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Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier, West Coast 7886, New Zealand
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Heli-Hiking Adventure on Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand Westland National Park  New Zealand
The Glacier of Legends Westland National Park  New Zealand
Exploring Franz Josef Glacier Westland National Park  New Zealand
Kayak Beside Franz Josef Glacier Westland National Park  New Zealand
Big Ice Westland National Park  New Zealand
Flightseeing Over Franz Josef Glacier Westland National Park  New Zealand
Heli-Hiking Adventure on Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand Westland National Park  New Zealand
The Glacier of Legends Westland National Park  New Zealand
Exploring Franz Josef Glacier Westland National Park  New Zealand
Kayak Beside Franz Josef Glacier Westland National Park  New Zealand
Big Ice Westland National Park  New Zealand
Flightseeing Over Franz Josef Glacier Westland National Park  New Zealand

Heli-Hiking Adventure on Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand

I was a glacier virgin. I had never seen one in person before, much less set foot on one. That all changed though as the helicopter lifted off and took off towards the incredible Franz Josef Glacier on New Zealand’s South Island. Almost as soon as the Glacier Helicopters flight lifted off, Mt. Cook popped into view, a looming presence throughout the area. We skirted over the lush rainforest and before I knew it, we were on top of the glacier. It’s amazing really; the glacier looks exactly like a glacier should look. It was a vast, frozen river leading from the tops of the mountains to the valley below. We landed at the top for a little exploration and impromptu snowball fights before taking off again to zoom past the massive crevices of the ice mountain. The ride back included even more impressive views of the glacier and the flat plains below leading to the Tasman Sea. It really is strange to see the glacier adjacent to the mild valley below. There’s something surreal about it all and that makes it one of the best adventure activities in New Zealand. For your own glacier adventure, visit the small mountain town of Franz Josef where you can find tour providers operating a variety of ice-based activities, including these extraordinary helicopter tours.

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AFAR Local Expert
over 5 years ago

The Glacier of Legends

Brace yourself for the physical pull you'll feel as you approach the dramatic, 7.5 mile long glacier named Franz Josef, in Westland National Park in New Zealand. Together with the nearby 12 mile long Fox Glacier, you'll be astounded by this unique topography only 900 feet above sea level that is set in a temperate rainforest. How is that even possible?! It's easy to see why this is now a part of a World Heritage Site park. The glacier was named after Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria by the German explorer, Julius von Haast in 1865. The Māori name for the glacier is Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere and means 'the tears of Hinehukatere'. According to Maori legend, Hinehukatere loved climbing in the mountains and persuaded her lover, Wawe, to climb with her. An avalanche swept Wawe from the peaks to his death and Hinehukatere was broken hearted. Her many, many tears flowed down the mountain and froze to form the glacier.
AFAR Local Expert
over 5 years ago

Exploring Franz Josef Glacier

If there is one activity not to be missed in New Zealand, it's getting to explore Franz Josef Glacier in the South Island. One of the only glaciers in the world that drops down into a temperate rainforest, Franz Josef is a wonder to behold. The blue ice twinkles in whatever light, surrounded by lush mountains and sweeping views. This chunk of the South Island is guaranteed to blow you away. Drastically changing, the facade of the glacier broke away a few years ago, and now one of the only ways to get on the ice is by helicopter. Whether you want to view the glacier from the skies, go for a hike, or even learn to ice climb, there are tons of activities to chose from.
AFAR Local Expert
over 5 years ago

Kayak Beside Franz Josef Glacier

While Franz Josef Glacier is impressive and definitely warrants being explored on its own or from the skies, nearby sits the magnificent Lake Mapourika. In the morning it sits so still, its reflection is like a mirror of the towering glaciers and peaks above, creating the perfect photograph. At sunset, one of the best activities in the area is to go on a kayak tour of the lake, taking in all of the nature and wildlife along the shores and creeks. Paddling back to the dock, you'll pass in front of the incredible mountains, giving some of the best views in the area.
over 5 years ago

Big Ice

How far will we go? What kind of risks will we take--those of us who seek to see the world, to experience its diversity, to share and remember our experiences through our photos? Apparently to the ends of the Earth, like these two, stepping carefully atop the Franz Josef Glacier, camera equipment in tow, taking care to avoid falling off icy precipices or into crevasses along their precarious path, aiming to get the best possible shot. At least I guess that’s what they were up to. I know that’s what I was thinking when I got there and headed upward. They came into the picture and provided just what I needed, a way to show how small we are compared to big ice.
Family Travel Correspondent
over 5 years ago

Flightseeing Over Franz Josef Glacier

The village of Franz Josef is home to one of only three glaciers in the world that meets a temperate rain forest. In fact, it almost reaches the ocean. One of the others, Fox Glacier, is just 12 kilometers down the road. To make our visit memorable, we treated ourselves with the ultimate way to experience these imposing ice flows: a 40-minute aerial “flightseeing” tour over Westland National Park, which included a loop past Mt. Cook, the largest in the country. Simply put, it was spectacular and easily one of the highlights of New Zealand. And in a country with so much awe-inspiring natural wonder, that’s saying a lot.