Visiting the Franz Josef Glacier

Arguably one of the most famous and most visited glaciers in the world, Franz Josef Glacier is a must visit for anyone who finds themselves in New Zealand on holiday or during a stint of extended travelling.

Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier Trekking by Edwin.11 via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

If you’re planning on visiting this natural wonder it’s easy to get to Franz Josef township by road. Many bus touring companies will stop at the town on circular routes of the South Island and there’s a mix of accommodation available for tourists, from hostels like the YHA to those with a few more home comforts. Trips up onto the glacier are of course weather dependant and so having a great place to stay can be worth it if you have to wait out the weather as I did.

The main tour operator in town, offering trips up onto the glacier, is Franz Josef Glacier Guides (you can visit their website here). Most visitors will go through this company if they’re going by foot although there are a variety of tour options open to travellers. There are other tour operators available, especially if you want to something more private and bespoke or wish to jump the queues and reach more remote areas of a glacier by helicopter.

It can get pretty cold up on the glacier, or at least it has the potential to. For the most part tour companies provide technical protective clothing such as breathable jackets and trousers as well as socks and boots. As many long term travellers who stop in travel light, this is the perfect situation as it still lets them take part in this truly magical experience. It’s recommended that visitors bring with them a good pair of sunglasses, as it can get very bright up on the glacier, and some warm layers and accessories. When I visited I took with me some Von Zipper sunnies which have outstanding lenses and a knitted hat hand made from Cashmere wool. Definitely do not take jeans.

If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere and planning on visiting New Zealand then the Franz Josef Glacier is a must do. The whole of New Zealand captures so many different ecosystems and you really don’t have to travel too far before stumbling upon a new piece of stunning natural beauty. Keep a look out for more posts as I will be blogging about New Zealand again in the near future.