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There are more than 60 glaciers in the Westland/Tai Poutini National Park. Two of them - the Fox and the Franz Josef - are the only glaciers in the world to flow down to temperate rainforest.
The glaciers stem from snowfields high in the Southern Alps, but Maori legend explains their existence more poetically. It is said that a beautiful girl named Hinehukatere loved the mountains in this park and encouraged her lover, Tawe, to climb them with her. He slipped and fell to his death and Hinehukatere's tears formed the glaciers. The area is known as "Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere" - the tears of the avalanche girl.
For many travellers, the fast-moving Fox and Franz Josef glaciers are the primary reason to visit. They move up to four metres every day, which in the glacier world is uncommonly rapid (the Tasman Glacier, on the eastern side of the great divide, moves at only 650 millimetres a day). At the foot of each glacier, you can hear the grinding, crushing sounds of ancient ice forcing itself down the time-worn valleys.
Between the glaciers and the sea, the park is a bird watcher's paradise. Rainforest and large areas of wetland shelter rare species such as the Okarito Brown Kiwi, Southern Crested Grebe (kamana) and White Heron (kotuku).