Visiting Franz Josef Glacier

Department of Conservation —  09/01/2015

By Lou Sanson, DOC Director-General

The Franz Josef Glacier is a popular spot for visitors to experience a dynamic glacial environment within easy driving and walking distance from the main highway.

Franz Josef glacier surrounded by rata trees in flower.

Franz Josef Glacier

One of the real ongoing challenges at Franz Josef Glacier is how we maintain glacier access in a dramatically receding glacial environment.

Franz Josef has around 500,000 visitors per year, with peak visitation at 4,000 per day in late December and early January.

Wayne Costello, Conservation Services Manager and Ranger Sean Hobson at Franz Josef Glacier.

Wayne Costello, Conservation Services Manager and Ranger Sean Hobson

Our team have come up with some novel approaches to deal with visitor safety, while enabling access.Track alignment is regularly done over the rock ridges near the glacier to enable good viewing.

Visitors will also meet a DOC Glacier Ranger (an alloy cut out of Services Ranger Mark Martini) which conveys important visitor and safety information. The cutout of the DOC Glacier Ranger has started to become a visitor attraction in its own right, with many visitors stopping to get their photo taken with Mark.

Lou Sanson with the DOC Glacier Ranger cutout at Franz Josef Glacier.

Lou Sanson with the DOC Glacier Ranger cutout


Visit Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier is located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast, 5 kilometres from Franz Josef township.