The Franz Josef Glacier Hike is rated one of the top activities to do in New Zealand. Franz Josef Glacier Guides invited me along to see what the fuss was about!
Let’s give you a bit of background. Franz Josef is a 12km Glacier located in Westland National Park on the west coast of New Zealand’s south island. Franz Josef terminates 19km from the Tasman Sea and 300m above sea level. It is one of the few glaciers in New Zealand still growing. Franz Josef is a major tourist attraction on the West Coast. A quarter of a million visitors a year can’t be wrong!
Franz Josef Glacier Guides offer five options:
- Glacier Valley Walk
- Half Day Glacier Experience
- Full Day Glacier Adventure
- Ice Climbing
The company really do well to offer various packages to suit different levels of ability and cost. I went along on the Full Day Glacier Adventure.
There was a large group doing the full day and we were split into five groups. One being for those who were the fittest. You should know by know that I always like to do things the hard way. However, due to a pre-existing injury I was advised against going into group one. This actually worked to my advantage. I ended up in group three which meant that the pace was rather comfortable and I had plenty of time to stop and take far too many photos! If you are concerned about your ability or not sure which option would be suitable just pop into their office. They were really helpful in discussing it all with me.
The initial walk is through the valley which is rather easy and the excitement builds as you draw closer to the looming glacier. There is a slightly steep climb right before the Glacier but it really didn’t cause anyone any trouble and you go at an easy pace. Just before the ice, you stick on your crampons (spikes that go on over your boots) and then you are away!
It’s strange to be in such an environment. One minute you are walking on rocks and the next you feel like you are in Antarctica. It’s not as difficult as you might think. Wearing the crampons makes it relatively easy to get around on the ice. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to take some incredible photos which are all the more impressive with the stunning ice backdrops.
Our guide was pretty good at reading the group. We never rushed but we didn’t hang around either. He was also particularly knowledgeable. I wasn’t deliberately being a pain, I just had a lot of questions like an inquisitive five year old. He was able to answer everything I threw at him.
Is this tour for you? If you can walk then yes it is. I loved it and I also love the photos I have from the trip. I would highly recommend the Full Day Hike. Our guide pointed out where the Half Day Hike went to. Although you get to reach the ice you definitely get better value for money doing the Full Day. So unless you are strapped for time, the Full Day hike is a must.
This trip was sponsored by Franz Josef Glacier Guides.