glacier of a decision
Choices, choices. Along our trip we had asked fellow-travelers and our Airbnb hosts their opinion: Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier or both? We were keen on making the right decision, terrified of the horrendous FOMO. In addition to those two, there was also Mount Cook to throw in the mix of sights to see. Not to mention, we needed to figure out if we wanted to do a heli hike? We tallied up the recommendations, did a last minute check on reviews and the results all pointed to only one… Franz Josef!
Franz Josef Glacier
Once Devin realized that it wasn’t a hunky Austrian man that Ryann was chasing after, we put it in Google Maps and were on our way. We chose Franz Josef over the others because um hello, that’s the famous one. But seriously, we felt that we would’ve skipped one of New Zealand’s climax features had we not. In regards to the others, we decided that we would visit Franz Josef first and see if we needed to stop at Fox Glacier or Mt. Cook too. As it turned out, we were wholly content with only seeing FJ.
The Heli Hike
We didn’t do that either and we still left feeling nothing but satisfied with what we saw. We deliberated and considered the heli hike ever since we decided we wanted to travel New Zealand. We looked at the pricetag first- an average of $430 per adult to enjoy the helicopter ride over the glacier, put on some crampons, trek through some ice tunnels and take a picture or two. Maybe we should rename our blog to The Cheap Nomads (thoughts?) but honestly, we didn’t think our desire to do those things justified the money needed to be spent. If we wanted to be cold and trek though ice, we’d fly back to Ryann’s hometown in upstate New York. Now, we did realize this was a “once in a lifetime opportunity” and quite possibly a highlight in a lot of other traveler’s minds, but not us. We just weren’t that interested.
What do Hillary Clinton, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Sheryl Crow all have in common? They all share the same opinion on Global Warming. If there were any doubts before, after visiting Franz Josef, you’d join their company too. Maybe we should arrange a heli hike for some outspoken politicians.
Moving past the political banter, we entered directions to Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere, or better known to tourists as the Franz Josef walking track. We parked at the parking lot, grabbed a jacket and put on our hiking boots. The walk was about 1.5 hour long and considered relatively easy, featured over a rocky riverbed.
What inspired the Climate Change talk, were the signposts that the park had placed. They showcased the glacial decline from 2008 to 2012. You couldn’t help but feel dismayed and sincere shock at the change in such little time. Because of the melt, it is advised everywhere to stay on the clearly-marked path. Too many people have died, choosing to ignore these cautions. No need for any injuries or worse- simply for a picture or misguided curiosity.
No matter your political stance or personal opinion, we agree and recommend the stop to see this incredible glacier. Seeing the retreat and the signs of where it once stood, was definitely worth the drive and the walk. No one can argue the magnificence of nature’s massive hunk of ice. Whether you do the heli hike or not, the walking track is a must–see!