Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers

Franz Josef Travel Blog

 › entry 13 of 20 › view all entries
The mouth of Franz Josef Glacier. The "dirty" look is actually bits of mountain that the glacier has collected on its way down.
Now we're getting into the famous parts of the south island!  we drove straight down to Franz Josef Glacier from Hokitika in the wet and wondered whether our hike up the glacier face at 12.30pm would still be on, but luckily the weather cleared by the time we got there.  We did a half-day glacier walk onto the face with Franz Josef Glacier Guides ($90pp, but you get $5pp off with a YHA card).  We actually weren't that impressed.  The glacier itself is of course fascinating, but this company just seemed sloppy and unorganised.  You spend so much time just standing around waiting while they sorted out problems they should have picked up on earlier and for other groups to go before you - in essence, they were just trying to push too many people through at once.
The Franz Josef party.
  You must also be aware that you will get very wet feet as you have to walk through rivers and up and down rocks to actually get to the glacier, which takes about 45mins before you even set foot on ice!  We did enjoy it, just thought the organisation could have been much better, and way too many people up there.
The contrast with our trip to Fox Glacier the next day cannot be described - they were so much more organised and just seemed to know what they were doing!  We did a heli-hike here so of course there were far fewer people about - you go up and down to the middle of the glacier in a helicopter (yes, EVEN Melissa did it and thought it was incredible, much better than light planes which scare the hell out of her!) where they drop you off for over two hours of walking around the glacier and exploring the little caves and crannies - expensive at $299pp but well worth it if you can stretch your budget, a whole different experience to being on the lower face.  Afterwards we drove out to Lake Matheson but unfortunately the conditions were not right for the famed reflection of Mount Cook on the waters, still nice to wander around though.  We had lunch at Cooks Saddle Cafe - quite a tacky looking "wild west" sort of pub, but the food and drink was great and we just sat there for a couple of hours relaxing in the sunshine - very pleasant!
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The mouth of Franz Josef Glacier. …
The mouth of Franz Josef Glacier.…
The Franz Josef party.
The Franz Josef party.
Noel & Melissa at Franz Josef Glac…
Noel & Melissa at Franz Josef Gla…
Yes, I did it - Melissa in a helic…
Yes, I did it - Melissa in a heli…
Noel and Melissa in an ice cave, F…
Noel and Melissa in an ice cave, …
The intrepid ice explorers.
The intrepid ice explorers.
The helicopter coming to pick us u…
The helicopter coming to pick us …
Fox Glacier from the helicopter.
Fox Glacier from the helicopter.
Franz Josef
photo by: Vikram