Hike to Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier Trailhead

Activities

Chillin, Photography, Hiking

Skill

Beginner

Season

Year Round

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
River
Scenic
Waterfall

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.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations.

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

The waterfalls are the best part!

Wanted to hike Roberts Point but the overcast hung low in the sky (a common occurrence on the West Coast) and would've obstructed the views so I opted for this hike instead and I was not disappointed. The waterfalls really make this hike extraordinary. Kind of reminded me of waterfalls in Hawaii but also with a huge glacier. Do yourself a favor and go at sunrise/sunset to avoid the crazy crowds.

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.

Activities

Chillin, Photography, Hiking

Skill

Beginner

Season

Year Round

Nearby Adventures

Adventure

Hike to Robert's Point (Franz Josef Glacier)

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Explore Peter's Pool

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Camp on Alex Knob

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Watch the Sunset from the Waiho River Bridge

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