Welcome to Franz Josef Glacier

Geologist Julius von Haast led the first European expedition here in 1865, and named the glacier after the Austrian emperor. The dismal forecast of a rainier, warmer future spells more shrinkage for Franz Josef, whose trimlines (strips of vegetation on the valley walls) mark out decades of dramatic glacial retreat.

Top experiences in Franz Josef Glacier

Travel guides

Starting at $36.39

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Franz Josef Glacier activities

$326.14 Outdoor Activities

Franz Josef Helicopter Flight and Glacier Hike

Choose from four different morning departure times to suit your schedule, then head to the centrally located tour base in Franz Josef to meet your guide. Wrap up against the elements with the protective jacket, trousers, hats, gloves and leather boots provided, and don’t forget to grab your crampons! When you’re fully kitted out, head to your helicopter and start your journey with a short flight up onto the Franz Josef Glacier.Enjoy breathtaking views of the glacier and surrounding area from your vantage point high in the sky, then land gently on the glacier and set off with your guide. An amazing sight to behold, there are forests of ice formations jutting out at different angles from the mighty glacier .Follow your experienced guide through the maze of ice as you explore the magnificent natural landscape. Discover first-hand the dramatic environmental changes that are affecting the glacier and gain insight into the amazing geological forces at play.At the conclusion of your glacier hike, return to Franz Josef by helicopter and relax with a soak in the Glacier Hot Pools. Nestled in a lush rainforest on the edge of town, the hot pools are fed by pure glacier water. Sit back, relax and rejuvenate your muscles in the soothing water — the perfect way to end the day in style!

$319.04 Air, Helicopter & Balloon Tours

Franz Josef 3-Hour Helicopter and Hiking Tour

After meeting your guide and being fitted for all of your provided equipment, your Franz Josef Glacier adventure starts with a thrilling helicopter ride from the helicopter base in town up to the ice. With its ability to hover over stunning landscapes and provide access to remote areas, a helicopter flight is the ultimate way to see the 7.5-mile-long (12 km) glacier at the top of New Zealand's Southern Alps.Soar right by towering peaks, over deep crevasses and past sparkling waterways. Admire the pristine blue color of the ice, and land high up on the glacier between two icefalls, where your 2-hour guided hike begins. Follow your experienced guide into the spectacular icefall terrain, usually seen only by skilled mountaineers. Climb in and around ice caves, see dramatic pinnacles and seracs, and learn about the history and current conditions of the Franz Josef Glacier. Enjoy amazing photo ops of this unique landscape, and then re-board the helicopter for the ride back to town.Safety and helicopters:The local tour operator has an excellent safety record, practices rigid assessments and uses exclusive high-quality equipment. Your safety and enjoyment come first.The helicopter fleet consists predominately of AS355 twin-engine Squirrels, which seat six passengers plus the pilot. They are ideal for scenic flights, with an open-plan cabin that provides excellent views for all passengers. The local tour operator has the highest-level certification from the Civil Aviation Authority for scenic helicopter tours; this involves regular monitoring and audits of all aspects of the operations.

$223.82 Air, Helicopter & Balloon Tours

Franz Josef and Fox Glacier 30-Minute Helicopter Flight

Head to the nearby Fox Glacier Helicopter Base to begin your tour. Take a seat in your helicopter and, as the powerful blades begin to whir noisily outside, strap in and brace yourself for the trip of a lifetime!The Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are considered by many visitors to offer some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery. Pristine ice fields, plunging crevasses and frozen icefalls lead from the glaciers’ towering peaks down to the valley beneath, and the scenery is truly breathtaking.Take in panoramic views from your vantage point in the sky and listen as your professional pilot delivers informative commentary en route. The glaciers are the result of millions of years of tectonic plate movement, and their majesty and scale can only be truly appreciated from the air.After a short flight, touch down at the head of either the Franz Josef Glacier or the Fox Glacier and enjoy a little time to admire the landscape up close. Pose for photographs, capture the mountain scenery on camera and take in beautiful views out over the icy terrain to the lower valley beyond.When your 30-minute tour is over, hop back in your helicopter for the short flight back to the Fox Glacier Helicopter Base.

$56.13 Outdoor Activities

Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk

Take a day trip from Franz Josef to experience New Zealand's stunning nature and picturesque views of the Franz Josef Glacier.Once fitted out with all your equipment, take a short bus ride to the outskirts of the glacier. Your guide will take you on a Glacier Valley Walk that will take you up alongside the mighty Waiho River bed following the glaciers path of retreat in this remarkable landscape. You will learn about the glacier's history, see what is left behind by this majestic giant, and learn the legend of Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere. Near the terminal face, you will cross over the public barriers and after a brief climb you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the rapidly changing terminal face of the glacier.

$1133.33 Multi-day & Extended Tours

5-Day South Island Tour from Christchurch

Your five-day exploration of New Zealand's spectacular South Island begins with the stunning scenery of the foothills of the Southern Alps and a lunchtime visit to Mt Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain. After spending the night in Queenstown, you'll take an unforgettable cruise on majestic Milford Sound, surrounded by rock walls scarred by glaciers rising vertically from the sea. You'll have a day free to explore Queenstown on your own, then travel along New Zealand's most stunning highway to the World Heritage Westland National Park. The route up the West Coast takes you past soaring mountain ranges, native forests and lakes to the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. A "living river of ice", the Franz Josef Glacier is more than 7,000 years old and a must-see for any visitor to New Zealand. On the final day of your South Island tour you'll travel along the rugged West Coast to Shantytown, a faithful reconstruction of a Westland gold-rush town. You'll also stop at Greymouth, the center for thousands of diggers during the historic gold strikes of the 1860s. Your five-day tour concludes with a trip to Christchurch aboard the famous TranzAlpine Express, one of the top 10 train journeys in the world.

$81.71 Outdoor Activities

Kayak Adventure from Franz Josef Glacier

Lake Mapourika was created by the mighty Franz Josef Glacier as it retreated some 14 000 years ago, now it sits sandwiched between the Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea. The mirror-like water and unbeatable views make it one of the scenic gems of the West Coast!The back of the lake borders a protected habitat of the rarest birds on the planet - the Rowi. Follow your guide through the narrow estuaries of the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary and enjoy some of Westland's oldest untouched rainforest. Slide silently past 900 year old Kahikatea trees and enjoy the unique song of New Zealand's native birds!   Free high quality digital photos are provided with each tour. We also provide specialist equipment to keep you warm and dry, and a selection of quality sea kayaks to choose from.