Located in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, Franz Josef Glacier is a popular tourist attraction and holiday destination. Franz Josef Glacier holidays offer an insight into the incredible natural attraction of the 12km long glacier, with several ways to experience Franz Josef, including self-guided walks of the perimeter of the glacier, hikes through bushland to the viewing points, guided walks complete with ice-climbing equipment or see the glacier from above on a small place or scenic helicopter flight.
This Franz Josef Glacier travel guide is designed to help you make the most of your time at this spectacular alpine destination. Surrounded by breathtaking scenery, the Franz Josef Glacier is located just 6km from the centre of the local village and descends from the top of the Southern Alps down into rainforest almost at sea level, offering an incredibly rare opportunity to visit one of the world’s most easily accessible and dynamic glaciers in a temperate climate just off the main highway. Explore ancient river valleys and experience the sheer, overwhelming yet humbling enormity of Franz Josef Glacier and study the huge horizontal scars the steep sides bear which detail the way the glacier has advanced and retreated over millions of years.
There is a variety of Franz Josef Glacier accommodation available both right by the glacier itself as well as a short distance away in the actual village nearby. For ski tourers, mountain climbers and hot pool hikers, there are a selection of alpine huts situated within the Westland Tai Poutini National Park provided by the Department of Conservation known as Serviced Alpine DOC hikers’ huts. However you will also find a full range of accommodation in town ranging from 3 stars to 5 stars and everything in between including affordable lodges, comfortable motels, modern hotels and luxury stays, all within convenient distance of a variety of shopping, dining, activities and attractions. Book cheap Accommodation in Franz Josef Glacier
Although Franz Josef Glacier is an attraction in its own right, there are also a number of other attractions located within a short distance, meaning you can stay a little longer to fully experience the beauty of this unique natural attraction. Within minutes of the village you’ll discover guided and self-guided walks of varying length, cycleways, kayaking and adventure activities such as rafting and skydiving as well as a white heron colony, and the rarest kiwi bird in the world. 10 minutes north, stunning Lake Mapourika offers excellent birdwatching, fishing and kayaking while another 10 minutes north offers Ōkārito Lagoon, the largest estuarine lagoon in New Zealand and a haven for coastal birdlife and nature walks. There’s also the Tatare Tunnels Walk offering fantastic views of the Tatare Gorge as well as the option of exploring the tunnels.
Measuring 12km long, Franz Josef Glacier plummets 2.6km from the peaks of the Southern Alps and is fed by 4 alpine glaciers which receive approximately 30m of snow annually. Compacting at the top of the glacier, the snow transforms into blue ice hundreds of metres deep which slides downhill to the river valley where it remains 300m thick. Ice under pressure between the steep valley floor and glacier melts, making Franz Josef Glacier one of the fastest flowing valley glaciers, flowing around 10 times faster than most valley glaciers.