Franz Josef

Franz Josef

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You find yourself in a wonderland of pristine whiteness – ice pinnacles, blue crevasses, deep caves and towering seracs. The glorious crispness and purity of this jumbled icefall is truly astounding.

The guide’s ice axe swings in a constant arc, cutting steps for the group to follow around yawning voids and over the glacier’s contorted surface.

The Franz Josef glacier is moving forward one metre a day, inexorably grinding down from its broad nevé basin to the coastal plain, only 30 km from the sea. Nowhere else on earth at this latitude, have glaciers advanced so close to the sea.

Licensed alpine guides take half-day icefall walks, allowing around one hour on the glacier. Full-day and helihiking trips visit the upper glacier where the going is even more adventurous. Flight-seeing is a popular alternative for viewing the glacier and overflying Mts Cook and Tasman, New Zealand’s two highest peaks. Helicopter operators also land on the glacier nevé to give a first hand experience of the vast ice basin. Popular walks to lookout points include Sentinel Rock, Douglas Walk, Alex Knob Track and Roberts Point Track.

Fox Glacier, 25 km south of Franz Josef township on S.H.6, is a slightly smaller community, but with all the same services, glacier walks and climbs. Popular walks include the river bed path to the glacier’s terminal face, the River Walk to Glacier Valley Viewpoint and the longer Chalet Lookout.

Lake Matheson, New Zealand’s most photographed lake, is 6 km from Fox and is a ‘must see’ attraction on a clear, sunny day. It was formed when the glacier retreated at the end of the last ice age. Early morning is the best time to capture the snow-capped summits of Mts Cook and Tasman, perfectly mirrored in the placid waters. It is common for colour prints of this glorious scene to be reversible i.e. to depict identical mirror images reflected in the lake.

Both the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are included in the Te Waipounamu World Heritage Area due to their uniqueness. They were named after the emperor of Austria-Hungary and a former New Zealand premier. Despite their consistent retreat throughout most of the 20th Century, they have advanced over 1 km since 1985.

These giant rivers of ice are among New Zealand’s major scenic attractions. Walk on them, fly over them, view them from the riverbed, but don’t miss them.

By | 2016-11-26T18:58:18+00:00 February 17th, 2014|Franz Josef|0 Comments

About the Author:

Danny de Hek

Like most people, I have many passions, goals and dreams. As a self made business professional, my focus is helping my clients, associates and friends, build, strengthen and maintain their success. It would be fair to say I am in the full time business of building relationships and feel my purpose and skill is connecting the right people with the right people.

My professional work tends to dominate my personal life, to the horror of my partner and business mentor. They both fully support me yet give me the hard truths when I need to hear this. I am always investing in my personal development to have a fulfilled work/life balance. I enjoy Target Shooting, Hiking & Mountain Biking to clear the brain and to take the guilt away when indulging at a quirky cafe for a cooked breakfast or brunch.

My passion for travelling has seen me experience the world on many occasions, my next adventure will be doing the Tibet Rail Journey on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway from Lhasa to Golmud as long as they have Wi-Fi aboard ;-) I have many goals I still wish to achieve but am pretty chuffed that I have accomplished so many of these already.

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