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“Remarkable ice exploration - well worth the money” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Franz Josef Glacier Guides

Franz Josef Glacier Guides
State Highway 6, Franz Josef, Westland National Park (Te Wahipounamu) 8600, New Zealand
+64 3 752 0763
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$59*
and up
Ranked #7 of 18 Attractions in Franz Josef
Type: Tours, Adventure
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Owner description: The magnificent Franz Josef Glacier is widely regarded as the gen of New Zealand’s West Coast Glaciers.Franz Josef Glacier Guides gives you the opportunity to experience the most spectacular glacier environment available to the general public anywhere in the world, offering a range of glacier hiking tours to suit all levels of fitness and ability.We make a clear commitment to you that our trip is the most spectacular and rewarding available.
West London
Top Contributor
115 reviews 115 reviews
36 attraction reviews
Reviews in 60 cities Reviews in 60 cities
91 helpful votes 91 helpful votes
“Remarkable ice exploration - well worth the money”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 14, 2013

We drove up to Franz from Arrowtown, having booked a 3hr ice explorer trip at the Heartlands Info Centre in Queenstown for £320 for the two of us. Not cheap, but it included a helicopter ride on and off the glacier (it isn't accessible on foot) and the tour turned out to be fabulous and well worth the money. It'll be a really lasting memory of our time in New Zealand. We were kitted up (boots, thick socks, waterproof trousers, a heavy waterproof jacket, gloves and a small bag) and briefed on how to fit our crampons and how to board and exit the helicopter. The flight itself was short but scenic and we moved from the aircraft to a flat area of ice to fit our crampons. Our guide, an English guy called Milo, led us up onto the ice, telling us how to best plant our feet for maximum purchase. We were used to the crampons in a few minutes and I never felt unsafe. We explored ice caverns and caves (I was feeling brave and went through one I had to pull myself into on a rope on my belly and then shift into a crouch/crawl to get through the 10m cave. Scary, but exhilarating - only half the group did it but there was no pressure at all. There was a cave we could all walk through later, which was beautiful. The remarkable blue and brown and white striated ice was mesmerising. A camera was an absolute must. The ice cliffs got more and more dramatic as we ascended, and Milo explained the features we saw, including pointing out the line on the rocky cliffs behind that marked where the glacier had been in 2007. The ice moves down the valley by about 1m a day, so it is constantly changing and caves there one climb may well not be there the next - the guides go up and check each day. We were led through a narrow ice crevasse (breathing in!) and shown a gorgeous blue ice archway (it's blue as it refracts the light). The tour was interesting, informative and very beautiful - we loved it and were so pleased we went (even though I had previously visited a glacier in Norway). The pace also meant it was suitable for all-comers and I had time to snap away with my camera.

Visited February 2013
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Germany
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Fantastic Day”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 5, 2013

After a short but great heli flight onto the glacier, we did a 3 hour hike on the glacier. We got jackets, pants and boots down at the office. The tour was great and we had such a good time climbing up and through small passages in the ice. Our tour guide was a funny bloke from Britain. We were lucky to be in a group of only six people who were young and more or less fit so our tour guide let us hike more difficult passages than they usually do with other groups. Our whole group said it was one of the best days they had in a while. It is expensive but not to many can say they've hiked on a glacier!

Visited May 2013
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Brisbane, Australia
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
9 attraction reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Simply Amazing”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 29, 2013

I did the Ice Explorer trip on a beautiful winters day after a fresh snow fall.

This trip was worth every cent. The scenic helicopter ride up and back and a walk across and through the glacier afforded spectacular views and interesting experiences. Our brilliant and knowledgeable guide provided a wealth of information about the glacier and surrounding landscape and also had our entire group bonding and talking amongst ourselves - to the point we even shot a short video wedding message from the top for someone in the group who was sending a message to a friend getting married.

Make sure you take plenty of water up - my water bottle ran empty. It is actually a little warm in the sun but does cool off quite quickly when the sun goes behind the mountains in the afternoon. I probably had a few too many layers on with about 6 layers and got quite warm.

The trip also gets you access to the hot pools - definitely worth taking advantage of - although make sure you take a water bottle there as well.

Great experience, would highly recommend it.

Visited May 2013
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Queenstown, New Zealand
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6 reviews 6 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Beautiful but slow”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 12, 2013

The helicopter ride to the top of the glacier was exciting and the views from it breath taking. When landed, we met our guide Rich who was really friendly and informative. The next 3 hours on the ice however where just a little slow going for what we where expecting. It is beautiful on the glacier and fun to be able to say you've done, just be prepared for slow going. Thanks though to our guide who did a great job!

Visited May 2013
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Brisbane, Australia
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
9 attraction reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Wow! Loved it.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2013

My husband and I, along with my 60+ year old parents went on the Ice Explorer tour with Glacier Guides and really loved it. We were blessed with gorgeous sunny weather (apparently the trips were cancelled for about 5 days previous to this due to bad weather conditions), which made the experience extra nice.

The helicopter ride lasts only a few minutes, but provides a beautiful view of the Franz Josef Glacier. Upon landing we fitted our boot spikes for the ice and commenced exploring the glacier. The journey included gentle inclines as well as more difficult steps and climbs (both up and down). It was a good pace, both for us as well as my older (still fit) parents.

The tour guide was very friendly, professional and knowledgeable and for Australians who have never seen so much ice before it was a truly amazing experience. We didn't want to leave! Franz Josef Glacier Guides are a very professional business and the experience was seamless from start to finish. Equipment was great too.

Definitely a must-to in Franz Josef!

Visited April 2013
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