Introducing Franz Josef Glacier
The early Maori knew Franz Joseph as Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere (Tears of the Avalanche Girl). Legend tells of a girl losing her lover who fell from the local peaks, and her flood of tears freezing into the glacier.
The glacier was first explored by Europeans in 1865, Austrian Julius Haast naming it after the Austrian emperor. The glacier started advancing again in 1985 after a period of retreat.
The glacier is 5km from Franz Joseph village, the terminal face a 40-minute walk from the car park. Both Fox and Franz glacier faces are roped off to prevent people being caught in icefalls and river surges. The danger is very real, and in February 2007, two tourists were injured after being hit by falling ice when they ventured too close. Take a guided tour to get up close and personal.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009