West Coast Glacier Hiking


glacier hiking

Day 1: Arrival and Franz Josef Glacier

Morning: Arrival in Franz Josef Village Begin your adventure by arriving in Franz Josef, a small but lively village that serves as the gateway to the glacier of the same name. Check into the Te Waonui Forest Retreat, an eco-friendly luxury hotel nestled amongst native bush, offering a serene setting and top-notch amenities.

Afternoon: Glacier Valley Walk Ease into your glacier experience with a guided Glacier Valley Walk with Franz Josef Glacier Guides. This walk does not take you onto the ice but rather along the river valley with an up-close view of the glacier’s terminal face. Along the way, your guide will explain the glacier’s history, geology, and the surrounding flora and fauna.

Evening: Dinner at Alice May Dine at Alice May, a local favorite in Franz Josef Village known for its friendly ambiance and delicious New Zealand cuisine. Their famous ‘Alice’s Pies’ are a must-try, made with locally sourced ingredients.

Day 2: Full-Day Franz Josef Glacier Hike

Morning: Helicopter Ride and Glacier Hike After a hearty breakfast, prepare for a thrilling helicopter ride with Franz Josef Glacier Guides, which will whisk you up to a more remote part of the glacier. This flight provides spectacular aerial views of the glacier and surrounding peaks. Upon landing, embark on a guided hike across the ice formations, exploring ice caves and crevasses while fitted with all the necessary gear like crampons and ice axes.

Afternoon: Continue Glacier Exploration Spend the afternoon continuing your exploration of the glacier. The constantly changing nature of the glacier offers a unique experience with every visit. Your guide will help navigate the safest and most scenic routes.

Evening: Relax at Glacier Hot Pools After your ice adventure, unwind at the Glacier Hot Pools nestled in lush rainforest. The soothing warm waters are perfect for relaxing tired muscles. For dinner, enjoy a casual meal back at your hotel, where you can continue to enjoy the tranquility of the forest setting.

Day 3: Fox Glacier and Departure

Morning: Travel to Fox Glacier and Lake Matheson On your third day, make the short drive to Fox Glacier, another stunning glacial area just a 20-minute drive south of Franz Josef. Before heading to the glacier, stop by Lake Matheson, famous for its mirror-like reflections of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. The walk around the lake is peaceful and offers fantastic photo opportunities, especially early in the morning.

Afternoon: Fox Glacier Guided Walk Book a guided walk with Fox Glacier Guiding for an intimate ground-level experience of Fox Glacier. This walk allows you to appreciate the sheer scale of the glacier and its rugged surroundings. The guides provide insightful commentary on the glacier’s current state and the impacts of climate change.

Evening: Departure or Extra Night Conclude your glacier hiking adventure by either starting your journey home or opting for an additional night in Fox Glacier. If staying, enjoy dinner at The Last Kitchen, which offers a cozy atmosphere and a menu featuring local produce and wild game.

Top Tips for Your Trip

  • Prepare for All Weather Conditions: The West Coast is known for its unpredictable weather. Waterproof and warm clothing is essential, even in summer.
  • Physical Fitness: Glacier hiking can be physically demanding. Ensure you are in good health and comfortable with walking on uneven surfaces.
  • Safety First: Always follow the guidance of your tour providers and respect all safety instructions and guidelines.
  • Advance Bookings: Both glacier hikes and accommodations should be booked well in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to ensure availability.