If you hear about Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier might be mentioned as well. These two glaciers are like two peas in a pot but it looks like Franz is stealing the spotlights in most cases. But as both glaciers are massively retreating these days the only way to get a good sight of the glaciers now is on a helicopter tour (hiking up to the foot of the bottom of the glaciers is forbidden nowadays)
If you are deciding to make a stop in Fox Glacier and you want to explore the area, then Lake Matheson is worth a visit, preferable in the early morning when the clouds have not closed the curtain over the Fox Glacier. The fairly easy loop gives you some nice viewpoints of the area. Another great spot (if you got the time for the detour) is Gillespies Beach. Keep your mosquito repellent handy here because the sandflies are everywhere and they leave you with a nasty itch.
Welcome to Franz Josef Glacier, one of the wettest places on earth.
Be prepared to have a rainy day during your stay here in this beautiful place on earth that is squeezed between the mountains and the ocean and creates its own special micro climate.
This tiny village is a mandatory stop along the scenic Highway 6 between Greymouth and Queenstown and has a handful of great things to offer for everyone.
Going for a hike ?
Well, needless to say, this lush area has plenty of hikes to offer. If you have only a couple of hours to kill the most famous and visited one would be the Franz Josef Glacier Walk that departs from the village. If you don’t feel like doing the walk or don’t have the time you can take your car up to the Franz Josef Glacier Car Park. From there it is a half an hour walk to the end of the trail where you can have some views of the retreating glacier. The sights of the glacier might be a tiny bit disappointing to you so if you would like to see the glacier in full glory you’ll have to dig deeper into your pockets and arrange a helicopter tour over the glacier. These helicopters tours depart from the village and need to be booked well in advanced as on some days the unsteady weather might give the helicopter tour companies very limited windows to fly out to give you a clear view of the glacier. Got some more time and want to get away from the crowds on a more challenging track ? Great ! Two of my favourite hikes in Franz Josef would be Alex Knob and Roberts Point. These two tracks are both considered a day trip and you should prepare well for these hikes (water, food, appropriate hiking gear). The views on top won’t disappoint. Thirsty ?
After you return from a day around the glacier you must be hungry and parched. The village offers something for everyone. The Landing and King Tiger might be your best options to fill your tummy while Full of Beans might have a good cup of coffee for you.
And at night ?
Looking for something to do at night ? There is even a brand new movie theater in town which is playing the newest movies out there and if you want to go for a good drink after then Monsoon is your place to go. You drink, they pour….
But always have a rain jacket handy… because there will be rain. But keep in mind, it is up to you to go outside with your rain jacked in the rain and have a laugh with your friends or complain in your room about the shitty weather outside. This place remains a very beautiful place, even with a little rain involved.