fine grains of rock <0.002mm in size. These particles are called glacial flour and are the result of a type of glacial erosion known as abrasion. The abrasion occurs where the glacier slides over bedrock and works much like sandpaper, as rock fragments meet at the boundary of rock and ice they grind and smooth the surface below. If a large rock is trapped, large grooves or glacial striations are engraved into valley walls and bedrock.
Another major type of erosion is known as plucking. When the ice slides over the downstream side of the bedrock, it can freeze loosened rocks from the bottom into itself and rips the rocks out from the valley floor and walls, changing its shape forever.
The unique environment of Westland National Park is responsible for the formation of the local glaciers. These powerful remnants of an ice age manage to survive warming temperatures due to the very special weather conditions on the West Coast of the South Island. Up to 16 metres of precipitation falls on the tops of the Southern Alps every year, most of it falling as snow. This massive amount of snow (more…)