Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers – it’s not just about glaciers – so make sure you pack your hiking boots. Travelling through New Zealand in our winter months, sometimes pays off. Because there’s no better time to see the magnificent Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. Okay, it’s crispy cold but in the winter, the West Coast skies are the purest blue.  That means there’s no –  not until November. There’s more to this area than meets the eye. Read travelling the Westcoast in the off season.

Exploring Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers

Travellers usually start in the north of the South Island, so they visit Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers first. And this is where they normally stay. Fox Glacier has ravishing views and very accessible glaciers. There’s a great village vibe nearby. Gillespie Beach is about 25kms from Fox Glacier and definitely worth a visit. But before you do, check the tides first.  If you make it to Gillespie Beach, take the beach walk to the miners tunnel and the seal colony. Its actually not that strenuous- there’s a lot of well maintained boardwalks. I guarantee, the views are awesome so don’t forget to take your camera.

Hiking or flying with landing on Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers

Now Franz Josef has a different ‘feel’ about it. Firstly, the Franz Josef glacier walk is shorter.  Its steeper and busier. That type of ‘buzz’ does have it’s appeal to some, but the quieter Fox Glacier is a great option as well. Go with a local operator such as Fox Alpine Guides.


Franz Josef has the added attraction of a fabulous modern natural hot spring complex. At the end of the day there’s nothing nicer than relaxing in and gazing at the steam wafting by.  While in Franz Josef, don’t forget to drop by the Kiwi House, it’s incredibly special to see these native birds. Whatever glacier you choose to visit, a helicopter ride is a must. Its an unforgettable experience – especially if you land on the snow.

Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers – it’s not just about glaciers – Dining options

Dining options in both areas is, how shall I say, on the rustic side, but there will be something for everyone. This includes Asian and European cuisine. One of our favourite accommodations, is Holly Homestead in Franz Josef.  Its a lovely restored double-storied heritage villa with breakfast included.

Now pack those boots!

Some more helpful travel planning blogs for New Zealand:

Happy Travelling at Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers!

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