What sounds like more fun? Learning about glaciers in the classroom, or getting out onto the ice and experiencing a glacier firsthand? Our guess is if you ask kids that question, they'll take the real-life glacier experience any day. There’s no YouTube video that comes close to the real thing.
Franz Josef Glacier Guides offers a truly spectacular glacier experience on the West Coast of New Zealand (also known as Glacier Country). What makes this place so special is the range of options available for kids who want to experience the glacier.
Exploring Franz Josef Glacier from the valley floor is an easy way for kids of any age to witness the mighty river of ice at work. An easy walk along the valley floor gets hikers to a viewing area where they can observe Franz Josef Glacier carving its way through the forest. Kids are sure to be impressed by the size of the glacier and the telltale signs on the valley floor and walls showing where the glacier has previously travelled.
For the older and more adventurous kids, Franz Josef Glacier Guides offers an amazing opportunity to hike on a glacier. Better than anything on offer in the classroom, kids can hike Franz Josef Glacier on a Heli Hike tour from the age of 8 years or the Ice Explorer tour from 12 years.
Any children with a good level of fitness (don’t all kids?) and a huge dose of enthusiasm will enjoy the trip. A helicopter transfer onto the ice is a great way to start the trip with a buzz, and there’s more excitement to follow once you land on the ice. Decked out in hiking boots, crampons and wet weather gear, junior glacier enthusiasts will relish the opportunity to immerse themselves in the extraordinary landscape of a glacier.
Our little treasures will be sure to let us know if they aren’t happy in any way. So, to make sure your glacier trip is a happy experience, here are a couple of top tips to make sure the kids stay happy during their glacier experience.
With a fair amount of hiking involved in any glacier experience, it’s really important to make sure kids have comfortable boots that are waterproof and supportive. Franz Josef Glacier Guides provides appropriate boots that are suitable for wearing with crampons. Kids can wear their own boots, just bring them into Glacier Base before the tour and the team will make sure they’re suitable. This is not the day to break in a brand new pair of boots.
It will be colder up on the glacier, so you’ll need to dress the kids up nice and warm. But it’s also worth remembering that kids will exert themselves as they hike through the icy landscape. Wearing layers is the best way to manage the fluctuation in body temperature.
Little people can burn through energy a lot faster than big people. Stash a muesli bar or two in your pocket and have it ready to pull out when energy levels get low.
You wouldn’t venture onto the ice without your sunnies, it’s no different for kids. Walking on a giant river on ice on a sunny day is going to be very bright, no surprises there. A good pair of sunglasses will protect young eyes from the reflective surface of the glacier.
Kids love to do a bit of research for themselves, so get them to do some glacier learning before their trip. It’s a great way to have questions ready to ask their glacier guide. National Geographic do a great page on glacier learning as does the New Zealand Science Kids page. Kids can impress their teachers with their glacier knowledge when they’re back in the classroom.
With Christmas around the corner, a Franz Josef Glacier Guides gift voucher could be the best present in this year’s Christmas stocking. It’s hard to beat a once in a lifetime experience.
The minimum age for children on the Heli Hike is 8 years and 12 years on the Ice Explorer.