When I was in New Zealand, I did a lot of cool things. One of them was hiking on a glacier in Franz Josef. The Franz Josef and Fox glaciers are very popular tourist destinations on the South Island’s West Coast.
I was initially scheduled for a day of ice climbing on the glacier, but they don’t call it the “Wet Coast” for nothing – it was unfortunately raining and foggy and I couldn’t go. I pushed it back a day but even the next day, only the half day hike was available.
But that was okay, since I was still hiking on a glacier, after all.
The half day glacier hike (which I did through Franz Josef Glacier Guides) is about four hours long. You get some waterproof gear and some crampons since you’ll be walking on ice. Four hours is sadly not long enough to get to the freshest, bluest parts of the glacier, but it is still a really cool experience.
Glaciers are constantly moving and shifting, and the blue parts are the ones that have been most compressed.
I can definitely highly recommend a glacier hike in Franz Josef, or at nearby Fox Glacier.
I didn’t want to totally give up on ice climbing, though. Luckily for me, there is an indoor ice wall at Hukawai Glacier Centre. You can do a 45 minute taster session for $50, or a full hour and a half for $90.
I wish I could have climbed outside, but the taster session at the indoor wall was really cool too. My arms certainly were not in shape for hauling myself up a wall!
In conclusion, you should absolutely take the chance to hike on a glacier when possible. Remember when you’re visiting Franz Josef that the weather is very changeable, and if it’s the high season, everything might be booked up. If you give yourself a couple extra days, you will be more likely to actually get out on the glacier.