Being in New Zealand for the last 25 years, it still surprises me that I have yet to explore some of the best places in Aotearoa. Our latest adventure took us to the Franz Joseph, a town located as part of West Coast, South Island.
Visiting the glacier in Franz Josef has been on my list of to-dos ever since I contracted holiday-envy from friends that went a couple years back. So when the opportunity arose during the planning phase of our South Island trip, we quickly made a booking with Franz Josef Glacier Guides for their Heli Hike Tour.
A short scenic helicopter ride took us to the glacier where we geared up with crampons and began our three hour guided glacier hike. Our friendly guide lead us through the glacier and towering peaks surrounded by panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. There were sections where we walked between the ice walls and crevasses and stood in awe of our surroundings.
Our guide was thoughtful enough to allow us to stop for photos and he frequently had to re-establish our ice path to ensure we were taking the safest route possible. From afar, the glacier can appear to look quite dusty and this is due to the debris on the surface of the glacier. This is more common in summer as the particles get blown by the wind settle on the melting surface of the snow.
It is a costly experience at $459 per person including entry to the hot pools but it is well worth it!
Tip: The weather in Franz Josef is unpredictable – be prepared for the trip to be canceled due to bad weather. Luckily, we were staying in town for a couple of days, so although our trip was canceled twice, we managed to get on!