What’s the difference between a Heli Ice Climb and a Heli Hike?

Posted by Tom @ Franz Josef Glacier Guides on 25 June 2015

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Helicopters, glaciers and ice…  it doesn’t get much more exciting than that. 

How about throwing in some stunning Glacier Country scenery and West Coast coastlines?  You might just about have the best thing on offer in New Zealand (well, that’s what we reckon anyway!)

If you’ve heard about heli trips onto Franz Josef Glacier and you’re wondering which is best for you, read on.

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Heli Hike or Heli Ice Climb?

These are quite different trips, so it’s worth understanding what the differences are so you can decide which one is best for you.

Both trips involve helicopters.  Both trips are on the ice.  But there are some major differences.

The Heli Hike is a guided hike.  Apart from clothing, the only special gear you need is a set of crampons over your boots (they’re provided).  On the Heli Ice Climb, we take things up a notch.  On this trip, you’ll be learning how to ice climb.  Apart from clothing, you’ll be using crampons with front points, an ice axe and climbing ropes (all provided). You’ll get expert tuition from our mountain guides and you’ll be having some serious fun.

The good news is you don’t have to be an expert mountaineer for either of these trips.  But you do need a good level of fitness for either trip.  The Heli Ice Climb is best suited to those with a good level of fitness.

The Quick Facts

Glacier Heli Hike

- Scenic heli flight
- Relaxed pace walk
- Guided hike over the glacier including informative commentary from guide.  Walk amongst stunning ice formations on the glacier
- Includes hot pools, glacier goodie bag
- 3 hrs /  2hrs on the ice
- Moderate difficulty

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Heli Ice Climb

- Helicopter transfer
- Adrenalin high, challenge yourself
- Learn to ice-climb on the glacier with expert tuition.  Trip is tailored to your level of ability.
- 5 hrs / 4 hrs on the ice
- Difficult

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Ice Climb on Franz Josef Glacier

It doesn’t get much cooler than combining a helicopter with ice climbing on a glacier.  This would have to be one of the most exhilarating experiences you can do in New Zealand.  We provide high-tech equipment and expert tuition.  You will need to be fit and able and willing to use an ice axe but you don’t need to have any previous experience ice climbing. 

Choose the Heli Hike for walking rather than climbing

The Glacier Heli Hike is the best trip if you want a gentle paced hike.  You get a longer, scenic helicopter flight and shorter time on the ice.  You’ll still need to have a moderate level of fitness and you’ll be rewarded with amazing sights on the glacier like blue ice, caves and crevasses.  The helicopter transfer drops you at about 850m and you’ll be on the ice for around 2 hours with lots of time to take photos!

So... choose what adventure you’re after, and what your fitness level is.  Whatever you do, just don’t choose to stay at home.


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