The Franz Josef Glacier in Westland National Park (New Zealand)

Categories: Travel reports, Oceania, New Zealand

Today, just after 8 a.m., we set off on a 3-hour journey from Punakaiki to the New Zealand Alps for a helicopter trip to the Franz Josef Glacier.


The journey from Punakaiki to Franz-Josef

Luckily, the weather was really good today, so we were already looking forward to the trip to the glacier. The road led along the rough coast and the partly snow-covered New Zealand Alps (route in Google Maps).

The Franz Josef Glacier in westland national park

The Franz Josef Glacier is a glacier in the New Zealand Alps on the South Island of New Zealand. It belongs to the 275 km2 Westland National Park and was first explored in 1865 by geologist Julius von Haast, who named the glacier after the then Austrian emperor. The Franz Josef Glacier is a temperature-controlled glacier, flows about half a metre per day and was once so large that it reached directly to the sea (the Tasman Sea). Even today, it is still one of the lowest glaciers of medium width above sea level (about 400 meters). You can drive from the village of Franz-Josef, about 5 kilometres away, to a parking lot and then hike to the nearest observation deck in about 20 minutes. Other viewpoints can also be reached on foot from the car park. If you want to experience the glacier up close, you can book a guided ice hike or a glacier climbing tour including a helicopter flight.

The cancellation of our Helihike due to too strong wind

Just in time we arrived at the small village of Franz-Josef at about 11 a.m. and immediately entered the office of the agency The Helicopter Line went to check us in for our tour at 12 o’clock. Unfortunately we got the information that due to strong winds no helicopters fly to the glacier today and therefore all tours have to be cancelled. There is no such thing!! Outside was finally really good weather – no rain, no clouds, blue skies. And yet we can’t go to the glacier… because of wind. We had absolutely not expected this 🙁

Since all other tours on the Franz Josef Glacier were already fully booked up to tomorrow, the agency tried to find a replacement solution for us. And indeed – the weather conditions at the nearby Fox Glacier looked better, so we were quickly rebooked on a helihike in the afternoon on the Fox Glacier.

The Franz Josef Glacier from below

Since we still had a bit of time until our tour, we drove briefly to the Franz Josef Glacier and took at least a few pictures of the parking lot in the valley.

All travelogues from New Zealand

For 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.

Reiseberichte New Zealand » 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)