Franz Josef Glacier is one of New Zealand’s largest glaciers. Franz is beautiful, impressive, easily accessible, and probably the most famous and most popular, and that is why people want to see it, are interested in it, and there are always many visitors here. And if so, then let us also stop and take a closer look at this unique and popular creation of mother nature.

A bit of history

For the first time Europeans learned about the existence of the glacier in the middle of the nineteenth century. His description, and in all likelihood it was a Frantz Glacier, was found in the records of the ship’s magazine “Mary Louise” in 1859. But seven years earlier, in 1852, nineteen-year-old Leonard Harper had visited the area and even named the glaciers. He named the Franz Josef Glacier “Victoria” and the Fox Glacier “Albert. Unfortunately, the young Harper, through forgetfulness or ignorance, did not register these names, and they were lost forever.

The Franz Josef Glacier was formed about seven thousand years ago by a breakaway from a large glacier that existed here during the last ice age. Although the Maori legend says that the Franz Joseph Glacier is the tears of the beautiful and brave girl Hina Hukatera, turned by the almighty gods, who mourned the death of Tu Awe, a boy killed by an avalanche. The Maori called this glacier Ka Rjimata o Hina Hukater (the tears of Hina Hukater). In 1910, the Franz Josef Glacier, as well as the entire unique area of the West Coast, was taken under protection of the state, and since that year began his research.

Today the Franz Josef Glacier is one of the most visited places not only the park, but also all of New Zealand. The reason for its popularity, in addition to its beauty and unusualness, is its easy accessibility. The glacier originates at an altitude of three thousand years, in the high Alps. At its head you can see the huge Tasman and Kuk mountains, and then it is a long, twelve-kilometer ice stream descends directly into the coastal forests, not reaching the sea only nineteen kilometers. Franz like a river flows from the highlands, and the steady glacial movement constantly forms more and more new, diverse crevices, pinnacles, tunnels, creating a unique and constantly changing landscape of the glacier cover. This is due to the uneven valley floor in which the ice mass moves and its constant movement.

The Franz Josef Glacier.

Five kilometers from the glacier, on the left bank of the Wayhoe River, which originates where Franz ends, there is a small tourist village with the same name. A few short streets and Route 6, which is also the main street. The permanent population of the town is 441 people (2013 data). But a year in the town serves more than one million tourists, and in the hot season, its hotels, motels, cottages and campsites can accommodate about three thousand visitors a day.