Franz Josef Glacier

A majestic and awe-inspiring spot to visit

If you are an adventure buff, love being in close contact with nature, and want to explore one of the only 3 glaciers in the world that descend into a temperate rain forest, then a visit to the Franz Josef Glacier is a must. One of the steepest glaciers in New Zealand, the Franz Josef Glacier is known for some absolutely stunning features, including ice caves, seracs, tunnels and crevasses. The glacier moves faster than most glaciers in the world, moving up to 50 cms in a day. Moving at this speed also means that all the features like caves, tunnels and others are constantly evolving, meaning that more often than not, they don’t look the same for more than two days in a row. This 12 km long glacier attracts over 2,50,000 tourists every year, with most people wishing to take a hike into its enthralling depths. You surely should consider adding your name to the list!

Location:

Address: Westland Tai Poutini National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Tel: +64 3 752 0763

Hours: There are no specific hours for visiting the glacier

Timings:

Franz Josef Glacier is open for visiting around the year, as the place does not experience harsh weather conditions even in the winter months. There are no time restrictions for walking to the base of the glacier. However, since one can scale the glacier only on a guided tour or in a helicopter, the timings for those tours vary depending on the operators. 

Highlights:

  • Take a 3-hour heli-hike tour across the surface of the glacier to explore the finest things about it.
  • A glacier valley walk is sure to appeal to the travellers who want to experience pristine beauty without getting too adventurous. 
  • Get right to the top of the glacier and make an elegant landing in the snow.
  • Grab the perfect cup of coffee at one of the cosy cafes at the base of the glacier
  • Take a wildlife tour in the area and get a chance to witness one of the rarest species of Kiwis, Okarito Rowi.
  • You can also take a tour of the farmlands and valley on horseback. 
  • On the way to the glacier from Franz Josef town, stop and take a walk on the swinging bridge and witness the splendid view of the valley.
  • Experience the unparalleled thrill of skydiving from over 18,000 feet above the glacier. 
  • After the cold experience of hiking up the glacier, take a dip in the glacier hot pools in the Franz Josef town.
  • Take a kayak tour in the Lake Mapourika and paddle up into the Kiwi sanctuary. 
  • Hit the town for a fun nightlife experience, with dancing, music, great food and a lot more!

Inclusions:

You can take one of the several packages available for a visit to the Franz Josef Glacier. The packages are created to suit the requirements of different kinds of travellers, with curated experiences like hiking to the glaciers, taking nature walks along the valley, exploring Franz Josef town, experiencing the beautiful nature and wildlife in the rainforest and national park. 

Price:

The costs for different experiences when visiting the Franz Josef Glacier can range anywhere between NZ $ 30 and NZ $ 1000. A dip in the glacier hot pools can cost as low as NZ $ 30. The guided hiking tours of the glacier start from somewhere around NZ $ 100 and go all the way up to NZ $ 1000, depending on the heights to be scaled. The skydiving experiences are generally priced in the NZ $ 500 range, as are the helicopter tours of the glaciers. 

Recommended for:

From the long hikes up to the glacier, to the glacier hot pools, from the amazing skydiving experiences to the kayak tours in the lakes, a trip to the Franz Josef Glacier and the surrounding area is recommended for countless things. 

How to reach Franz Josef Glacier:

One can drive up to the Franz Josef Glacier town, with the area situated at a 2-hour drive from Hokitika and a 4 hour and 30 minutes’ drive from Queenstown and Christchurch. 

About Franz Josef Glacier:

Franz Josef Glacier, and the small town based near the base of the glacier, combine to offer a truly exquisite trip in the lap of nature. The pristine white surroundings while taking a heli-hike across the length of the glacier offer a heavenly experience while the helicopter tours of the glacier and the surrounding areas let you take in the striking scenery from a brilliant vantage point. The entire area can be categorised based on the kinds of experiences on offer:

Glacier Exploration

  • Heli-Hiking tours - Takes you up to the glacier where you can indulge in a 2.5 hours’ hike through the picturesque caves, tunnels and crevasses. 
  • Helicopter explorations- Lets you experience the wonderful scenery of the glacier and also makes a landing right on top of the glacier. 
  • Glacier valley exploration – A walk to the base of the glacier and in the valley around it, for the travellers who don’t want to get too close to the ice.

Wildlife Exploration

  • West Coast Wildlife Centre – The home to a rare Kiwi species, known as the Okarito Rowi. A backstage pass when visiting the centre can let you witness the kiwis fairly up-close. 
  • Horseback Rides – Visitors to the area can take horseback rides across the farmlands and the forest regions to witness the magnificence of nature all around them.
  • Kayak Tours – Another way to explore nature and wildlife in the Franz Josef region is to paddle around the Lake Mapourika. Paddling up one of the inlets can also take you to the Kiwi sanctuary where you get to visit the super-cute flightless birds. 

Town Life

  • Glacier Hot Pools – An experience like no other, a dip in these hot pools is perfect to relieve the body of the cold from the glacier. 
  • Okarito Beach – An immaculate west coast beach, that tails into a lagoon that is also called Okarito. 
  • Nightlife – The town is quite famous for its nightlife, with places like Snake Bite Brewery and The Landing Bar being among the biggest crowd pullers. 

Interesting Facts about Franz Josef Glacier:

  • The Glacier is known to move faster than most glaciers in the world, with its fastest speed recorded at 4 metres in a single day!
  • Discovered by German explorer Julius von Haast in 1865, the glacier was named after the then Austrian emperor Franz Joseph the First.
  • According to glaciologists, the Franz Joseph Glacier is on track to shrink by about 38% by the year 2100, all due to the dangerous effects of global warming. 

Can’t wait to take multiple pictures of this glacier? Check out our travel packages and plan your trip today!

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