A Journey into Glacier Country
On the West Coast, remnants of the ice age cascade from vast snowfields of the Southern Alps to valley floors just 300 metres above sea level—the West Coast Glaciers. Nowhere in the world’s temperate zones are glaciers so accessible.
Franz Josef Glacier
The Franz Josef Glacier is located in the Westland National Park, about five kilometres from Franz Josef township.
There are a number of walking tracks around the Franz Josef Glacier. The walks offer stunning views of the glacier, glacier valley, Waiho River and colonising plants.
There is no accommodation at Franz Josef Glacier, but there are plenty of places to stay in nearby Franz Josef Village
The Fox Glacier is located about six kilometres from the Fox Glacier township. The township is situated on State Highway 6, some 170 kilometres south of Hokitika.
The Fox Glacier Valley has a range of walks offering spectacular views of the glacier. At 13 kilometres long, the Fox Glacier is one of the longest of the many glaciers within Westland National Park.
There is no accommodation in the valley, but there are plenty of places to stay in nearby Fox Glacier Village.
A range of companies offer guided excursions to explore the spectacular ice formations. All companies provide professional guides that give full explanations regarding the geological features, flora and fauna of the area.
Helicopter and fixed wing aircraft also provide scenic flights and snow landings amidst New Zealand's highest peaks overlooking the glaciers.
A range of walks exist surrounding the glaciers that provide excellent vantage points for viewing the glacier as well as exploring the rainforest environments.
The villages of Franz Josef and Fox Glacier are good bases from which to explore the glaciers.
Glacier Conservation and Safety
The glaciers are managed by the Department of Conservation. The glaciers are subject to river surges, falling ice and rock and other dangerous conditions. Be sure to read and obey all warning signs. Further things to remember include:
- Take your rubbish away with you
- Do not light fires
- Do not feed the wildlife
- Follow the marked tracks
- Do not modify or remove any safety signs or barriers
- Do not advance past rope barriers
- Do not attempt to cross enlarged or rising streams