After my exciting Helihike on Fox Glacier the day before, I continued my journey north along the rugged West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Not far north of Fox Glacier, another makes it’s way down the west side of the Southern Alps, Franz Joseph Glacier, which I had heard was just as spectacular.
I had hiked around on top of Fox Glacier, so at Franz Joseph Glacier I decided to walk up to the face of it instead.
Parking the camping van in the nearby car park, I began the walk along the rocky glacial formed valley that leads to the glacier. The typical stunning scenery that I was now used to seeing in New Zealand didn’t disappoint, with the tall steep cliffs of the valley rising up to snow capped peaks above me, and waterfalls cascading down them.
Franz Joseph Glacier was in view almost immediately, and although it looked quite small from a distance, I knew that it would grow to tower over me as I got closer.
The threatening rain clouds that often occupy the sky on the West Coast remained above me, but held off for now. After some time walking along the rocky path, I turned a corner and found myself staring at the face of Franz Joseph, the huge chunk of ice rising up above me.
Walking up to it’s face I looked up in awe. I had a similar feeling the day before on Fox Glacier, however standing right in front of it, in the path of this ice river, I couldn’t help but feel slightly overwhelmed by the pure power that the glacier holds. Up close it is huge, making a person feel tiny. This very glacier has the power to carve a valley out of a mountain.
I have always had a fascination with glaciers. There is something very beautiful and powerful about them, and walking up to the face of one and actually setting foot on one is an incredible experience.
Like many places in the world, New Zealand’s glaciers are receding at a rapid rate, so get out and see them while they’re still there in all their glory.