Whenever we’re asked what our favourite part of New Zealand is, Laurel and I usually ponder for a moment and both say “Franz Joseph glacier!” It’s definitely (and literally) the coolest thing we’ve done here.
And… also one of the more expensive things we did. You can brave the glacier yourself, if you have the proper gear and more importantly, the experience. But since I don’t know too many people who have carved their way into a glacier, I’m going to go with the fact that you, like us, would have to pay for a guided “tour.”
There are a couple of options for guides, but we went with Franz Joseph Glacier Guides. For $123 NZ, you and a group of people you’ve just met head up into a glacier for half a day. The best part? The glacier moves every day, so most of the time, the person guiding you has never been in that particular part as well. As we walked through, our guide actually hacked out part of the ice to make room for us.
As you’re on a strict 4.5 hour deadline (and navigating your way up and down a dangerous block of ice on top of dangerous rocks), the guides frown a bit at too many pictures and would prefer you to keep moving. So.. watch out for overzealous Swedish dudes who are picture happy. Luckily the price includes a warm jacket and crampons that you can use to hit the Swede in the head with.
It also includes “free” admission into the hot pools down the road, which minus the bees is pretty much the best thing to do after taking a long walk up a block of ice.
This is a must do – but as a warning, they are only open during certain parts of the year, usually just Summer (so Winter for the Northern Hemisphere). – Jennifer
PS – Laurel wants everyone to know that going through the glacier, she felt like Mr. Freeze in his ice palace and she was totally like “All right everyone: Chill”.