Although the focal points of the west cost of New Zealand might be considered to be the glaciers the coastline itself is dramatic and fascinating. For the glaciers, the first European description of one of them was made in the log of the ship Mary Louisa in 1859. The glacier was later named after Emperor Franz Josef by a German explorer in 1865.
The Franz Josef Glacier is currently 12 km long and terminates 19 km from the ocean. It exhibits a cyclic pattern of advance and retreat, driven by differences between the volume of meltwater at the foot of the glacier and volume of snowfall feeding the top.
What was once a hike to the face is now finishes aroind 700 meters away from the face because of safety issues. Its not really a hike, more a casual walk and the number of tourists is very high.