FRANZ JOSEF, NEW ZEALAND
Franz Josef Glacier was first explored in 1865 by geologist Julius von Haast, who named it after the Austrian emperor. The glacier is five kilometres from the town of the same name, and a 20 minute walk will take you to its terminal face. From the glacier car park, you can hike to a choice of lookout points for a bigger view of this awesome river of ice. If you want to actually make contact with the glacier, take a guided ice walk or a heli-hike. Aerial sightseeing is another option. In the town you’ll find plenty of places to stay and eat.
In New Zealand, the 'West Coast' generally refers to the narrow strip of land between the South Island's Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea. It is the longest region in New Zealand. With a population of only 31,000 people, the West Coast retains the feeling of a pioneer frontier. It's a wild place known for rivers and rainforests; glaciers and geological treasures. Legends and stories from the past cling to every feature of the landscape. Maori were first to discover the West Coast, seeking sacred pounamu (nephrite jade or greenstone). Gold fever in the 1860s brought Europeans, many of whom stayed on to start farming, forestry and businesses. The locals are known as 'coasters', a term synonymous with friendliness and hospitality. Isolated from the rest of New Zealand by the Southern Alps, coasters have developed a distinctive culture of their own. Their pioneering values of self-reliance and loyalty are as strong today as they were 100 years ago.