Heavy fog blanketed parts of Aotearoa earlier this week, wreaking havoc on flight plans for many travellers. We saw a bit of low cloud hover around the glacier at times this week too.
New Zealand’s weather is generally temperate, however because of our unique location in the world and the shape of our islands, the weather can be unpredictable at times and downright crazy at others! At this time of year (Autumn) you need to be prepared for both warm sun shine (pack sunblock) and a bit of rain (pack a jacket).
Add the impact of the dramatic Southern Alps and the result is a real mixed bag. Te Tai o Poutini (the West Coast) of Te Waipounamu (the South Island) is the wettest area of New Zealand, whereas the area to the east of the mountains (just 100km away) is the driest.
These variable weather patterns help shape the dramatic landscape we see at Franz Josef. The glacier itself is considered one of the most spectacular because of the rugged gradient it follows and the high rainfall of the area which falls as snow in the glacier catchment area (neve) when the temperature drops enough.
The high level of precipitation also keeps our rainforest lush, and is home to a stunning array of flora and fauna.
While the region and glacier wouldn’t be as breath taking without our dramatic weather, it can also have an impact on our trips.
We pride ourselves on putting safety before anything else and as such, when the weather conditions aren’t ideal, helicopters aren’t able to land on the ice. This means we sometimes need to reschedule our planned heli trips into the next available ‘weather window’.
The good news is there are lots of other great activities to do in Franz Josef while you’re waiting for the weather to clear.
Take an informative guided tour through the glacier valley area with our Glacier Valley Walk, relax in the Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools surrounded by natural rainforest, or meet New Zealand’s iconic bird, the kiwi, at the West Coast Wildlife Centre.
Whatever you have planned in our beautiful and wild West Coast region, we recommend spending at least a few days to allow for the impact of changeable weather. And remember to pack for four seasons in one day!