Walking to Franz Joseph Glacier, New Zealand

Franz Joseph Glacier, New Zealand

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.

A waterfall at Franz Joseph Glacier, New Zealand

A waterfall in the valley

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.

Franz Joseph Glacier, New Zealand

Getting closer to Franz Joseph Glacier

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.

Franz Joseph Glacier, New Zealand

Getting close to the face of the glacier

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.

Franz Joseph Glacier, New Zealand

A group of people standing at the face of the glacier

Franz Joseph Glacier, New Zealand

Up close with Franz Joseph Glacier

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.

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17 comments… add one
  • Wow you are lucky to have been able to visit both glaciers! We did the full day hike on Fox and it was amazing!
    Jade – OurOyster.com recently posted..5 Things You Must Do In Wellington Summer EditionMy Profile

    • Dean Wickham Jan 24, 2012

      Hi Jade, I was lucky enough to visit several glaciers while I was in New Zealand. That was the great thing about travelling the country in a camper van and with plenty of time, I could go where ever I wanted! Hiking on Fox Glacier was one of the best experiences I’ve had, I’m glad you enjoyed it too 🙂 Cheers

  • Anne H Jan 25, 2012

    Exactly the piece of information I was looking for! Thanks so much , we are planning a trip to New Zeeland soon and this article helps us a lot.

  • I just saw (and posted about) seeing a glacier for the first time in Patagonia. Such a cool experience! Hoping to explore more.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Welcome to El ChaltenMy Profile

  • Great shots! Franz Joseph Glacier is beautiful. We went in the chilly rain– looks like your weather was a bit better 🙂
    Leslie (Downtown Traveler) recently posted..Where to ski in Salt Lake City: Insider tips from a Utah skierMy Profile

  • cheryl Jan 28, 2012

    Wow, sooo pretty! hope to be lucky enough to do this one day myself.

  • Nomadic Samuel Jan 30, 2012

    I love the rugged scenery here!
    Nomadic Samuel recently posted..Mayan Lesson: Coba, Mexico | Sonia’s TravelsMy Profile

  • Dean Wickham Jan 30, 2012

    Hey Samuel, there is a lot of scenery like this in New Zealand. It’s one of the most beautiful and diverse places I have ever been.
    Dean Wickham recently posted..Photo of the week: Queen Mary Falls, AustraliaMy Profile

  • alyssa carter Apr 20, 2012

    Very nice place. I will not be tired of going back to that place. The only thing I don’t want in New Zealand is that… It’s really, really cold. You should be ready and complete with your winter clothes for you to survive there.
    alyssa carter recently posted..MSDSonline Teams up with ASSE and Jennifer Silk for GHS Webinar on April 19My Profile

    • Dean Wickham Apr 21, 2012

      Hi Alyssa. It definitely does get pretty cold in New Zealand during the Winter. In the Summer the temperature is beautiful and is a good time to explore the glaciers.
      Dean Wickham recently posted..Photos of Rome, ItalyMy Profile

  • BABY ABRAHAM Jan 20, 2018

    Our family had gone to see this glacier about thirty five years ago . It was such a magnificent sight . We did not take the helicopter flight but really enjoyed the glacier. If he glacier is receding fast, there is an option as the construction of the ‘ ICE STUPAS ” THAT ARE MADE IN THE LADAKH REGION OF iNDIS IN THE HIMALAYAN AREA . They are made by spray fountains and the water particles just crystalizes in the cold winds and solidify in the frame work formed by tree branches or by galvonized iron pipes or PVC Pipes . Slowly it builds up into small ice mountains and with patience and vigilance we can build them up into voluminous large ones . They can be in clusters or in straight line or dispersed all over the area where water is easily available now. In the long run these manmade ice mountains can make a remarkable difference difference in the temperature which in turn will reduce the acceleration of the melting of the ice. Slowly the depleted layers of ice will return to cover and envelop the mountain ranges and the glaciers especially. Let us recapture the beauty, magnificence and majesty of all the glaciers. Let us keep New Zealand pristine and magnificent as we always used to say ” most of the land is just as pristine , untouched by man , as it was ,when it was created in the beginning !! The Himalayan, ” Ladakh ice stupas ” can be seen on the web in u tube . They are simple but quiet a novelty .

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