Franz Josef Glacier heli-tour

This morning I took a helicopter tour of the two glaciers in this area – Franz Josef and Fox Glacier. I had booked a 9:00 AM flight – a bit early because I really wanted to sleep in but I’m kinda glad I went early when visibility was really good. When I had inquired about the tours, I found that I could pick either more air time and 8 minutes on the mountain or for a bit more money, less air time and 3 hour guided tour on the mountain. I was going to do the latter but the Quebecois guy at the counter talked me into the former, saying that everyone loved the views from the air and wish they could have gone longer. In hindsight, I should have gone with my first decision. I mean the time in the air and the incredible views of the mountains were great but I really really loved being on the glacier itself and feeling the ice crunching under my boots. And the tours are so expensive that I couldn’t just go do the heli-hike later.


Flying above Fox Glacier

So anyway, for the princely sum of NZD 300 I got to do a 30 minute helicopter tour of the two glaciers. For that price I could have gone to Sydney and back so I hoped that it better be good. And it was pretty good fun although I hesitate to say that it was worth that much money.

We took off from a nearby field and went high up into the mountains. There were three of us passengers so we all got a window seat. We had headphones via which we could hear the pilot speaking to us via an intercom system (it’s too noisy to hear him without them). We flew right over the glaciers for some stunning views. Apparently this is one of the only two places in the world where glaciers run into a rainforest, the other being the Patagonias.

We landed on top of Franz Josef and hung out there for about eight minutes. It was very sunny and quite a bit warmer than I thought it would be. Towards the end my fingers started getting cold so I figure that you would need gloves and a few layers if you were going to go hiking up there.


On top of the glacier!