South Island Glaciers


FGG walking on ice Southern Alps NZWestland Tai Poutini National Park, on New Zealand’s South Island, is home to the 12 kilometer long Franz Josef Glacier. First explored in 1865 by Julius von Haast, a German geologist and explorer. Von Haast named the glacier Franz Josef, in a tribute to the Austrian Emperor, although the native Māori called it Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere (The tears of Hinehukatere).

The Franz Josef Glacier dissects the South Island landscape, origination in the Southern Alps and stretching deep inside rainforest of Westland’s National Park, descending from an impressive 2700 metres above sea level to just 240 metres.

Unlike most glaciers around the world, Franz Josef is easily accessible to the public, with commercial guides allowed to offer glacier tours to visitors. It has become one of South Island’s most popular tourist attractions, with over 250,000 visitors every year.


Franz josef activities

Franz Josef Glacier Guides

Experience of the Franz Josef Glacier up close with a guided tour. One of New Zealand’s best loved tourist activities, Franz Josef is accessible to the public and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not be missed.

Offering a range of glacier hiking tours to suit all abilities and fitness levels, Franz Josef Glacier Guides will deliver you from Franz Josef to imposing glacier, by helicopter, to take on the rugged terrain under the supervision of a highly trained, local glacier guide.

Find out more about Franz Josef Glacier Guides.

Glacier Hot Pools

Escape the cold of the glaciers and relax in the warm waters of this luxurious oasis in the heart of the rainforest. Revive your body and mind, and unwind in the heated glacial waters of the public pools or leave the world behind in your own private hot pool.

A great way to recover from a long hike or day on the slopes, find out more about Glacier Hot Pools.

Accommodation in Franz Josef

Just 5 kilometres Franz Josef Glacier is a town by the same name. The town of Franz Josef is small, but hospitable, and the perfect launching pad for glacier exploration. Find out more about accommodation in Franz Josef.


 tasman glacier

Upper Tasman GlacierAt an incredible 27 kilometres, the Tasman Glacier is New Zealand’s longest. The Tasman originates from the South Island’s Southern Als and flows south, dividing the Mount Cook and Aoraki National Park.

For skiers, the Tasman is quite a treat, with a reputation for having some of New Zealand’s best powder and offering up some incredible, but hard to reach, slopes. 




Rob roy glacier

rob roy glacierFollow the Rob Roy hiking track into the Mount Aspiring National Park for some of South Island’s most spectacular scenery.

Towering above the Rob Roy Valley, the Rob Roy Glacier isn’t the biggest of the Southern Alps glaciers, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in beauty.

Find out more about Rob Roy Glacier





Fox Glacier New ZealandFox Glacier originates from the Southern Alps of New Zealand’s South Island and is twinned with Franz Josef Glacier. Named after New Zealand’s former Prime Minister Sir William Fox, and stretching 13 kilometres, the Fox Glacier is the longest of the South Island, West Coast glaciers.

See why people prefer Franz Josef
Franz Josef or Fox Glacier




volta glacierLocated in the picturesque Mount Aspiring National Park, the Volta Glacier originates from the Southern Alps, like many of the glaciers on New Zealand’s South Island. Separated into an upper and lower glacier, Volta’s two halves are joined by an icefall (frozen waterfal).







New Zealand’s South Island enjoys a mild, temperate climate, dropping to below -1o in the winter months of June and July, and reaching 21.8o during the summer months of January and February. From East to West, weather conditions vary widely. Year round, the West receives massive rainfall and the East, in contrast, remains fairly dry throughout.

That being said, you’ll find New Zealand weather to be unpredictable all year round, so on your next visit, be prepared for all conditions.


Things To Do In Winter in New Zealand’s South Island?

If you are visiting New Zealand’s South Island this winter, here are a few articles you might enjoy:


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