Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier


Nestled in the mountainous terrain of New Zealand’s South Island, Franz Josef Glacier is one of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders. For centuries, the glacier has been an iconic feature of the landscape, drawing thousands of visitors each year to witness its powerful beauty. From hiking to heli-hiking, skiing to snowboarding, Franz Josef Glacier offers a range of activities for all levels of adventure-seekers. In this article, we explore the history, geography, and activities available at Franz Josef Glacier.


A Brief History of Franz Josef Glacier

The Franz Josef Glacier has been a part of the landscape of the South Island since the last Ice Age. It is named after the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I, and was first sighted by explorer Julius von Haast in 1865. Since then, the glacier has been closely monitored, with the longest measurement recorded in 2008. The glacier has been gradually shrinking since then, but still covers 135 square kilometres (52 square miles) of the Southern Alps.


Location and Overview

Franz Josef Glacier is located in the Westland National Park, near the township of Franz Josef. The glacier flows down the flanks of Mt Cook and Mt Tasman, New Zealand’s two highest mountains. It starts at an altitude of 2,700 metres (8,900 feet) and descends to just 240 metres (800 feet) above sea level. The glacier is a popular tourist attraction, with visitors coming from all over the world to experience its unique beauty and activities.


Activities Available at Franz Josef Glacier

There are a variety of activities available for visitors to Franz Josef Glacier. For those looking to explore the glacier on foot, there are guided walking tours with experienced guides who will take you to areas of the glacier that are safe and accessible.

For those looking for a more adventurous experience, there is heli-hiking. This activity involves flying to the top of the glacier, where you can disembark and explore its remote and pristine beauty.

For skiers and snowboarders, the glacier offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world. With its long, wide slopes and deep snow, the glacier is a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts.

For those looking for a more relaxed experience, thee are scenic flights over the glacier, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape.


Safety at Franz Josef Glacier

It is important to note that the terrain around Franz Josef Glacier is both unpredictable and dangerous. Visitors should always be accompanied by experienced, knowledgeable guides when exploring the glacier, as it is easy to get lost or injured when exploring the area on foot.



Franz Josef Glacier is one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders in the world. From guided walking tours to heli-hiking, skiing, snowboarding, and scenic flights, there is something for all levels of adventure-seekers. However, it is important to remember that the terrain around the glacier is both unpredictable and dangerous, so visitors should always be accompanied by experienced, knowledgeable guides.

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