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Greymouth to Hokitika: West Coast Road Trip

Franz Josef

Franz Josef Glacier @jackmanchiu Franz Josef Glacier @jackmanchiu

A village that grew on the back of tourism is surrounded by dense forest with the Alps in the background. The major attraction the Franz Josef glacier can be accessed on walking tracks, heli-hike tours or viewed on an aerial flight.

Franz Josef Glacier @sebastiengoldberg

TIP

Glacial Walk

Walking to the glacier will not include views of the glacier itself or will walkers view the characteristic blue tinted canyons and cliffs of ice. The walk is through glacial moraine, large boulders and rocks left behind as the glacier retreats. It is the equivalent of a glacial gravel pit. Although it is completely natural with waterfall flows and melted ice runoff it is not particularly scenic. The walk is suitable for kids as it is a flat, easy walk.

The track is occasionally closed due to rain and rockfall. The safety notices are regularly updated at the beginning of the track. The track starts in regenerating forest then follows the river bed and glacial moraine. Walkers are instructed to follow markers and cairns and use walking poles when fording streams.

Highlights

  • Massive boulders left by the receding glacier
  • The raw mountain environment and the sheer strength of a glacier to cut its way through a valley

Bucket list journeys should include

Aerial flights or heli-guided glacier tours. It is not always going to be possible to view Franz Josef glacier as it is melting rapidly.

For more information about what to see and do at Franz Josef Village check Glacier Country: Franz Josef and Fox Glacier.

Franz Josef Glacier crampons hike through the blue glacier ice
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