After our Helihike tour to the Franz Josef Glacier had to be cancelled this morning due to too strong winds, the employee of the agency “The Helicoper Line” immediately called a friendly provider in Fox Glacier Village and reserved us two places for the Helihike at 2 pm. At the Fox Glacier, all helicopters were able to take off today, as the wind there does not affect anything. But again lucky! 🙂
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The journey from Franz-Josef to Fox Glacier Village
So we drove from the small village franz-Josef to the Fox Glacier Village, which is about 20 kilometers away. The agency for the heli-hike is called Fox Glacier Guiding and with us there were 20 more people on the tour. After we were equipped with water-repellent jackets, we went by bus to the nearby helipad. There we got thick socks, sturdy hiking boots and some safety instructions.
The helicopter flight to Fox Glacier
From the helipad we went one after the other with four helicopters to the glacier. The flight was very short, but the landing in the middle of the snow and the sight of the huge glacier was breathtaking.
An ice hike on the glacier
The Fox Glacier has a length of more than 13 km and is located in the New Zealand Alps. Like the Franz Josef Glacier, it was once so large that it flowed into the sea. Today, both are among the lowest glaciers of medium width above sea level (about 400 m). We tied the spikes around our shoes and walked in 2 small groups across the ice of the glacier. Again and again there were great sights and beautiful ice formations.
The ice tunnels at the glacier
We have climbed through ice tunnels and explored various ice caves.
A hike through crevasses
In addition, we walked through deep and sometimes really narrow crevasses. Since the sun was shining all the time, we didn’t freeze at all, even though it was cold 7 degrees. Around 6 p.m. we were back down in the village and were glad that we could still go to the glacier today. Even if the price for the Helihike with 400 NZD (approx. 260 Euro) is not necessarily cheap,we liked the tour super well and we can only recommend it to everyone!
A video of the ice caves on the glacier
Here is a little video of our walk through one of the ice caves.
Franz Josef Glacier or the Fox Glacier?
The question of whether the Franz Josef Glacier or the Fox Glacier is “better” is of course also asked in advance and searched for it on Google. And no matter if you read in English or German forums and blogs: in principle both glaciers seem to be very similar. The best time to travel for both glaciers is the winter months, as there are fewer rainy days here.
The Franz Josef Glacier is definitely the better known of both and the village of Franz-Josef is, in contrast to the Fox Glacier Village, also a little more touristic. There are more shops, restaurants and accommodations. The two places are about 25 minutes apart by car (23 kilometers). The hike from the parking lot at the foot of the Franz Josef Glacier (“Glacier Valley Walk”) to the lookout point (glacier gate) is about 45 minutes, at the Fox Glacier (“Chalet Lookout”) the 4 kilometer long hike lasts just as long. The barriers at the end of the trail should not be climbed, as ice chunks can break off from the glacier and the glacier gate can collapse. We have read that the view from the Viewpoint and also the hiking trail at the Fox Glacier (through a rainforest) should be a bit more beautiful.
If you want to read a little more about the different hiking trails: wikitravel.org
Our hotel in Franz-Josef
After the tour we went back to Franz-Josef and checked in at our hostel Chateau Franz.
We had booked a double room with private bathroom. The room was good, had a double bed and a small bed. There was also a TV, crockery, fridge and an electric kettle. The cleanliness of the room can still be done. Free breakfast is served every day and free soup with baked goods is available at 6pm in the evening. Internet was also free and worked well. The staff were all very nice and friendly. There are two shared kitchens that are well equipped. The area is quiet as the hostel is not on the main road, but in a side street.
All travelogues from New ZealandFor 11 days we explored New Zealand from north to south by rental car on our own. We started our trip on the North Island in the city of Auckland, we experienced the tremendous underground forces in Wai-O-Tapu and Orakei Korako, we explored the capital Wellington, drove across the New Zealand Alps, did a glacier hike on the Fox Glacier, before we finished with a trip through the UNESCO World Heritage Site Milford Sound. New Zealand is a really beautiful country that we enjoyed incredibly.
North Island: Auckland – Tourist Attractions, Things to Do & Photo spots (New Zealand)
North Island: Waitomo – The Waitomo Glowworm Caves (New Zealand)
North Island: Rotorua & The geothermal area Wai-O-Tapu (New Zealand)
North Island: Orakei Korako – The geothermal region in Taupo (New Zealand)
North Island: The Tongariro Alpine Crossing & the city of Wellington (New Zealand)
North Island / South Island: Picton – The ferry from the North Island to the South Island (New Zealand)
South Island: Abel Tasman National Park – Hiking & Boat tour (New Zealand)
South Island: Pancake Rocks & the Sea Lions at Cape Foulwind (New Zealand)
South Island: The Franz Josef Glacier in Westland National Park (New Zealand)
South Island: Fox Glacier – Heli-Hike, Glacier Walk & Ice Climbing (New Zealand)
South Island: New Zealand Alps – From Franz-Josef to Milford Sound (New Zealand)
South Island: Milford Sound – A boat trip through the fjord (New Zealand)
South Island: Road to Milford Sound & the town of Queenstown (New Zealand)