Hike to Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier Trailhead

Distance: 5.4 km roundtrip. Time: 1.5 hours roundtrip. Great way to see the glacier without paying hundreds of dollars to go on it. Easy, mostly flat walk. Several waterfalls.

From the carpark take a quick walk through a green, forested area before making your way into the valley. Here you will get your first view of the glacier. At this point the trail gets a bit rocky but is still very doable. The trail continues mostly flat for the next 35 minutes. You will pass many waterfalls and interesting rock formations on this part of the hike. Right before the glacier platform there is a small uphill. Once you reach the viewing platform there is an amazing view of Franz Josef Glacier. The area around the glacier is very dangerous because of ice and rock fall so make sure to not go past the viewing platform.

Pack List

  • Sturdy walking shoes
  • Camera
  • Warm clothing
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Activities Chillin, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Features
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
River
Scenic
Waterfall

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Easy And Scenic

This is a very easy walk through the West Coast valley with views of the Franz Josef Glacier. When I went, the cloud deck was too low for helicopter tours (unfortunately mine was cancelled the next morning) but walking through the valley in this weather was pretty neat. Towering cliffs are streaming with waterfalls coming out of the clouds was pretty neat. The walk itself has almost no elevation gain and therefore if you're in town it is worth checking out.

Underwhelming

I'll be honest, for those who have seen glaciers in the past, these can be a little underwhelming. I was only able to get as close as about 700 meters, which is still quite far. The path was very well maintained as you can imagine, but it was very crowded. It is one of the crown jewels for NZ, and people know about it. It is some cool scenery and glaciers are always fun to see, but there are better spots to explore in NZ.

This is a pretty easy hike to the beautiful Franz Josef Glacier. It's really a shame how much of the glacier has receded since 2008 (when it entered a rapid phase of retreat). Just more of a reason to continually make efforts to preserve our environment and areas like these. Make sure you take the chance to see while you can!


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Nearby Adventures

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