Home: Hotspots: Franz Josef Glacier

Camping below Franz Josef Glacier - South Island


Franz Josef glacier and the nearby Fox Glacier are the two largest glaciers in New Zealand.
Both glaciers originate in the ice plateaus of the upper Westland National Park.

The glacier is formed by snow falling on the mountain peaks above compressing to ice and being drawn by gravity in to the valleys below. The force of the ice above pushes the glacier down the valley until the warmth of the air below begins to melt the ice and it flows down the river to the sea.

The terminal of the glacier is accessible by foot and is visited by hundreds of visitors to the area every day.

The Franz Josef glacier is currently retreating due to the rate of the melting glacier being higher than the rate of snow and ice falling in the plateaus above.

Guided walks on the glacier are available and several expeditions depart from Franz Joseph every day.

Scenic flights over the glaciers, Westland and Mt Cook National Parks are also available from the village along with helicopter snow landings.