Introducing Franz Josef Glacier
In the world of glaciers, Franz Josef is something of a rock star.
Meet Franz Josef Glacier, or, as its known in local Māori legends, Kā Roimata-a-Hine Hukatere (the frozen tears of Hine Hukatere).
From its origins high in the Southern Alps, the Franz Josef Glacier (Kā Roimata-a-Hine Hukatere) descends into the lush native rainforest of Westland's National Park. This descent occurs from a height of 3,000m above sea level to 240m over a distance of 11km, making it one of the steepest glaciers in the country.
It also moves faster than your average glacier at over 50cm per day, although speeds of up to four metres per day have been recorded in the main ice fall sections.
This creates some truly incredible features in the glacier such as ice caves, tunnels, seracs and crevasses; all of which are constantly changing and evolving so no two days are ever the same. Our guides craft their way through the terrain using their ice axe to find the most impressive glacier features and safest hike route.
Glaciologists consider Franz Josef to be a 'rock star' because of these factors and also because the glacier is readily accessible being located in a temperate rain forest. In fact, it has the lowest terminal face elevation of any glacier that flows into a temperate rainforest in the world - that's pretty special!