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The Franz Josef Glacier (New Zealand)
The Franz Josef glacier is located in Westland National Park on the West
Coast of New Zealand. Together with the Fox Glacier 20 km to the south, it
is unique in the fact that it descends from the Southern Alps to just 240
metres above sea level.
The area surrounding the two glaciers are designated a World Heritage
Site. The river emerging from the glacier terminal of Franz Josef is known
as the Waiho.
The glacier is currently 12 km long and terminates 19 km from the Tasman
Sea. It retreated several kilometers between the 1940s and 1980s; the
glacier entered an advancing phase in 1984 and at times has advanced at
rate of 70 cm a day.
The glacier area is one of the main tourist attractions of the West Coast.
Guided and unguided walks up to and onto the glacier are possible, but
specialist equipment is needed to climb the glacier.
Shelving in the valley floor deep beneath the glacier causes cracking,
upheaval and deep ravines in the glacier surface, creating a dramatic and
potentially dangerous frozen landscape .Surface melting occurs throughout
the lower altitudes, feeding rivers that flow out the ravines.