Photos of New Zealand

Photos from the Franz Josef Glacier

New Zealand has glaciers at some of the lowest altitudes in the world. Within an hour, it's possible to hike in the blue ice of glacial crevasses, walk through temperate rainforest found only in two other places in the world, and watch Dolphins and seals swim in the ocean.

There are many ways to explore the Franz Josef glacier. It's possible to easily walk to its base, or hire a guide to take you for a half day or full day hike a bit further up into the glacier, or - if you have the money and desire - to take a helicopter or airplane to explore the glacier by air. I chose the helicopter option, but with a twist. We landed high up on the glacier and with crampons and icepicks spent almost three hours hiking past deep crevasses and into blue ice caves. I loved it. If you're interested in arranging a heli-hike on the glacier, you can find more information at Heli-hiking.

We won't start with a debate about global warming. But it's true that this glacier, like all, have a history of ebb and flow. There are long and short duration cycles. It's not anywhere near where it was in 1750, but currently, Franz Josef is advancing, i.e. getting larger.
This is a view of the glacier from the ground. We're gradually getting closer. It looks a bit like a river doesn't it? In a way it is. At the top of the glacier, the ice is so thick that the pressure makes the ice underneath flow, much like it would if it were melted.
This is a view of the Franz Josef glacier from the chopper as we approached.
We flew very close to the glacier before moving on to our landing spot. The size of things was deceiving - even from the chopper. Everything shown here is large - the ice can jut upwards tens of feet. The blueness of the ice is just beginning to show.

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