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Franz Josef Glacier: What guide, what times?

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Milwaukee, WI
posts: 51
reviews: 43
Franz Josef Glacier: What guide, what times?

I'm planning a trip to NZ and will be on the West Coast in late October. We'd like to do a glacier hike, but I would like to hear other's experiences. I've seen that Franz Josef Glacier Guides and Glacier Valley Eco Tours both offer guided service. Can anyone provide a recommendation?

Also, is there a prime time for avoiding the tour buses? I'll have a car and can avoid peak times if necessary. Is a full-day advisable over a half-day? My wife and I are 30 and in good shape.

Nelson, New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
posts: 21,824
reviews: 48
1. Re: Franz Josef Glacier: What guide, what times?

Hi :)

Don't worry about tour buses, Franz isn't the Grand Canyon when at times you can't move for tourists. The times I have been there you barely notice others, except to say hi as you pass on the access trail.

I haven't done the glacier hike so can't comment on which to take. The glacier Guides have an excellent reputation, I haven't heard of the Eco tours (which shouldn't necessarily be taken as a negative... I don't live in the area and so my knowledge is limited).

With your fitness levels, you might enjoy the full day hike more. It allows longer on the ice and with a higher level of fitness required, you get to do more.

Tours are cancelled due to bad weather so if you have two days at the glaciers best to schedule your hike for the first opportunity. Then if it is postponed you will still have a good chance of going. Take your camera fully charged, I have seen some awesome photos from the hikes.

And please let us know which tour you do and how it goes. It will be an enormous help to others who can't decide which one to do :)

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for Zhuhai, Macau
posts: 20,744
reviews: 204
2. Re: Franz Josef Glacier: What guide, what times?

Did you notice it clearly states on the Glacier Eco Tour site that they don't go ONTO the glacier? NZ National Parks tightly manage concessions to run businesses to minimise unproductive competition so those two companies occupy different niches in the market. It takes an hour or so to walk from the carpark to the glacier so a half day walk includes around 2 hours on a track & a max 2 hours on the ice, whereas the full day hike spends many more hours on the ice. You can climb higher.

Milwaukee, WI
posts: 51
reviews: 43
3. Re: Franz Josef Glacier: What guide, what times?

Just a follow-up to this posting. We went with the FJ Glacier Guides, and the day was spectacular! If you think you're fit enough, take the full-day. It's likely the only way to see the things from the pictures and brochures. Even a half-day at least gets you to the ice. Anything less, just driver yourself and walk up the ice to see it. No charge for that.

4. Re: Franz Josef Glacier: What guide, what times?

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