GLACIER HELI HIKE
Our world-renowned Glacier Heli Hike is the NZ Must Do not to be missed.
With the combination of an exhilarating helicopter ride, jaw-dropping scenery and a two hour hike through the most spectacular glacier features, it's no wonder our guests often label their Glacier Heli Hike as the highlight of their visit to Aotearoa (New Zealand).
Your journey starts at our glacier base in Franz Josef Village where our friendly team will check you in, get you kitted out with the essential gear and give you a pre-trip briefing.
From here, your guide will lead you a on a short walk through native forest to the heli pad and get you ready to board your helicopter. Adrenaline levels start to spike as you board your helicopter and our highly trained pilot then whisks you away over the jaw dropping landscape - an opportunity to take in the full panoramic majesty of Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere nestled within the surrounding mountains.
Your pilot will land you high up on the glacier itself, where your guide will help you make the final preparations for your hike before you head off to explore the pristine features of this incredible icescape.
Our guides are highly skilled in the art of step cutting, which means we can find you both the safest and most spectacular route available on the glacier. Because the glacier is so fast moving, its features are constantly changing - you might find yourself sliding through a narrow crevasse or between towering walls of ice, crawling through blue ice tunnels, hanging out in ice caves, or witnessing the glacier calving. You can be sure that you're seeing the glacier in a unique state and no two trips are ever quite the same.
During your hike your guide will share with you the story of Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere, their knowledge of the glacier and surrounding area and insight on why Franz Josef is so unique. You'll come away from your trip not only with a sense of awe at this majestic beauty, but a whole new understanding of why this precious landmark is so special.
Child (ages 8 – 16)
Up to 3.5 hours
Call for tour times
Up to 2 hours
Guide to guest ratio
1 to 11
A short scenic helicopter transfer flying over the glacier valley and landing on the ice.
A two hour guided tour on the glacier exploring key features with your friendly and knowledgeable guide.
Up to two hours spent on the ice hiking the glacier and exploring features.
My favourite thing about the glacier is how much it moves, each trip really is different because it is constantly changing. Keeps it interesting! "
CAN I DO IT?
A reasonable level of fitness and agility is required.
The glacier terrain is variable and reasonably challenging. We provide you with all the gear you need to walk on the ice including boots, crampons and trekking poles, and your guide carries an ice pick so they can maintain your path as your trip progresses. You will, however, need to be agile enough to navigate the glacier features and fit enough to hike for a two-and-a-half-hour period.
While the route changes from one day to the next, you can expect to be on the ice for around two and a half hours, walking for much of that time but with frequent stops to explore the features, hear some stories and information and of course make the most of photo opportunities.
There will usually be some uphill components of the hike route but these are generally short bursts rather than long climbs. There are also various glacier features to navigate including crevasses and narrow paths. A reasonable level of fitness and agility is therefore required to negotiate this type of terrain, but if you're comfortable with walking for over two hours then you will most likely be capable of completing our Glacier Heli Hike trip.
PREPARING FOR YOUR TRIP
Get the most out of your Glacier Heli Hike.
We want all of our guests to have the best possible time on our Heli Hike experience. We provide all the gear and equipment you need to stay warm, dry and safe while exploring the ice and ask that you come prepared with suitable clothing and accessories that will keep you comfortable as well.
- Suitable walking boots and socks
- Trekking poles
- Waterproof jackets
- Waterproof over-pants
- A small waist pack to carry your crampons and essentials
- A warm hat and gloves
Please bring with you:
- Warm, breathable base layers such as merino or polypropylene
- Suitable long pants for walking in (jeans are not suitable, tracksuits and leggings are fine)
- Sunglasses (these are essential - if you don't have any with you we have a selection available for purchase at our front desk)
- Your own warm hat and gloves if you prefer
- Your camera or phone
- A small water bottle and snack if you need one
Please leave the following items behind:
- Your valuables such as passport, wallet and car keys (we have lockers available for hire)
Thinking of heading to the Hot Pools after your trip? Remember to bring your swimming gear with you, you can store your belongings in our lockers for $2. Towel hire is also available for $5 at reception.
Great experience and very unique! Great guide and very well taken care of.
Knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff on a world class site, what's not to love?
The scenery is breathtaking and the experience completely worth the money. The guide ensures your safety and makes you feel looked after.
FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER HOT POOLS
Your glacier trip includes access to the Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools. What better way to relax after a day in the valley than in the rejuvenating warmth of our hot pools?
Your experience with us would not be complete without spending some time reflecting on your adventure in the relaxing surroundings of the Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools. Entry to the main pools is complimentary with your Franz Josef Glacier Guides experience, and access to the pools is through the same reception area that you check in for your Glacier Guides experience.
The hot pools are intimately nestled in the lush surrounds of native rainforest and offer three main pools of varying temperatures in which to unwind. As well the three main pools, our facility also offers three private pools available to Franz Josef Glacier Guides' guests for the exclusive upgrade rate of $41.
Our spa and massage facilities are just the thing for aching muscles; treat yourself to a relaxing massage from one of our therapists or an uplifting facial treatment. The perfect end to an unforgettable day.
We adhere to the highest safety standards to ensure ongoing safety for both our guests and our team.
We will be delighted to welcome you as a guest on our Glacier Heli Hike provided you:
- Weigh less than 115kg (253.5lb)
- Are not pregnant
- Are over the age of 8 years old, the weight of 35kg and the height of 137cm tall
- Are not under the influence of intoxicating drugs or alcohol
- Have not been assessed by a lead guide as lacking the required fitness to complete the trip
Pre-existing medical conditions
Existing or previous medical conditions including (but not limited to) those listed below may have an impact on your ability to participate in our Glacier Heli Hike. It's important that you advise us of the following when making your booking:
- Ankle or knee injuries
- ACL damage
- Joint replacements or dislocations
- Neck or back injuries
- Heart conditions and high / low blood pressure
- Severe asthma
If you have any doubt about your ability to participate in the trip we recommend you consult your medical practitioner prior to booking.
In addition to this, our lead guides may need to restrict guest participation on a Heli Hike Trip based on the specific conditions of the glacier on the day.
The changeable weather that shapes our dramatic landscape on the West Coast can also impact our ability to operate. We will not compromise the safety of our guests or staff in any circumstance, so if the weather conditions mean it's not safe to operate a trip we will cancel it. All trips cancelled due to weather will be refunded.
We need a four-hour window of clear weather to operate our Heli Hike, and because the weather is so changeable we are constantly monitoring weather reports and conditions on the glacier to make the safest and most accurate decision.
Since we usually make the final weather call just before the trip departure, the best way to stay informed is to come into our base building at 63 Cron Street and check with our team on the morning of your scheduled trip.
We understand that you would ideally like more notification for a trip cancellation but since the weather conditions and trip departure status often change right up until the departure time this isn't usually possible. In the event of extreme or prolonged weather events (such as severe storms or road closures) where there is no chance of trips operating for a sustained period, we will try to contact customers in advance.
We also have a weather line available on our main number 0800 484 337 which is updated every morning. You're welcome to call this number for the most up to date information of the current weather conditions.
You’re welcome to come in and chat to our friendly team for an update on weather conditions, to reschedule your trip or arrange your refund.
If you can manage it, we recommend spending at least two days in the Franz Josef region to allow the best chance of getting onto a Heli Hike trip.