Hiking Franz Josef Glacier
New Zealand is my favorite place in the world I’ve ever been yet. You all well known about the beauty of the country, but mostly, they have absolutely everything I can imagine. One of the best things in NZ is the glacier.
The most popular glaciers to hike in New Zealand are Fox Glacier and Franz Josef.
Fox Glacier is a little more popular and cheaper because it is a bit smaller than the one in Franz Josef. I choose Franz Josef. Glacier hiking is very hard physically and weatherly. 240 days out of 365 days are raining here, fact. Check the weather before you decide to squeeze a glacier hiking in your travel plan or not.
To register, visit the information center. You can choose between a full day walk, a half-day walk, and 2/3 walk by different prices and how much you want to see. They even have a helicopter tour landing on the top of the glacier, called nevy. Some price discounts are available, so please check which deal you can get.
I choose full-day walking, for 8 hours. For the people who register for the guided walks, all the equipment is included in the registration price. Proper shoes, raincoat, gloves, hat, are the supplies you need when walking on the ice. Keep in mind there is a deposit for equipment though. All you need to do is get dressed and pack your lunch.
Insider travel tip: I was there in July, which is winter of NZ, so I overprotected myself for the cold when hiking. BUT Keep in mind. Don’t overdress. You need to keep your body warm of course but dress in light layers. During the hiking, you burn so many calories, so that it is not cold up there at all. And most importantly, light pants recommended.
Among 4 days I stayed at the Franz Josef, 3 days there was no sun. However, we were really lucky for hiking. Beautiful flawless blue sky and surprisingly the glacier was just in front of us! We just couldn’t see it before, because of all the clouds. Mother Earth works in mysterious ways indeed.
After a bus ride of about 5 minutes, the grand hiking started. You can see the glamorous glacier from the beginning, but about 10 minutes of walking is just getting through the bush. Then, bam! Could not believe what you can see from there.
The guided walking started. Don’t fall for the amazing view you see right now. Because this walking is extremely dangerous as you can imagine. Get your head in the game! This glacier is different every day. It means it moves every day at about 3 cm. it melts, it breaks, it moves and it grows.
Guided walk divided us into 4 teams, according to the level. I and other girls choose course number 2 (second hardest). There’s useful information you need to know when you have all the equipment. For example, when you go downstairs, step one foot behind the other foot, when you attach a spike to your shoes. If you put your foot in front of the other foot closely, it’s possible that the spike and your shoe strings tangle each other.
Our guide Dan told us, he and his other colleagues hike and make the way every day. We walked on the ice stairs they made for us visitors. We actually saw a cave, which just cracked open a few days ago. So fascinating!
Every step, there’s a different view in front of us. The color is really blue. And getting much bluer. All the lakes in the south island of NZ have cobalt blue water because of the glacier.
Franz Josef was a charming little town. Cozy, comfortable, very calm, just what I needed. Personally I met good friends in my backpackers. 8 hours of this hiking is one of the best experiences in my life. NZ certainly has so many charms and this glacier is the best part.
You should try it!