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Fox Glacier or Franz Josef?

Updated: May 9

Exploring the Wonders of Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers: A Guide to New Zealand's Glacier Country


When planning a visit to New Zealand's glacier towns nestled on the rugged West Coast, one question often arises among adventurers: What sets Franz Josef Glacier apart from Fox Glacier? Is it worth exploring both? With their own unique allure, these glacier towns present distinct experiences, choosing between them is a delightful question to ponder and one that is truly dependent on your personal interests. As long-time residents of Glacier Country and professional nature guides, we're here to shed light on the characteristics of each destination.


 

Franz Josef Glacier

 

Renowned for its accessibility and family-friendly atmosphere, Franz Josef Glacier is the largest of the two towns with a diverse array of amenities and activities.



Hiker At The End Of Ropberts Point Trail Looking Over Franz Josef Glacier

 

Town Services: Offering a vibrant array of bars, cafes, restaurants, retail stores, day spas, hot pools, wildlife centres and accommodations, Franz Josef Glacier provides a bustling hub for visitors. The town also hosts a wide range of guided tours and hikes to cater to various interests and levels of adventure.



Monsoon Bar And Restaurant Franz Josef Glacier

 

Accessibility: Many of the area's hikes are conveniently located within walking distance or a short drive from the town centre, making exploration almost effortless!



Hiker On The Summit Of Alex Knob Track Looking Over Franz Josef Glacier

 

Luxury: For those seeking a touch of luxury, Franz Josef Glacier offers upscale experiences, including accommodations like Rainforest Retreat & Te Waonui Forest Retreat, relaxing Waiho Hot Tubs and indulgent spa treatments at Te Waonui Forest Retreat.



Rainforest Retreat Luxury Tree House Accommodation

 

Glacier Experience: The key difference between the two glaciers lies in Franz Josef Glacier's steeper terrain, offering more dramatic ice formations. Guided tours on the main icefall provide an unforgettable adventure. If you're fit, feeling adventurous & looking to get as close to the glacier as possible without needing to jump on a helicopter, join us on our Franz Josef Full Day Private Tour where we guide you to a stunning viewpoint.

 

Diverse Hiking Opportunities: With a plethora of trails suitable for all skill levels, Franz Josef Glacier beckons adventurers with its scenic waterfalls, wildlife encounters, underground caves and reflective lakes. Glacier Valley Eco Tours offers guided half-day and full-day tours suitable for all fitness levels. We also offer private, tailored tours. By opting for one of our guided tours, you will receive an enriching and educating hiking experience and leave with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the area.



Franz Josef Glacier Waiho River

 

Natural Attractions: Don't miss the chance to visit Lake Mapourika for picnics and swimming during the summer months or explore the vast Okarito lagoon & forest on our Discover Okarito tour.



Okarito Lagoon West Coast New Zealand

 

Fox Glacier

 

For a more traditional West Coast experience, Fox Glacier beckons with its intimate charm and breathtaking scenery.

 

Ancient Rainforest: Immerse yourself in the tranquility of Fox Glacier's 'older growth' forest, offering a rare glimpse into an ancient ecosystem untouched by time.

 

Glacier Experience: Nestled within a narrow valley, the Fox Glacier valley provides a more intimate encounter with the glacier, surrounded by awe-inspiring geological formations.



Mount Tasman From Fox Glacier Southern Alps New Zealand West Coast

 

Spectacular Views: Marvel at the geological wonders and panoramic vistas of Mt. Tasman and Aoraki Mount Cook, offering a visual feast for nature enthusiasts and photographers alike.

 

Lake Matheson: Experience the iconic Lake Matheson, offering unparalleled views of Mt. Tasman and Mt. Cook, complemented by a delightful café amidst nature's splendour.



Lake Matheson Fox Glacier

 

Local Attractions: Explore Gillespies Beach for wildlife sightings and scenic hikes, embracing the relaxed pace of life in Fox Glacier.

 

Choosing Your Glacier Country Adventure

 

Both Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier promise unforgettable experiences, catering to different preferences. Franz Josef offers a dynamic and accessible adventure suitable for all ages and abilities, while Fox Glacier invites travellers seeking a deeper connection with the local community and a more off-the-beaten-path vibe. Whether you crave vibrant town life or rugged wilderness, your glacier town exploration awaits, promising moments of awe and wonder amidst nature's magnificence.

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