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Franz Josef Glacier

Guided heli-hikes on the glacier

New Zealand: Franz Josef Glacier

If you think “Franz Josef” is an unusual name for a South Island glacier, you wouldn’t be wrong. It was named by geologist Julius von Haast in honour of Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria in 1865 and the name has stuck. The glacier itself is 10.5km long (and getting shorter!) and terminates 19km from the coast.

Franz (pop 450) is a bustling little township when visitors are in town, dead quiet when they’re not. There are lots of accommodation and sustenance options.

Drop in to the Visitor Centre to weigh up your options to see the glacier.

Franz Josef Glacier Guides operate unbelievable guided heli-hikes on the glacier and this is the way to go.

The Franz Josef Glacier/Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere Walk is currently just a 30-minute return walk, including a viewpoint of the glacier valley, as the Waiho River has cut off access to the track on the valley floor. Check at the Visitor Centre for the latest on efforts to re-establish the longer walk.

Glacier Hot Pools are also based at the Visitor Centre building.

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Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre - Glacier Base, 69 Cron St, Franz Josef Glacier

Glacier Country

Half-day hikes

South Island Loop

Circle the island in 3 weeks

Text © Craig McLachlan

Image by Eli Duke