Franz Josef Glacier West Coast NZ
About Franz Josef
Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier (less than 30 kilometres apart) are two of just a few glaciers outside the Arctic and Antarctic regions which flow to just 300 metres above sea level – making them more easily accessible to visitors who are not experienced climbers.
Found in South Westland, on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, these slow moving ice rivers start high in the Southern Alps. Snow falling in the Alps is slowly compressed then solidifies into ice, which eventually begins to flow downhill. The glaciers carry not only ice, but also giant boulders as they push their way down the valley.
It may take hundreds (or even thousands) of years for the ice to make its journey from the summits to the valley floor, shaping the landscape around it as it moves.
Many visitors to the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers may not realise how rapidly these seemingly permanent ice structures can actually move.
For safety reasons, tourists are restricted from getting too close to the terminal face of the glacier, as large chunks of ice frequently fall, bringing down rocks and presenting a serious potential danger. Please adhere to all safety signs and regulations issued by the Department of Conservation.
Both Fox and Franz Josef have a number of businesses with experienced guides who are able to take tourists safely up the valley and onto the glacier, as well as companies who run guided helicopter trips to land on the glaciers, so you can experience these amazing forces of nature close up.
To find out more about Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, and plan your trip to the region, visit the New Zealand Department of Conservation website.
Franz Josef Township
The village of Franz Josef is set on the six hundred kilometre coastline in the tranquility of Westland National Park and offers rest and recreation amongst some of the wildest scenery in New Zealand. The backdrop of the Southern Alps towers over a wonderful lush, temperate rainforest, unique to South Westland.