Tasman Glacier Terminal Moraine

Accessibility: MODERATE
The moraine on the edge of Tasman Lake, J.Thomson @ GNS Science
The terminal moraine marks the furthest reach of the glacier during the 'Little Ice Age' that peaked in the mid 19th century. SInce that time the surface of the ice has lowered and the formation of the lake in the mid 1970s accelerated the loss of ice and retreat of the terminus.
Tasman Lake viewpoint, J.Thomson @ GNS Science
In the 19th Century the level of the glacier ice was well above the height of the moraine. The boulders dropped off the edge of the glacier having been transported up to 29kms from the head of the valley or one of its tributaries. The chaotic piles of rock fragments and larger boulders will have fallen onto the ice from the surrounding mountains and been carried on the surface of the moving ice. Due to recent retreat of the glacier and expansion of the lake, these moraines are no longer accumulating. There are areas of isolated 'dead ice' under parts of the moraine towards the lake. This is ice that is no longer moving and is protected from melting by the thick overlying rock cover.
Tasman Lake and terminal moraine from the air, J.Thomson @ GNS Science
From the top of the moraine above the blue lakes, there is a great overview of distant high peaks, and the expansive Tasman Lake. Icebergs calve off the terminal ice face that is about 6 kms distant (in 2016). On either side of the lake you can see the lateral moraine walls that have also been increasingly exposed as the glacier surface has been lowering since the peak of the Little Ice Age (LIA) in the mid 19th Century.

Follow the road to the Tasman Valley, a few minutes out of Mount Cook village, and park at the blue lakes car park (where there are toilets and a public shelter). Follow the track past the blue lakes and keep climbing to obvious viewing area at the top of the hill.

If you decide to explore the moraine below the viewpoint, take care as it is very steep and many of the large rocks are unstable. It is about a half hour scramble along the moraine to the Glacier Explorers boat landing to the south east, from where you can loop back to the car park on a well formed track.

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Accessibility: MODERATE

It is a steep track with steps that will take about 15 minutes.

Sedimentary Landform
Geological Age
Holocene. formed over the last few hundred years
Zealandia Evolution Sequence
Pākihi Supergoup: 5 million years ago – present