Franz Josef Glacier, Franz Josef

4.2
#1 of 72 in Trails in South Island
Geologic Formation Hiking Trail
Explore one of New Zealand's natural gems with a trek or helicopter ride at Franz Josef Glacier, part of a national park and World Heritage Site. The country's native inhabitants called this 12 km (7.5 mi) glacier "Tears of the Avalanche Girl," believing a young girl's tears over a lost lover froze into the massive sheet of ice. Europeans first investigated the site in the 1860s, when explorer Julius Haast named it after the Austrian emperor. An ideal spot for an outdoor New Zealand adventure, the glacier offers a range of hiking tours suitable for all levels of ability and fitness. To see the glacier from the air, consider a helicopter tour over the frozen mountain landscape. Check the website for deals on tour packages. To visit Franz Josef Glacier on your trip to Franz Josef, use our Franz Josef travel itinerary maker.
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  • Beautiful 90 minute walk thru the valley floor and river bed to the glacier viewing area. There were some moderate grades to walk but most everyone including small children could make the trip without...  more »
  • We started out from the trail head at the end of the Glacier Access Road, which is south of Franz Josef Waiau township. The trail starts at the parking lot and follows a river bed through a valley sur...  more »
  • This is a super easy walk for a family with children (5 & 7 years). There are some uphill sections, but easily achieved. And you get to get up close and personal with a stunning glacier. All paths are...  more »

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Where to stay in Franz Josef

With the increasing popularity of the glacier among vacationers, the town of Franz Josef offers a range of accommodations to suit the needs of its many visitors. Hostels are popular in the town center, but those looking for something more upscale will also find luxury hotels. Camping is a good option if you want to get straight out into the wild. Advanced reservations are essential during peak times.
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