Ice Blocks on Walk to Franz Josef Glacier - PHOTOGRAPHER COMMENT
This panorama was taken from the bottom of the valley leading up to Franz Josef Glacier. The tongue of the glacier can be seen several hundred meters up the valley. In the foreground, on the moraine, are white blocks of ice. These would have been transported in a local flood and deposited here a short time before, possibly during the previous day when a cyclone battered the West Coast. Another panorama shows a nearby waterfall.
Ice Blocks on Walk to Franz Josef Glacier - FURTHER INFORMATION
Ice Blocks on Walk to Franz Josef Glacier - Franz Josef Glacier visitor guide showing a virtual tour of 'Ice Blocks on Walk to Franz Josef Glacier' linked to an interactive map with local and travel information. 360° panoramas from West Coast.
Franz Josef Glacier is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the whole of New Zealand. Starting in the Southern Alps on the West Coast, it is the steepest glacier in the world, descending nearly 2500m in just 11km. Franz Josef is also very fast flowing with advance and retreat speeds of up to 10cm a day being recorded.
Because glaciers continually move the terrain and conditions both around and within them continually change. From time to time internal lakes can form within the glacier. This called a Jökulhlaup. Localized flash floods can occur when a Jökulhlaup bursts, which can release vast amounts of water. In 1989 one such flood destroyed a bridge on the access route. Flooding can also be expected after periods of heavy rain. At such times, large blocks of ice may be cleaved from the glacier and deposited on the valley floor, there to slowly melt and providing an interesting spectacle for visitors, with ice on dry land quite a distance from the glacier itself. Floods may also cause the rivers flowing from the glacier to change level and direction without warning.
TRAVEL DIRECTIONS AND GETTING THERE
Road: The Franz Josef Township is on Highway 6, 24km north of Fox Glacier township and 145km north of Haast. It is 172km south of Greymouth. The trail to the glacier starts from a parking lot 5km from Franz Josef. It takes about 40 minutes to walk out to the glacier along the valley floor.