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Top Hiking Trails in Franz Josef & Fox Glacier

Top Hiking Trails in Franz Josef & Fox Glacier

Set in New Zealand's Westland Tai Poutini National Park—part of the Te Wahipounamu UNESCO World Heritage Site—the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers are two of the world's most accessible glaciers. Unlike polar glaciers, they exist in a temperate climate, making hiking a much more attractive proposition. Here are some of the top trail options.

 

Franz Josef Glacier Hike

Hiking on the sheer icy surface of this glacier is a real thrill. Fly to the glacier crest via helicopter, and land on top where you’ll begin your trek. Using ice axes and crampons, make your way along the vast icy terrain, passing ice caves, pinnacles, seracs, and crevasses. Because of the dangerous and changeable nature of the terrain, hiking on the glacier should only be done with a guide.


Fox Glacier Hike

As with Franz Josef Glacier treks, hikes on the Fox Glacier typically begin with a helicopter ride to the top, followed by a guided trek through the icy wilderness. Equipped with appropriate equipment, hikers make their way along the remote icy expanse, passing sculptural ice formations, ice caves, and arches.

 

Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk

Suitable for those of moderate fitness, this 3.3-mile (5.3-kilometer) trail is ideal for those who would prefer to stay off the ice. It follows the shingle and rock riverbed through the glacier valley, where the glacier once flowed. The route leads to a viewing area, which overlooks the ever-changing terminal face of Franz Josef Glacier.

 

Fox Glacier Valley Walk

This 1.6-mile (2.6-kilometer) walk leads hikers to within 1,640 feet (500 meters) of the terminal face of Fox Glacier, where ice and rock can sometimes be seen calving off. Though it’s not a long route, the surface is somewhat rough and uneven, and hikers may need to cross several small streams.

 

Douglas Walk

Ideal for families, this easy 2.4-mile (3.9-kilometer) loop walk passes through the temperate rain forest, where different areas of vegetation represent the stages of regrowth following the retreat of the glacial ice. It leads to Peters Pool, a small reflective kettle lake formed by meltwater from Franz Josef Glacier, where you can see a mirrored image of the surrounding peaks.

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4 Tours and Activities

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Franz Josef Heli Hiking Guided Tour

Franz Josef Heli Hiking Guided Tour

star-4.5
200
Experience a Franz Josef Glacier heli-hike as you explore ice caves and other glacial terrain with a professional guide.  Then don provided boots, jacket and ice axe for a guided hike past deep crevasses and towering ice-blue pinnacles before the return chopper ride down. Choose from seasonal departure times to suit your schedule.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$354.34
From
$354.34
Taking safety measures

4-hour Lake Mapourika Kayak and Hike adventure, with Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary

4-hour Lake Mapourika Kayak and Hike adventure, with Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary

star-5
45
Discover the natural wonders of Lake Mapourika on this 4-hour kayaking adventure. Paddle around the lake against a backdrop of the Franz Josef Glacier, head ashore for a hike around the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary, and learn more about New Zealand’s famous Kiwi birds.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$108.66
From
$108.66
Taking safety measures

Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk

Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk

star-4.5
148
Take a guided hike to the terminal face of Franz Josef Glacier, scrambling along an exclusive pathway over the riverbed of the mighty Waiho. During the interpretive valley walk to the glacier, your guide covers the geographical features of this magnificent alpine landscape. Upon reaching the viewpoint, you’re treated to an up-close look at the advancing glacier. Numbers are limited to 13 people per group for a more personal experience.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$63.69
From
$63.69

Franz Josef Glacier Heli-Hike

Franz Josef Glacier Heli-Hike

star-4.5
465
On this Franz Josef Glacier helicopter tour and hike, land atop the glacier and explore ice caves and pinnacles with a small group. Soar above New Zealand’s Southern Alps during a scenic flight, then grab your crampons and make your way through dramatic ice formations during a moderately difficult hike. After your return flight, rejuvenate with a complimentary blissful soak at Glacier Hot Pools. Numbers are limited to 11 to ensure personalized attention from your expert guide.
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  • 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$370.93
From
$370.93