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Franz Josef is a tourist destination. Its prime reason for existence is to serve tourists visiting the Franz Josef Glacier. Located in Westland it lies at the foot of the western slopes of Mount Cook and is in the middle of the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

The 11 km long Franz Josef Glacier is one of New Zealand's most spectacular natural attractions, a remnant from the Ice Age which is one of South Westland's major drawcards for visitors. The Glacier area (which also includes Fox Glacier) attracts up to 550,000 tourists every year - most of them taking the opportunity to view the glacier close up by taking a walking tour or getting the big picture from the sky by helicopter.

The flow rate is about 10 times that of typical glaciers. From a long term perspective, the glacier has retreated since the last ice age, and it is believed that it reached the sea some 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. Currently the glacier ends about 17 km from the Tasman Sea and the West Coast of the South Island. Being a slow moving frozen river, the stunning glacial landscape changes daily, and all safety warnings should be taken seriously.

Franz Josef Glacier Guides offer a range of trips taking visitors up on the majestic Franz Josef Glacier. From Valley Walks, half and full day options to ice climbing and heli hiking, there is a trip to suit every ability. Air Safaris provide scenic flightseeing tours flying from Franz Josef. The Grand Traverse scenic flight from here offers an incredible view of the mighty Franz and Fox Glacier and rugged Westland National Park before traversing Mount Cook and the main divide to explore the vast Mount Cook National Park.


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