Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers


As we left Greymouth on the 2nd January our next stop was Glacier Country – Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. We had heard about Arthur’s Pass an hour detour on our route to the glaciers where you could walk to see a waterfall I had researched before we even got I New Zealand called Devils Punchbowl.

The road we drove on was probably the most beautiful scenic road I have ever been on. It was a huge gorge with lots of bridges, rock bridges and gushing rivers (Being a structural engineer Chris was in his element). It was our first rainy day since the start of our road trip but it didn’t matter it made everything more dramatic and as Chris said it would ‘top up’ the waterfall!

As we got to the track for Devils Punch Bowl it was still raining but it was only a 30 minute walk all uphill, I was knackered think I need to go back to the gym. As we approached the waterfall we caught a lady having a wee (they do say running water makes you need a wee). The waterfall was huge and just how I imagined it although the pictures I had seen previously were taken from a helicopter and I didn’t dare climb up the rocks (wimpy Lucy is back guys). When we got back to the car we were soaked I managed to hold my wee until I got to the cafe after seeing the lady I didn’t want to take any chances. We had a hot chocolate to warm up and set off to FranzJosef.

The drive to Frans Josef was 3 hours and by the time we got there the weather had cleared up. You can drive to the car park through about 500 give way speed bumps and then the walk to the glacier is about an hour. The walk was absolutely beautiful and the scale of the whole glacial valley (geography is kicking in) was really amazing. The walk took us through the glacial valley river bed to about 250m away, it was shocking to see how much the glacier had retreated since 2008! They used to let people walk on the glacier where we walked but as it had retreated so much it was now considered too unsafe. The ice was a light blue colour and it really was special. On the walk back to the car I got a bit daring and climbed on a rock under a waterfall for a picture (Lara Croft or what?).

We then drove the 20 minutes to Fox Glacier town checked in at our backpackers which was called Ivory Towers. It’s a lodge style backpackers and I overheard the owner telling someone it used to be a garage. It is very basic but it was clean and our room had a TV which is rare in this style accommodation. The lady who ran the backpackers made her own reviews of all the DVDs she owned rating them out of 10 (Chris took this very seriously and wouldn’t watch one rated under 8).

There really isn’t much to do in Fox Glacier Town and I would recommend to anyone coming here on a tight timescale that if you have a full day you can see both glaciers in a day and only stay one night.

On Sunday morning we had quite a late morning as we were pretty tired (boohoo) and then skyped our best friends Emma and Scott for an hour which was lovely. We then went to Fox Glacier to see which this had in store. The two glaciers are very much the same although you can get closer to Fox and see it in more detail, I would say the walk to Frans Josef is more striking – both are worth a visit!

On Sunday afternoon we visited Lake Matheson and then went out for a meal at the Last Kitchen!

Let’s see what Wanaka has in store next.


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