"Josef Glacier" Franz Josef Glacier Tip by jontie

Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand: 23 reviews and 29 photos

by jontie

The spectacular Franz Josef Glacier descends to just 250 metres above sea level amidst the greenery and lushness of a temperate rainforest.
Of all the accessible temperate glaciers in New Zealand, the Franz Josef Glacier is easily the steepest and fastest moving.
While many glaciers world-wide have been retreating, the Franz Josef Glacier still flows almost to sea level, through a temperate rainforest of ancient podocarp trees and other evergreen species.
This combination of ice and temperate rainforest is a unique feature of New Zealand's glacier country, and is an ecosystem found nowhere else in the world.
South Westland is situated at 43.5 degrees south, an equivalent latitude to the south of France. Cannes, for example, is the same distance from the coast as Franz Josef, with mountains of similar altitudes.
Running through Franz Josef is the Alpine Fault. Along this faultline the Southern Alps have been pushed up, and continue to rise in close proximity to the ocean. The weather that flows on to the West Coast is forced to rise over the Southern Alps, thereby cooling and dropping most of its moisture as rain and snow. This process causes up to 30 metres of snow to fall on the neve (or catchment area of the glacier), every year.

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  • Written May 18, 2003
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