Why You Should See the Franz Josef Glacier from a Kayak

The mighty Franz Josef glacier is a highlight of many people’s South Island adventures. We must say, one of the coolest ways (no pun intended) to see the glacier is from a kayak!

The team at Glacier Country Kayak take you on a tour of a beautiful glacial lake, showing you absolutely breathtaking views, and filling your head with fascinating local knowledge. Here’s why we think Franz Josef Glacier by kayak is the new NZ must do!

Mirror, mirror, on the lake

Lake Mapourika, situated in the Franz Josef Glacier valley, was created some 14,000 years ago as the glacier retreated after a significant ice age. The surrounding tall peaks leave the lake calm and mirror-like. Not only does the lake’s shelter make for easy paddling, it gives you unbeatable panoramic views of snow fields, glaciers and some of the tallest peaks in the country. Just check out these photos…

Weather

If you’ve heard anything about heli-hiking or the Franz Josef glacier, you’ve probably been told that the weather is highly temperamental. The west coast of the South Island is known as the wettest area in New Zealand (which is why the rainforest is so lush and beautiful). The drawback to this is that some days the glacier is shrouded in cloud, and there’s not much to see. But there is some good news! Because Lake Mapourika is so sheltered by the dramatic, towering mountains that border it, often the weather on the lake is much better than it is on the glacier. So on a rainy, foggy day, while you may not be able to see the glacier, you can still see some pretty impressive sights from your little yellow kayak.

Sustainable sightseeing

The team love New Zealand’s unique natural environment and have a passion for conservation and sustainability. Kayaking is a super low impact way to see the glacier and surrounding scenery, so you can be sure that you’re taking only photographs and leaving only paddle splashes. The lake you paddle on is surrounded by Jurassic age rainforest. It is part of the Westland Tai Poutini National Park, a World Heritage Area.

Along with other precious native wildlife, the rarest Kiwi in the world, the Rowi lives here.  Glacier Country Kayaks do their best to ensure your kayaking trip has the smallest impact on our environment as possible. As well as this, part of the price of your ticket goes toward the Department of Conservation, who are responsible for protecting New Zealand’s unique natural, historic and cultural heritage. Go you!

Guides who show and tell

That national park we told you about is also the oldest rainforest in the Westland area. It is home to a variety of native birds, from the infamous cheeky kea to the rare and beautiful crested grebe. The greatest part about having an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide is being able to understand what you’re looking at! Your guide will tell you stories of local Maori legend, inform you about geographic history, wildlife and conservation of the area. These guys are truly passionate, you’re bound to learn something new to share with your Stray mates on the bus.

If you choose the paddle and walk option, your tour includes a guided walk where you’ll learn more about the rainforest and the super rare Rowi kiwi. This track is made and maintained by Glacier Country Kayaks, so there will be no one else on it! This gives you a way better chance of seeing the wildlife, in the peaceful stillness of the lush rainforest.

A picture paints a thousand words

Your guide will also document your kayaking adventure – they’re experts at grabbing those sought after candid shots, and making the most of the mirror-like lake. The best part is, you can take all your pictures home for free! So you can share your new fun facts in your Instagram captions, alongside epic photos.

About GCK

Glacier Country Kayaks is run by an awesome crew from a range of backgrounds who have a wealth of knowledge and experience. They offer three kayaking experiences (check out the options here). Book in your Stray Mate app for an exclusive discount!

 

Emily

Emily is a native creative nerd. This creative crew member's favourite stop is Bay of Islands.

These New Zealand Tours will depart soon

Fantail South Island Tour

14 days - starts & ends in Picton (optional: Wellington or Christchurch)

Explore the best the South Island has to offer: highlights and lots of hidden gems.

Morepork All of NZ Tour

24 days - starts & ends in Auckland

Explore the North and South Island. Hike some of NZ's best tracks and kayak at sunrise and more, much more.

Weka South Island Tour

10 days - starts & ends in Christchurch.

This tour is all about the scenery. Each day delivers more breathtaking views, epic hikes & landscapes.

Or check out these articles for more travel inspiration

How to stay fit while travelling: our best tips to stay active while on the road in NZ

Travellers say it’s hard to stay in shape, but when you’re in New Zealand that seems like an excuse. Around every corner there’s something to do – something to challenge you. It doesn’t take a gruelling workout at the gym […]

Read More

Experience an amazing summer in New Zealand: party at the best festivals in the most amazing places

No New Zealand summer experience is truly complete without attending one of the many world-class music festivals held around the country. We’ve collated a list of some of the very best festivals New Zealand has to offer.

Read More

Life speeds up in winter in Queenstown: how to experience the winter adrenaline rush in this picturesque alpine town

Picture this: You’re sipping on a mulled wine surrounded by snow-capped mountains and starlit skies after a jam-packed day of activities including skiing and skydiving. The dream, right?! It’s no surprise that our travellers love to spend winter in Queenstown […]

Read More
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scroll to Top