Franz Josef Glacier | New Zealand

Franz Josef Glacier Guides, Ice Explorer

A short flight in a helicopter transported us to a completely different world on the ice…

New Zealand definitely offers some extraordinary experiences and Franz Josef did not disappoint! We were kitted out in warm layers and waterproof clothes before the helicopter arrived to whisk us away.  
Helicopter Franz Josef Glacier
The whirring blades generated a lot of wind and noise, which was both intimidating and exciting. We clambered in and buckled up and seconds later we were in the air.
Helicopter Franz Josef Glacier
Approaching the glacier, we had a great view. It is not a sight you see every day, that’s for sure! Looking down, we were a little bit anxious as to where we were going to land. However, before we knew it we were out on the ice and we were being shown how to attach crampons to our boots. For those of you who have never worn crampons, it is a strange sensation. It took us a few moments to adjust to the feeling and trust that we wouldn’t fall.

Some of the glacier appeared dirty and almost rocky, not quite as you might imagine. The guide explained that this is because it is melting and disappearing at an alarming rate each year. In the future there may not even be a glacier to see. A fact that made the experience even more special.
It wasn’t until we began climbing through the crevasses that we appreciated the true beauty of the glacier. The guides went ahead with pickaxes to carve the way and check it was safe.
Franz Josef Glacier

 We then followed one by one, sometimes using ropes to pull ourselves up. 

Despite being surrounded by walls of ice, we didn’t feel cold. The mittens provided were definitely appreciated though, especially when touching the ice to steady yourself!
Lots of photos were taken doing pickaxe poses – it had to be done! There were also plenty of obligatory explorer stance photos nearer the top, the cliche ‘I made it’ moment.
The trip was approximately 3 hours in total, but it flew by. Luckily the clouds didn’t close in. We were told if the weather had got bad we would have been stuck up there. The Ice Explorer is definitely a weather dependent activity. We were extremely lucky to have no problems, as it can often get cancelled, or postponed.
If you get the opportunity to do this I would highly recommend it. The trip is a little pricey, but it’s an unique experience and the glacier won’t be there forever. You also get free entry into the Franz Josef Hot Pools afterwards, which is a nice added bonus. They are lovely and relaxing!
Franz Josef Glacier
My pickaxe poseSimply stunning!

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