The South Island’s most renowned explorer and geologist, Julius von Haast, named Franz Josef Glacier after the Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Franz Josef Glacier is a remnant of a much older, larger glacier which flowed from the alpine snowfields right to the sea. The glacier is over 7.5 miles long extending into the rainforest just 3 miles from the Franz Josef township, making it easy to visit. Walk to viewpoints and the terminal face or, for a close-up view of the spectacular ice formations, take a guided glacier walk, helihike or scenic flight.

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