Hard at work on Franz Josef Glacier


For a Glacier Guide, a normal day involves loading helicopters, cutting ice-steps, running safety checks and helping hikers through the amazing landscape of a glacier.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a glacier guide?

It'a a lot of hard work! 

BE a storyteller (and a glaciologist)

Glaciers are one of nature’s most fascinating occurrences.  When guests find themselves walking amongst blue ice it sparks their curiosity.  So whether it’s how a glacier is formed or facts and figures on the planet’s glacier population, there’s a lot of knowledge needed to answer all those questions.

A great guide has the perfect mix of informing and entertaining.  Want to know about the complete history of mountaineering on the West Coast? Yup, they can tell you about that.  The Maori legend of Kā Roimata o Hinehukatere?  No problem!  It’s all part of being a great guide.



Be fit

This is a glacier, there’s a lot of hiking involved!  Each day guides hike in heavy boots and crampons.  Guides do a lot of physical work in a day, whether it’s cutting steps into the ice, carrying gear or helping hikers, this is a physical job.  Anyone interested in the job must be mountain-fit!



Safety first

Without a doubt the most important aspect of this job is safety.  A commitment to safety is entrenched in the culture of Franz Josef Glacier Guides and all the team are part of ongoing training, reviewing and monitoring.

Here are a couple of things guides are involved in to ensure safety:

-       All new guides undergo several weeks of training and assessments before they begin guiding (with a senior guide).  Training, reviews and assessments are on-going for all staff regardless of how long they have been with the company.

-       All staff hold (or work toward achieving) The New Zealand Mountain Guide Associations’ Hard Ice Certificate.

-       Guides are part of the company’s safety procedures including the Safety Management Systems which is audited externally and internally.

(Franz Josef Glacier Guides is accredited by Telarc for the Adventure Activities Regulations and ISO standard 4801. We are also audited by Qualmark, New Zealand’s official quality mark issued to operators when the highest standards of operation excellence are met.)

 Gabe guide profile



What really drives people to become a glacier guide is often a passion for the mountains.  Guides who work here come to us with skills and experience in a range of outdoor pursuits.  In fact, it’s normally pretty hard to get these guys and girls to stay inside for too long.  It’s what makes it so special to do a glacier hike with us.  The passion and respect for the mountain environment is infectious.


So now you know what it takes to work as a glacier guide you’re probably wondering what an average “day at the office” looks like.

Have a look at this collection of photos of the amazing guys and girls that guide on Franz Josef Glacier.  Here they are, working hard to deliver the most incredible glacier experience… while making it all look easy!





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