Meet the Tasman Glacier, the longest temperate glacier in the southern hemisphere.

The South Island of New Zealand is unique for a temperate climate zone in that the glaciers here come almost to sea level. The Tasman is the longest temperate glacier in the Southern Hemisphere.

There are approximately 178 separate glaciers in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. The two main systems are the Tasman and the Godley.

Two million years of history

The Tasman Glacier's story goes back 2 million years - to the Pleistocene ice ages. The glacier has advanced and retreated several times, leaving behind great moraine deposits, and carving out Lake Pukaki.
 

Cross section of  the Tasman Glacier.  Image © Department of Conservation

Cross section of  the Tasman Glacier.  Image © Department of Conservation

Tasman Glacier statistics:

  • 23 km long
  • 600 metres deep (nearly 2,000 ft) in the middle, and 200 metres deep at the nevé
  • An average width of 1.6 km (a mile)
  • Average daily surface motion 35-40 cm (over a foot)
  • Annual snowfall depth at the nevé - up to 70 metres!
The growing Tasman Terminal Lake

The growing Tasman Terminal Lake

Climate Change and the Tasman Glacier

Over recent years the effects of climate change on the Tasman Glacier are evident. The growing terminal lake, and increasing amounts of moraine on the lower glacier are the most obvious signs.

Scientists from GNS New Zealand have been surveying the Tasman, the surrounding mountains, and other glaciers. Read about their work on the GNS website →