The Franz Josef Glacier is located in Westland National Park,
and is seven miles in length. The glacier was named in 1865 by
German explorer Julius von Haast - who also named the nearby Haast
River. He named the glacier after Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria.
Glaciers have phases of advancing, followed by phases of
retreating. The Franz Josef is currently in the advancing phase,
and has on occasion been known to advance up to 2'
3'' (70cm) per day. That is a tremendous rate for a glacier -
about ten times their normal speed.
There are other fascinating anomalies regarding the glacier. It
is less than 984 feet (300 metres) above sea level, which is much
lower than glaciers are normally found. The Franz Josef is also
amongst greenery, and in a much warmer climate than almost all of
the others. These facts, combined with its breathtaking beauty,
have ensured that the Franz Josef Glacier remains one of New
Zealand's most popular attractions.