Punga Grove Motel & Suites

40 Cron Street, Franz Josef, 2000, New Zealand
Punga Grove Motel & Suites
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More about Franz Josef Glacier

Photos

our pilot's dogour pilot's dog

End of walkEnd of walk

The GlacierThe Glacier

Ice block among the grey rocksIce block among the grey rocks

Forum Posts

Best time for photographs

by JohanIsWeg

We're considering a heli-hike on the Franz Josef Glacier or a day walk on Fox Glacier. What time of day, in general, would provide the best views? Does the weather (and visibility) deteriorate later in the day, or do you generally find poor weather conditions early in the morning?
Sissi made a good point in an earlier forum about time of day not really being applicable for heli-hikes as it's so high up, while early morning would give better photo opportunities with fewer shadows etc.
Is this still the reigning opinion? Any other experiences, pearls of wisdom?
Thanks.

Re: Best time for photographs

by fossettes

Great question johan - we'll be at Franz Josef in January (doing the heli hike) and would like to here the answer.

Best time for photographs

by kiwi

Bookmark - I'd like to know myself :-)

Re: Best time for photographs

by swissfondue

I am certainly not an expert on this subject but can say from my own experience that weather conditions can be deceptive.

My family and I arrived mid afternoon in the township of Fox Glacier and made enquiries about a helicopter flight up to the glacier expecting to be told it was too late in the day as low cloud cover was rolling in quite quickly.

A quick radio call to the pilot already up on the glacier confirmed it would be OK, but as the weather closed in we weren't expecting to see much and almost decided not to go thinking it would be a lot of money to waste (There were four of us) however we went on their advice.

The flight and landing on the glacier turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. The sky was a vivid blue and the colours of the glacier were hard to describe. There was not a breath of wind, it was not even cold, shadows were not a problem and our photos turned out to be absolutely stunning. This was at 3.30pm in the afternoon.

I would be guided by the advice of the heli-hike company. After all tourism is their job.

Re: Best time for photographs

by aussirose

Ask 2Cities1Love (Col & Sue). I know they went there.

Best time for photographs

by kiwi

Oh amazing. What month were you there, as this is important for the height of the sun in the sky. IT changes so much from summer to winter. thanks. But good advice to listen to the operators, they know best. Just that as a traveller trying to plan in advance when to be there, this will help.

Re: Best time for photographs

by swissfondue

Sorry. After I posted I realised I should have said what time of year this was!

MID APRIL. We had great weather overall on our 2 week trip aside from some rain at Milford (but thats not unexpected). Other posters have said previously that March/April is a pretty good time to visit with settled weather.

As I said our photos were absolutely amazing and that was using a cheapish camera. Do try to get up there if you can. You wont be disappointed. In fact the whole South Island (my favorite) is just one big panorama after another.

I would love the chance to see NZ again myself. Sigh... Have a great trip and take an extra large memory card.

Re: Best time for photographs

by Kakapo2

Johan, you will be lucky if it does not rain in January - as summer is the season with a lot of rain on the West Coast. That is why I call it Wet Coast ;-) This region has a yearly average of 5 metres of rain, and winter is the driest season.

High on the glacier you will have good views, of course, but if you consider that the sun sets in the west, and you want to take photos down the glacier to the valley you will photograph against the sun the later in the day it is. So to get a perfect picture of the length of the glacier you should do it earlier in the day. Of course, IF the sun shines you will get many good pictures, as there are other motives to photograph, and if you are in an ice cave it does not matter too much.

You must imagine the glaciers rolling down steep valleys, as they are rivers of ice. The lower you get, the bigger the shadows can get.

For those who do not live in the southern hemisphere, consider that the sun reaches its peak in the north and not in the south - if you want to calculate where the shadows fall to... ;-)

Re: Best time for photographs

by JohanIsWeg

No Sissi, don't even think it! It will be a gorgeous sunny day with not a cloud in the sky. I've put in a special order...

Best time for photographs

by kiwi

Haha good luck! But it may happen :-))) [if you hang around long enough hahahahaa].

Re: Best time for photographs

by JohanIsWeg

Oh ye of little faith!

Re: Best time for photographs

by fossettes

I'm with you Johan... fingers crossed for clear weather. swissfondue has given me hope! I hope we're able to do the helicopter - it's going to be our daughter's christmas gift - her dream is to fly in a helicopter. I'll have to com eup with a replacement gift if we can't go!!!

Re: Best time for photographs

by Kakapo2

Tell me on which day you will be on the West Coast and I will be there. As some people already know (because, of course, I have told it several times...), I attract the sunshine to the Coast - even in summer ;-)

I will be there again next week and will let you know if my record can be extended or if I run out of weather luck :-)

Re: Best time for photographs

by JohanIsWeg

Kelly Anne, I found the following sentence in a visitor's blog: "Helicopter tours were cancelled, however, until better weather. It had been weeks since a helicopter got off the ground."

What the...!

We better be VERY positive!

Best time for photographs

by kiwi

Welcome to New Zealand hahaha. It can be the trip of a lifetime or the trip from hell if it rains nonstop 90% of the time you are here. Lets hope you get nice weather :-)

Re: Best time for photographs

by fossettes

I am completely hopeful!

Re: Best time for photographs

by Kakapo2

Yes, it can really happen with the helicopters. And I have seen a lot of activity about rebooking people from helihikes and flights to walks. (Have spent a lot of time there, as hubby did all the computer networking for the company for several years...)

However, rarely a glacier walk ever gets cancelled, only during electric storms or such serious weather. They say that people also enjoy the walks in the rain. You still experience the turquoise coloured core of the old ice, as you mostly walk inside the glacier, like through narrow gorges, not on top of the glacier. Well, not really to my taste... I prefer to walk in the rainforest when it rains. But I am sure a glacier walk can be a great experience even in case of rain if you have never been in/on such a glacier before.

Re: Best time for photographs

by kzapanta

As many have said, luck with the weather is the more important factor, not time of day. BUT, we were there when the helis were grounded and still hiked up in fog and rain and it still was amazing. (fox glacier, left mountain side. NOT the riverbed hike)

But if weather permits the helis to fly, and your looking for great pictures. Remember the light rules of photography; sun sets on the west (you'll be on the west side), yes shadows are good and a tool for pictures in snow or glaciers, afternoon will have the best chances fogs will have burned off and most light for your pics. I doubt the heli company will allow their tours up on the top right at dusk so that red sky sunset on a glacier will be hard to get. =)

Re: Best time for photographs

by ronlaughlin

As a professional travel writer/photographer in New Zealand and living/working on the road in my bus 24/7-365 days a year I have accumulated over 10,000 photos in the past five years....Needless to say not all are worth looking at but I do have some really good ones........

I found that in the glacier country the early mornings have proven to be the best before the clouds start moving in. Be sure to go to Lake Matheson just after daylight.........
but, of course, since this is a rain forest you must expect rain.......at times!

Re: Best time for photographs

by oldruss

Hey Johan.
I would like to set straight, a few facts for you regarding the weather on the West Coast of New Zealand. I live in Greymouth and have done for the last 30 odd years.
We basically have a wet season in our spring. That can last between August and November, generally. Our dry season is summer and early winter. That can last between January to June.
Understand that, we will get rain on occasion during that time, but it tends to clear up after a day or so. It does not get cold till around May.
A small point of interest. The southern part of the West Coast, can get anything up to 4 to 6 metres of rain a year. That is because, when it rains, it doesn't muck around. They can easily get between 50mm and 100mm in a 24hr period. But again,that is usually in the winter /spring time.
You have been given some great advise by other New Zealanders, however, when it comes to "Weather", listen to a local.
Hope this helps.
Old Russ.

Re: Best time for photographs

by JohanIsWeg

Ron and Russell, thank you very much for your replies. Can't wait...

Re: Best time for photographs

by fossettes

Johan - We've just left Franz Josef today and were unable to do the helihike. The past two days they were socked in with clouds and rain. Then today, the clouds began to lift and we probably would have een able to go but my daughter had a fever and was not up to it at all. Very dissapointing for all of us, especially her.

We did do the walk to the face of the glacier, we did it on our own. It was great fun. If you do this, be sure you wear waterprrof sandals/boots - you will be walking through a few cold streams. Alot of people were just taking their shoes off and putting them back on, but it's much easier to just leave them on... well worth it, the walk is a great one.

Hope you have better luck with the weather than we have.

Kelly Anne

Best time for photographs

by kiwi

Great to hear the progress report.
Sad to hear also as I type that there has been an ice fall at Fox (I think) and they are searching for some people.

Re: Best time for photographs

by Kakapo2

The ice fall at Fox is a good reminder to tell people that they should not walk past the warning signs. This seems to have been the case. Ice falls at the terminal face of the glaciers are absolutely normal. One cubic metre of ice weighs about a tonne, so you can imagine what happens if you get too close to the glacier in the moment of the collapse. Info about the latest case is still sketchy but it seems as if several people were trapped under the ice.

Re: Best time for photographs

by kiwi

If that is the case it sure has been a summer of "broken rules"!! Many deaths and injuries this year.

Re: Best time for photographs

by JohanIsWeg

Hi Kelly Anne,

What a pity you guys didn't get to do the heli-hike, but thanks for the update. We're planning to do the hike to the terminal face, so thanks for the tips.
Hope the weather improves for you!
Enjoy the rest of your trip.

Best time for photographs

by kiwi

Just don't get to close to the glacier face. they are just pulling two bodies out from under the fallen ice . sorry.

Re: Best time for photographs

by JohanIsWeg

Thanks, we'll keep a safe distance. Sad news...

Best time for photographs

by kiwi

You'll have such a good experience there, it's a super place :-)

Re: Best time for photographs

by JohanIsWeg

My wife was looking at You Tube videos of guided walks on the glacier last night, and it scared the whatsisname out of her! She's very excited though :-)

Best time for photographs

by kiwi

OH good, she's doing research, that's good.
She will love it. Hope you get reasonable weather :-)

Re: Best time for photographs

by Kakapo2

With guides it is safe to walk on the glacier, they check the tracks every morning long before the visitors arrive. That is why the tracks change permanently. You can walk to the terminal face on your own without problem, just do not climb over the barrier ropes. They are there for a reason. (Although I must say that sometimes at Franz Josef they put up ropes in places where it is absolutely safe, just to discourage people to walk without guides. There you have to use common sense: Do not cross rivers if they seem raging, they are ice-cold as they start under the glacier; keep a distance to the terminal face of 50 to 100 metres.) It is suicidal to get really close to touch the ice or even onto the terminal face, as those two dead tourists at Fox have obviously done.

Re: Best time for photographs

by fossettes

Very sad news indeed about the events at Fox. We stopped at the last warning spot, which instructs not to go beyond if not experienced or with a guide. But of course we saw crazy tourists, hopping past the signs, totally unprepared and inexperienced.

J - if you take a guided walk, they fit you with nice warm waterproof boots (as well as jackets and pants) so no need to worry about your own shoes.

Re: Best time for photographs

by Kakapo2

Reg. Fox accident: They say a third of all tourists climb over the rope barriers and ignore signs.

Reg. Shoes: On guided walks you even have to wear the boots they provide.

Re: Best time for photographs

by JohanIsWeg

Kelly Anne, we missed out on the helikhike as well )-: Too cloudy... However, we did get onto the ice as we were booked for a full day tramp on Fox Glacier the following day. What an experience! My wife was scared stiff; though that could also have been from the plummeting temperatures! It rained almost the entire day, which made it quite slippery. Awesome adventure!
And the previous day, as we were walking towards the Fox to view it from a distance, we witnessed ice blocks breaking from the terminal face and plunging to the earth with a heart-stopping rumble. Reminded us of how dangerous it can be...

Best time for photographs

by kiwi

Oh wow. thanks for getting back to us. Sounds like you are having a good time :-)

Re: Best time for photographs

by fossettes

Johan -- glad it worked out even if not from the air. My parents are in NZ now and Dad just rang to say that this is the first day of sun they've had since arriving 9 days ago. It's been a wet summer over there. Thanks for the update!

Best time for photographs

by kiwi

REally? must be just that week. We are having one of the longest and hottest summers for years. ANd where I live it certainly hasn't been wet until yesterday.

Re: Best time for photographs

by JohanIsWeg

We were extremely forunate: had only 1 day of rain out of 18! A few partly-cloudy days and 1 day really windy. Otherwise, glorious sunshine!

Re: Best time for photographs

by Kakapo2

The secret is that NZ has not just one weather but many kinds of weather at the same time. I have just been travelling in the deep south for 10 days, and we only had some hours of evening rain in Queenstown and some cloudy hours at Doubtful Sound. No cloud in the sky at Milford Sound, glorious weather all over the place. On one day Milford Sound was the only day in NZ with sunshine. Crazy - like nearly always ;-)

Wet and hot weather always depends on where you are. Here in Canterbury we also have a hot and dry summer, as in the region where Pam lives.

Best time for photographs

by kiwi

This is why I try to advise people to bring weather for all seasons, even in summer, and they think I am crazy :-)

Re: Best time for photographs

by Kakapo2

Yes, Pam, it really is funny that some people advise that you only need summer gear in NZ if they were lucky with the weather. I saw many people in Te Anau buying Icebreaker underwear and woollen hats. So the belief that we always have endless hot and dry summers at least stimulates the economy ;-)

Best time for photographs

by kiwi

Oh good idea, I may change my tactics hahahaha.

Travel Tips for Franz Josef Glacier

$$$

by imstress

An ATM machine is available in Franz Josef just outside the Mt Cook Ski Plane Building. Eftpos and credit cards are accepted for most services.

There is no ATM facility in Fox Glacier so do withdraw enough cash before you head for Fox Glacier.

Money Changer could be found at the Fern Grove Souvenirs at main road.

For forex exhchange in Fox Glacier head for the Alpine Guides on the main road.

Alpine Guides

by imstress

http://www.helicopter.co.nz/

"Alpine Guides offer guided walks and helihikes from half day to the 2 day Chancellor Hut Overnight Heli-Trek.

The guides are trained through the internationally recognised NZ Mountain Guides Association assure you of a safe hikes.

Let the friendly and professional guides lead you onto an incredible world of ice. The hikes are tailored to suit all fitness levels, budgets and timeframes."

Pls refer to the website for more information or to the brochuer that I have scanned.

climb either Franz Josef or...

by Lozza_9

climb either Fox Glacier. We booked our walk before we left for New Zealand. Everyone who goes to NZ wants to walk the Glaciers. It can become very busy and you may not be able to get a walk. It does get cold on the Glacier - I would recommend a 12.30 walk if you are doing a half day walk. On the walks you have 3 guides, one is for people who wish to go fast, one for the medium people and one for people who want to take there time and take pictures. I took the third.

Take a hike

by Mez77

Get up close to the glaciers with a guided glacier walk. A variety of options are available, including helihikes, from a few hours to the whole day. I decide on a half day guided hike because I wasn't sure how strenuous it would be. I think it was just the right length. We were able to get high enough to get into some ice caves. Friends of ours went on a full day hike and didn't really see much more.

The other option is to do a heli-hike which combines the excitement of exploring a wild and remote part of the glacier with the thrill of two helicopter flights. This way you can get further up the glacier, but the cost is much more.

Blue Ice

by Atre

At the very top of the glacier you can see formations of blue ice, and if you have the money, you can take guided tours to the top and explore the ice caves up there. Even from below it is an amazing view.

Comments

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 Punga Grove Motel & Suites

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Punga Grove Motel And Suites
Punga Grove Hotel Franz Josef

Address: 40 Cron Street, Franz Josef, 2000, New Zealand