Come and see the amazing New Zealand glaciers


New Zealand glaciers are are some of the most accessible in the world, and are one of the many stunning attractions in this beautiful country.

A visit to see them should be on your "must do" list if you are visiting New Zealand.

Near the terminal face of Franz Josef way back in 1998

New Zealand is home to over 3,000 glaciers with an area of 1 hectare or more. The majority of these are located along the main mountain range on the South Island, known as the Southern Alps.

New Zealand's North Island is also home to 18 glaciers, all of which are on the active volcano, Mt Ruapehu. The largest of these are Summit Plateau, Whangaehu, and Mangatoetoenui.

On the South Island there are numerous larger glaciers covering more than 10 hectares, and these include Franz Josef (12 kilometres in length), Fox (13 kilometres in length), Hooker, Tasman (29 kilometres long), Volta, Murchison and Mueller.



Come and meet the "twins"

Perhaps the best known, and most frequently visited glaciers are the "twins" of Franz Josef and Fox. Both are located on New Zealand's ruggedly beautiful West Coast and are supported by nearby villages with a range of accommodation and facilities.

Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier share the almost unique feature of being the only two which terminate in low level rainforest, around 250 meters above sea level.

A guided glacier walk is a great way to see Franz Josef Glacier

Apart from New Zealand, the only other place where this happens is in Argentina in South America.

Getting here

Franz Josef and Fox Glacier are accessed by State Highway 6 which runs along the South Island's West Coast.

If driving from Christchurch, the trip takes around 5 hours each way, via State Highway 73, then SH 6.

The drive from Queenstown to Franz Josef also takes around 5 hours each way, via SH 6.

Please refer to our State Highways map.



What's the best way to see the New Zealand glaciers?

There are several ways to see the New Zealand glaciers.

Scenic flights by plane or helicopter are always popular, and provide amazing views. Several years back we were lucky enough to take a helicopter flight and snow landing on Franz Josef and it was an amazing, unforgettable experience, and one that we can highly recommend.

Scenic flights are readily available from Franz Josef and Fox villages, Mt Cook and New Zealand's "Adventure Capital", Queenstown.

An ice cave on Franz Josef - pic courtesy westcoast.co.nz

Franz Josef is the most accessible glacier, and you can walk unguided to the face of Franz Josef (about a 30 minute, level walk from the car park).

Guided walks are also popular, and range from easy walks to the face of Franz Josef, to more strenuous ice hikes and climbs.

As you can see from the pictures on this page, the scenery is amazing. Huge ice walls, shaded in blues, large crevasses, massive snow fields, and of course spectacular views of surrounding countryside.

Make sure to pack your camera!



Search through a huge range of tours for the New Zealand glaciers

There are various tour options available and you can read customer reviews, check availability and prices, make bookings, and learn more about them right here.

Highly recommended tours

Here are a few of the more popular and highest rated tours (be sure to read the reviews for these outstanding tours):

Franz Josef Glacier Small Group Ice Walk

Franz Josef Glacier Valley Guided Walk

Franz Josef Heli Flight and Snow Landing

Fox Glacier and Mount Cook Heli Flight




The unique Glacier Explorer's Tour from Mount Cook


If you are looking for a unique way to see a New Zealand glacier, check this out.

The Glacier Explorers Tour - pic courtesy Vaughan Brookfield

The hugely popular Glacier Explorers tour which runs from late August to the end of May, operates from Mt Cook village.

A short coach trip delivers you to the Tasman Valley. An easy 30 minute walk then takes you to your boat for a breathtaking guided tour on the Terminal Lake of the mighty Tasman Glacier, where you will come face to face with giant icebergs.

A highly recommended tour.




Where Can I Find More Information On New Zealand's Glaciers?

New Zealand's Department of Conservation (DOC) has a vast amount of information on New Zealand's glaciers and National Parks, including details of the many walks available.

Click on the following link to visit the DOC website. The site is easy to navigate and there is also a handy search function at the top of the page.

For more information on Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, you can visit the West Coast tourism site West Coast NZ.com




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