New Zealand’s glaciers are akin to adventurers: always on the move, ceaselessly exploring and shaping the very essence of the land. All of them offer a different experience, a story worth taking home after your visit.
As people who’ve navigated the twists and turns of many of these frozen wonders, we found ourselves asking this question recently: Which glacier holds the key to the ultimate New Zealand experience?
What is the best glacier to visit in New Zealand?
The Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, located in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park, are widely regarded as the best glaciers to visit in New Zealand. This is largely because they are highly accessible, are very picturesque, and offer a wide variety of glacier activities.
Let’s dive deeper into all of the reasons they’re the best glaciers to see in our country.
They’re highly accessible
One of the key reasons the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers are the best to visit in New Zealand is their accessibility.
They’re in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park, just a short drive from the towns of Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier. Plus, there are tour operators that offer day trips from Queenstown and Wanaka, which makes it easy to visit the glaciers even if you are not staying in the area.
And even once you arrive at the glaciers, there are a variety of ways to experience them.
- Franz Josef Glacier Road: The Franz Josef Glacier Valley Access Road takes you directly to the terminal face of the Franz Josef Glacier. You can drive up without any hassle.
- Short Walks with Stunning Views: Several short walks lead to viewpoints of the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. These paths are suitable for people of all fitness levels and don’t require any special equipment, offering breathtaking views without strenuous effort.
- Guided Tours for Everyone: Numerous tour operators provide guided walks and helicopter tours of the glaciers. This means you can experience the glaciers even if hiking or climbing isn’t your forte.
They offer a wide variety of activities
Another compelling reason to choose the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers is the diverse range of activities they offer. This makes them a great choice for people who are looking for a unique and unforgettable glacier experience.
Here are some of the activities that are available at the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers:
At the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, you can indulge in glacier walks that provide an unmatched closeness to the glacier’s wonders.
The unique geological features here allow for walks that bring you face-to-face with nature’s icy marvels – an experience that simply can’t be replicated elsewhere in New Zealand.
Picture yourself gliding above the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers and their surrounding mountains in a helicopter—an experience that goes beyond the ordinary.
What makes these helicopter tours exceptional are the specific routes designed to showcase the glaciers’ most breathtaking aspects. You can marvel at the intricate ice formations, deep crevasses, and sheer scale of these glaciers, all from the comfort of your airborne vantage point.
Glacier hiking at Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers is unlike any other experience: it’s an adventure that takes you beyond the usual trails. Led by friendly and knowledgeable guides, these hikes offer both challenge and reward.
As you explore, you’ll encounter incredible natural features like frozen waterfalls (icefalls), deep cracks (crevasses), and towering ice columns (seracs). These elements showcase the glacier’s ancient beauty up close.
At Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, ice climbing becomes an extraordinary adventure. The glaciers’ varied landscapes offer thrilling climbing opportunities, making each ascent distinctive.
With expert instructors, climbers conquer not just ice but the challenge itself, an experience that’s exceptional to these glaciers.
They have impressive natural beauty
Lastly, the natural beauty around the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers is simply breathtaking.
Surrounded by tall mountains and lush forests, these glaciers offer a sight that’s hard to match. The contrast of their icy blue tones against the vibrant green landscape creates a stunning visual treat that leaves visitors utterly amazed.
As you explore, you’ll discover pristine waterfalls, calm lakes, and diverse wildlife, all adding to the magic of the experience.