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Franz Josef or Fox ?

Belluno, Italy
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159 posts
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Franz Josef or Fox ?

Hi! I've been reading about these 2 glaciers, yet I haven't been able to make up my mind: in which one of the two should we stay two nights? I've come across plenty of great reviews for both of them.

Our itinerary:

18/12/14 Wanaka

19/12/14 Glacier

20/12/14 Glacier

21/12/14 Punakaiki

I have already booked (free cancellation) 2 motels near the glaciers: Alpine Glacier Motel (FJ) and The Westhaven Motel (Fox). Either their fares or their rating are almost equivalent, so accommodation seems not to be a discriminating factor. My gf and I are not mountain climbers, nevertheless we'd enjoy having a not very demanding excursion. Which are your suggestions?

Greymouth, New...
Destination Expert
for South Island
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3,843 posts
130 reviews
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1. Re: Franz Josef or Fox ?

If you are wanting to visit lake matheson, best veiwing time is dawn, then stick with fox, or maybe one night fox and the next at Franz. Fox Glacier has walking access to the glacier where as Franz does not. franz is a bigger town and have a few more activities available such as quads, and hot hools

Melbourne
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51 posts
17 reviews
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2. Re: Franz Josef or Fox ?

Hi, there,

We just back from Franz Josef two days ago. FJ is much bigger than FG, with a well established information center and more accommodations, shops/ cafe, etc. Slighter longer walk to view the glacier in FJ.

The two places are very close anyway, I would suggest you just book two nights at the same places (FJ is my pick) and just drive around.

Not sure if how the weather will be, but the road from Wanaka to FJ was closed on our trip after 5.30pm due to the recent typhoon damage)- just keep in mind check the local condition, as you will stop all the time to take photos etc..I bet.

Cheers,

Yanathome

Melbourne, Australia
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75 posts
15 reviews
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3. Re: Franz Josef or Fox ?

We stayed at Franz Josef (scenic hotel) and it was a cute town.. Although Fox looked lovely too. Franz is closely surrounded by mountains, whereas Fox is more open, lots of beautiful fields. They had similar shops. We walked to both Franz and Fox glacier terminal faces today. Fox allows you to get closer and higher, but is a steep walk. Franz Josef is a long flat walk with a good view. Lake Matheson was beautiful, we went at 9am this morning and if we'd gone much earlier the mist would have blocked the view. It was only just clearing - so depending on time of year take into account :)

Belluno, Italy
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159 posts
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4. Re: Franz Josef or Fox ?

Hi guys, thanks a lot! Actually it's the first time I've read about Lake Matheson. I've just checked my Lonely Planet Guide and I've found only a couple lines about it ("it's an hightlight" :) . On the 19th December I am getting to the glaciers from Wanaka. I've read the route is very scenic and needs several stops to see the beautiful views. I could plan to book the first night at Fox and the second night at FJ with an excursion in the afternoon. The visit to Lake Matheson could be planned in the afternoon of the day I get to Fox, or in the morning of the day after before leaving Fox to get to FJ.

I apologise for any mistakes in my English, I do my best :)

Edited: 26 April 2014, 12:10
New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
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28,297 posts
74 reviews
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5. Re: Franz Josef or Fox ?

No worries Polo, your English is very fluent :)

Allow about 5.5 hours to drive Wanaka to Fox if stopping for a couple of brief walks.

Lake Matheson is generally recommended early in the day for the reflected scenery - the wind generally picks up in the afternoon so ruffles the water.

Christchurch
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1,643 posts
12 reviews
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6. Re: Franz Josef or Fox ?

Whilst it is a lovely walk in its own right one of the main reasons for walking around Lake Matheson is for the view of Mounts Cook and Tasman which are reflected in the lake on still days. This is why it is recommended that you do the walk early in the morning before the wind gets up. If you are not concerned about taking great photos then any time of the day will do. Being able to view the mountains is desirable if course but your priority is getting to see the glaciers first if the weather is fine.

Sunshine Coast, Qld
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367 posts
55 reviews
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7. Re: Franz Josef or Fox ?

I would recommend a night at each. You can explore the fox glacier one day and then after dark explore the Forrest 50 metres from the Bella Vista Hotel. It is an easy walk along a stream and as soon as it gets dark, glow worms come out. We found it magical exploring for glow worms on our own. It is a bit if a distance to Franz Joseph so don't plan activities there too early the next morning. I would visit Lake Matheson on your way out. Punakaiki is also a beautiful place to explore. Enjoy the driving in between and don't try to rush it. There are so many beautiful pit stops and photo opportunities as you drive around.

8. Re: Franz Josef or Fox ?

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