January 10: Franz Josef Glacier

Originally a farming community established on the flats of the Waiho and Tartare Rivers and Potters Creek that run into Lake Mapourika, Franz Josef sits at the base of the Gorge created by the retreating glacier of the same name. The terminal ice or glacier dominates the landscape between steep mountain cliffs, themselves blanketed in greenery and has been a tourist attraction since the early 1900s when the Graham brothers started their "tourist visit to the ice". A walk in the glacier valley is a must on a day of rest. The tumbling water over the sheer rock in narrow waterfalls dot the embankments. The glacier itself sits high up wedged between two mountains. In days gone by the glacier came almost to the town's edge but has rapidly receded due to a lack of annual snowfall and an increase in air temperature. In only a year it has lost over a kilometer to the elements. One can easily see this when looking down the valley. The valley carved through the years by the receding ice is a bed of grey rock covered with red and green lichen. It is also one of only three examples of temperate zone glaciers at sea level in the world. Another one sits just down the road -- Fox Glacier.

The tourist element is present throughout the village. One shop after another offers helicopter rides over or onto the top of the glacier. Hiking trails are honeycombed over the landscape. Kayaking is an option on the Lake. Even skydiving is listed as a favorite past time. In that it is a day off, each person can go their own separate way enjoying the time off the saddle. Massage seemed to be one of the more popular spots!

Franz Josef Village

Franz Josef's Daily View

Snow Capped in Summer!

A Walk Into Middle Earth

Deeper Into the Woods

Hobbit Territory!



And More!

Sue, Miriam, Jackie, Sharon -- On The Way to the Glacier

Jackie & Sharon: "Hi, Mom, Love You!"

Jackie By Some Falls

First Sight of Franz Josef Glacier

Ranger Jackie and Her Friend: "Halt, This is As Far As You Can Go!"

Franz Josef Slipping Away

Franz Josef Up Close

Sharon: "Hi Again Mom!"

Miriam: "He's My Friend Too!"

Sharon and Sue


Glacier Valley