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Franz Josef Glacier

Listed under Frozen Landscapes in South Island, New Zealand.

Photo of Franz Josef Glacier
Photo by flickr user PhillipC
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The best known of New Zealand’s glaciers there are many ways to experience Franz Josef; by helicopter, on foot or admired from a distance seem to be the most common. Its foot descends into the temperate rainforests of Westland National Park from 240 metres above sea level to only 2700 in under 12kms. Franz Josef is exciting by glacial standards with a recorded top speed of up to 70cms a day. For those wanting to walk on it the first section involving mounting the glacier and reaching the first icefall (like a frozen waterfall) is the most strenuous. Between the first and second icefalls you’re walking on the broken ice of the glacial flow so it’s constantly changing, sometimes tunnels open up allowing you to walk inside the glacier, sometimes there are deep chasms and dangerous cracks. Most helicopter tours will drop you off here and allow you to wander atop the ice, however you get there you’ll be stunned by the views, you can clearly see the river of ice drop beneath you.

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Written by  Andy Kinght.

Other expert and press reviews

“Heli-Hiking Franz Joseph Glacier”

Given the 4-hour half-day glacier hikes seemed lame, I opted to upgrade to a heli-hike. Basically, you get a scenic helicopter ride up the glacier (higher than where the regular hikes go), hike around for 1.5 hours, and then get a ride back down. I had … Read more...

Written by  David Lee. Continue reading on

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