Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand
Some 140 glaciers flow from the Southern Alps, however only two (Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers) penetrate as far as the lower rainforests. Few sights equal the spectacle of these giant tongues of ice grinding down through temperate rainforest to just 250 meters above sea level (this is the only place outside Argentina where this occurs).
Visitors are often surprised to find such a warm/mild climate in Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand given the proximity of the glaciers and the highest peaks of the Southern Alps only a few kilometres from the township. Two guiding companies offer a variety of guided glacier walks and climbing experiences, to suit all ages and abilities. Heli-hikes and scenic flights with or without snow landings are also available.
Other activities include a variety of rafting experiences, white heron sanctuary tours, rainforest and coastal walks. Franz Josef township offers a range of quality accommodation, hotels, cafes, arts and craft retail, a general store and service station for motoring needs. Glacier country is a popular visitor destination, we recommend booking ahead in the peak summer season (from Dec-Feb).
Whataroa - the northern gateway of Glacier Country, is a small village that offers accommodation, a general store and service station. It is also the departure point for guided tours to view beautiful white heron (kotuku) breeding colony. Approximately 150 white herons nest here each year (this is their only known breeding ground in New Zealand).