Exploring Franz Josef Glacier


Franz Josef, New Zealand. A village in New Zealand’s West Coast known for it’s glacier.

I wanted to spend time near the mountains before leaving my year in New Zealand behind so I stayed in Franz Josef for a month working for accommodation at one of the hostels there. This gave me enough time to explore the glacier in every way possible.

Option 1:I first walked out to Franz Josef Glacier. It took about an hour to get to the car park and then another 1.5 hours in the valley. This is the free way to see the glacier but you can’t actually get to walk on or touch the glacier. It’s unsafe to do so and there are ropes telling you when to stop.

Option 2: But if you want to get closer there is the option of a scenic helicopter ride. They will fly over the different glacier in the Southern Alps and lands on a snow field on top of Fox Glacier. This is not only a great way to get a better view of the glaciers, but also just to see the mountains. I am a huge fan of mountains and found myself more interested in the mountains rather than the glaciers.

Option 3: The final (and in my opinion, the best) way is to take a guided tour. This tour will get you walking on and through Franz Josef Glacier. It’s about a 3 hour walk and you get to really explore the glacier in all its glory. It wasn’t very strenuous or action packed but there were moments of ducking and crawling through the ice formations. The guide was incredible – friendly, informative, and helpful. There was a lot of activity on the glacier the day I went and we spent 5-10 minutes just listening and waiting for an avalanche (which we did see, although it was only a little one). I really enjoyed my Franz Josef Glacier Guide experience and while it costs a fair bit, I’d say it’s worth the money.

Have you been to Franz Josef and explore the Franz Josef Glacier? After my time there, I’m ready to explore more glaciers around the world!

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