Franz Joseph Glacier and Fox Glacier

Christchurch to Franz Joseph

After our extremely short trip to Christchurch we were back on the road again.   We had a 5 hour drive ahead of us but our plan was to stop half way.   At around the half way point there was a waterfall to check out.  Who doesn’t want to see a waterfall?!?  We arrived and prepared for our hike to the waterfall but it turned out that it was a pretty short 30 minute walk so not really a hike.   The walk up was great and it was nice to break up the long drive to get out and see something.   After we made the hike and snapped a few selfies (check out those hoodies!) we ate lunch in the car to save some cash.  We hoped back on the road but quickly stopped at a lookout point for a view of the road twisting between the mountains.

We finally made our way into Franz Joseph and made our way into the hostel.  It turned out that the month we were in New Zealand was also the month that kids were off school.  This meant there were tons of families traveling.  We had a heck of at time booking places all over New Zealand last minute!  In Franz Joseph we opted for a 6 person dorm to save some money.   Staying in the 6 person dorm actually worked out great as most people were there to hike/explore and everyone went to bed pretty early.

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Visiting Fox Glacier

When you are staying in Franz Joseph you are close to two different glaciers.  Franz Joseph Glacier and Fox Glacier.  We decided we’d hit up the one further away the first day so we made our way over to Fox glacier.  We parked the car and made our way along a path that will take you right up to Fox Glacier.   Once we got there it was pretty…..unimpressive.   It was very dirty so it really just looked like rock for the most part and it wasn’t really huge or epic.  A river was coming out of the melting glacier but overall we both felt like it wasn’t all that interesting.  We came a long way to see this thing, you would think they could clean it or paint it a pretty blue color or something right?

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Visiting Franz Joseph Glacier

When you take your kids to Disney World (I’m looking at you here Phelan family), you take them to Epcot Center first and Magic Kingdom second.   You do this so they go in with low expectation and leave on a high note!  We’re both very glad we went to Fox Glacier first and ended up going to Franz Joseph second!   The day after we went to Fox Glacier we decided to head to Franz Joseph and see what it was all about.   We ended up going on a hike in the area and we could see it from a long ways away and it was much more impressive!   The hike to get out there was again along a river.  There were very steep cliffs on each side where you could easily see the glacier had been in the past.   Parts of the walk included multiple waterfalls coming down in one spot.  We could see various waterfalls throughout the walk up there.   Once we got to the “top” which was at the base of the glacier it was a great spot to stop and take it in.  It was really an impressive sight and Ashley and I finally saw the appeal after visiting Fox Glacier before.

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Lake Matheson Hike

One of the last things we wanted to see before we left the Franz Joseph/Fox Glacier area was Lake Matheson.  We had read this was a great hike to do and we were not disappointed.   The walk around the lake was excellent and the views were great the whole time.  It was a bit windy the day we went so we couldn’t get the picture perfect photos seen online but we still loved it.   We made our way to the far end of the lake and looked back to see the mountain range in the distance and it was really cool to see.  This capped off our trip time in Franz Joseph.  It’s worth noting that there was absolutely nothing worth noting about the towns of Franz Joseph and Fox Glacier.

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