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  • Writer's pictureJulie Wolbers

Hikes in Franz Josef Glacier: A Guide to the Best Trails

Hikes in Franz Josef Glacier

Nestled in the heart of New Zealand's West Coast, Franz Josef Glacier offers an array of stunning hikes that showcase the region's breathtaking landscapes. From serene walks through lush rainforests to challenging tracks leading to panoramic glacier views, there's a trail for every type of adventurer. Here, we break down the best hikes in Franz Josef Glacier, including details on each trail's unique features, hiking times and difficulty levels.


Alex Knob Track


Difficulty: Advanced

Approximate Time: 8 hours return

Highlights: This challenging day hike rewards adventurers with the best views of Franz Josef Glacier/Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere without the need for a helicopter. The trail ascends through dense rainforest before opening up to alpine terrain, offering unparalleled views of the glacier, Southern Alps and Tasman Sea.


Alex Knob Hiking Trail Franz Josef Glacier West Coast New Zealand


Roberts Point Track


Difficulty: Advanced

Approximate Time: 5 hours return

Highlights: This track is a true adventure, featuring swing bridges, rock scrambles and stunning viewpoints over the glacier. It's a physically demanding route that rewards hikers with incredible sights of Franz Josef Glacier and the surrounding valleys.


Hiker Overlooking Franz Josef Glacier From The Roberts Point Track Lookout

Peters Pool Walk


Difficulty: Easy

Approximate Time: 25 minutes return

Highlights: A short, family-friendly walk that leads to a small kettle lake. Peters Pool offers reflective views of Franz Josef Glacier and the towering peaks above, making it a perfect photo opportunity.


Douglas Loop


Difficulty: Moderate

Approximate Time: 2 hours return

Highlights: This loop provides a unique experience as it ventures through the native rainforest with little bridges crossing peaceful streams, gently undulating and a wide groomed track.


Hiking The Douglas Loop In Franz Josef Glacier

Sentinel Rock Walk


Difficulty: Easy

Approximate Time: 20 minutes return

Highlights: Ideal for those looking for a quick and rewarding outing, this short walk leads to an excellent viewpoint of Franz Josef Glacier. The path is well-maintained, making it accessible for most fitness levels.


Lake Wombat Track


Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Approximate Time: 1.5 hours return

Highlights: Winding through lush rainforest, this peaceful track culminates at the serene Lake Wombat. Surrounded by dense greenery, it's a perfect spot for a quiet picnic.


Glacier Valley Walk


Difficulty: Easy

Approximate Time: 45 minutes return

Highlights: This accessible walk leads part way up the valley floor, offering views of Franz Josef Glacier's terminal face.


Tatare Tunnels Walk


Difficulty: Moderate

Approximate Time: 80 minutes return

Highlights: Explore historic water tunnels and glow worms on this adventurous walk, requiring a torch for the dark sections.


Callery Gorge Walk


Difficulty: Easy

Approximate Time: 1.5 hours return

Highlights: A gentle walk that takes you through lush forest to a suspension bridge overlooking the stunning Callery Gorge. It's a fantastic option for nature lovers and families.


Callery Gorge Suspension Bridge Franz Josef Glacier


Canavans Knob


Difficulty: Easy

Approximate Time: 1 hour return

Highlights: Offering panoramic views of Franz Josef village, the Waiho River and the glacier, this short but steep walk is well worth the effort for the vistas alone.


Neils Creek


Difficulty: Easy

Approximate Time: 3 hours return

Highlights: A tranquil track that meanders alongside Neils Creek, showcasing the diverse flora of the Westland Tai Poutini National Park. It's a great choice for a leisurely stroll out to the ocean and beach.


Terrace Walk


Difficulty: Easy

Approximate Time: 30 minutes return

Highlights: Perfect for a quick nature fix, this in-and-out trail takes walkers through lush forest and past glow worm sites.


Gibb Trail


Difficulty: Easy

Approximate Time: 30 minutes return

Highlights: A less frequented trail that offers peace and solitude. The track is easy and flat and meanders through stunning established rainforest linking the highway to the heart of Franz Jozef Glacier township.


Whether you're seeking a leisurely walk or a challenging hike, Franz Josef Glacier has a trail that will satisfy your adventure spirit. Remember to prepare adequately for the weather and terrain, and always respect the natural environment you're exploring. Happy hiking!

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