The tiny New Zealand town of Franz Josef is most known for one thing: its 12km long glacier. The guidebooks say that, during the summer high season, helicopters are constantly shuttling tourists to the top of the glacier for incredible views.
Luckily, the helicopters also operate this time of year during the low season.
Except when I was there. 😦
While I had my pick of accommodations at more affordable prices, the cold/stormy/windy weather did not make for safe helicopter travel. Here’s what I would’ve seen if the tours were operating during my visit. Pretty cool, huh?
At least I had the chance to enjoy some of Franz Josef’s other offerings — beautiful hikes and lots of tasty options for food and coffee.
I walked the Terrace trail, which looked like it was ripped from the pages of an illustrated Tolkien book.
And I hiked the Cananvans Knob trail that started along a river bank …
and continued up a granite outcrop, culminating in beautiful views of the lowlands and mountains.
Technically, you can also get a glimpse of the glacier’s edge, wedged between the mountains. I boosted the contrast so it’s a bit easier to see.
During my walk back to town from Canavans Knob, I even made a new friend. Who’s this cutie?
I think what I enjoyed most about Franz Josef was the fact that, everywhere I looked, I could see mountains.
I could even see them from the window of my accommodation — a sweet (as) little cottage!
As I walked to the bus stop on the morning of my departure, the sun was coming out, the skies were clear and I could hear a helicopter flying in the distance. The glacier tour companies were back in business.
Oh well … at least that gives me a good excuse for a return visit!