Perhaps everyone knows how glaciers work…a lot of snow (and I mean a lot of it, up to 50m to gain a compressing weight of its own) compacting into the ice with gravity pulling this mass down the hill. It may however be a bit harder for everyone to imagine the scale of the area where all this compacting happens.
Franz Josef Glacier is one of the smaller glaciers by world standards but quite a sizeable chunk of ice in New Zealand landscape.
On this photograph I’ve been hoping to show the vastness of the upper parts of this currently about 10km long glacier. With 2 highest peaks of the New Zealand’s Southern Alps dominating the background – Mount Tasman on far top left 3,497m and highest mountain Aoraki/Mount Cook 3,724m next to it on right, the vastness of the Geikie and Davis Snowfields of the Franz Josef Glacier is quite apparent.
This wonderful scene has been photographed just as the sun was dipping over the horizon of the Tasman Sea on right and I love the beautiful light bouncing over about 30 square km large NEVE in wonderful hues of purple, pink and orange. Hope you enjoy this image, too. Thank you.
Throughout the year, we have several itineraries of our photo workshops and tours but we were thinking about adding one more special winter version to our selection.
This new itinerary is almost identical with our 15 day South Island tour but we added a new, super location to it – one night will be spent in the high altitude mountaineering hut in The Southern Alps of the South Island in New Zealand.
The hut sits atop of the Franz Josef or Fox Glaciers, (depending on weather conditions we chose the best option), and we will have our private, professional mountaineering guide to guide us in this spectacular environment.
This combination will enable us to fully concentrate on photography, capturing images from areas usually accessible only to the skilled mountaineers. The scenery is going to be utterly breathtaking with 360 views and vistas reaching far into the Tasman Sea on horizon. We’ll be photographing spectacular West Coast sunset over the Tasman Sea from around 2800m above sea level, right under the Main Alpine Divide, as well as the sun rising from behind the following morning.
This adventure is scheduled for the 4 August until 18 August 2016 and I can’t wait to taking you into some of the most spectacular location on our planet.
For the full itinerary, please visit our website – nzicescapes.com
Glaciers around the world are melting and disappearing from World Maps. We are not immune to it as this sad reality is hitting New Zealand as well, and it’s not a nice sight.
The Southern Alps are becoming more and more unstable for alpine activities with increased rock avalanches as the warmer temperatures are melting rock binding ice in lower altitudes then in past.
All this rock avalanche debris falls on the shrinking and narrowing glaciers in valleys below, covering their gasping for breath remnants under layers of rocks.
In case of Tasman Glacier, this is even more evident, as with it’s lengths of 27km now, it is New Zealand’s longest and mightiest glacier…but how long for when its retreat is today estimated to be close to 1 km each year.
In 2010 massive calving event occurred, littering Tasman Glacier terminal lake, non-existent 40 years ago, with tons of ice debris and icebergs.
It’s not every day when event like this happens so I went to check it out myself. When I arrived at the terminal lake near sunset time, the sky suddenly closed up, clouds rolled over my head and it started to snow. The light of the setting sun was penetrating this gentle snowfall, and all Tasman Valley got dressed up in this beautiful pinkish pastel colours…very eerie, moody scene with all the icebergs in the lake…how lucky I was to witness this alone…
Taken with Nikon D300 and Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens
Despite this place being right on my doorstep, I’m quite ashamed to admit that it’s been a long 10 years since I visited this location last time. But this long gap won’t happen again, I can promise you that!
This said, you can well imagine my excitement planing my trip back into the wilderness of this spectacular western part of the Southern Alps, part of the Westland National Park in New Zealand.
Copland Valley is simply amazing. Jugged skyline of The Sierra Range on southern side of the valley keeps your mind in awe pretty much all along the way toward the first, well known hut – Welcome Flat Hut, which is reached after around 8hrs. A lot of the time you’re hiking along beautiful Copland River as it runs through this valley. River originates in Copland Glacier and gathers its waters from magnificent peaks of the Southern Alps, especially from The Sierra Range. And it is its glacial origins which gives this river stunning turquoise-blue colour of water.
It was late on a summer day when I took this photograph of the Copland River. As the sun went lower and lower, the Copland Valley lost its light completely and the blue chill of river gave the air its coldness. Combination of these qualities, warm sunlight on the peaks, coldness of the river and with addition of the juicy green rainforest made this frame for me.
This panoramic photograph is a merge of six frames, processed using Lightroom 4 and stitched in Photoshop CS6.
A few month back I hiked up the Roys Peak 1578m to get some photographs of Lake Wanaka. It’s an easy hike mostly through the farmland but from the start to the very end it goes only uphill. With a heavy pack loaded with camping and photo gear it will give your legs a decent workout. But boy, she’s a worthwhile…
The 360 degree views from the tops are simply incredible. On clear evenings you can see for miles and miles with some iconic features of the Central Otago region. To the west for example, in this frame on left, you can see the famous “horn” of Mount Aspiring – Tititea 3033m which is the highest NZ’s mountain peak outside of Mt. Cook area.
Lake Wanaka itself is the 4′s largest NZ lake covering an area of just under 200km sq with depth of up to 300 m. Situated in u-shaped valley formed by glacier during the last ice age more then 10,000 years ago, the lake is fed by the Makarora and Matukituki rivers and is the source of the south island’s longest Clutha River.
At its longest axis, the lake is 42km long and up to 10km wide at its widest point.
This photograph has been made by stitching 13 vertical frames, processed using Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4.
This shot is from last winter on Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand.
It was a beautiful day, as it always is on the West Coast and which is why you wanna be on ice, right?
I was on one of my explorations of this glacier. Since the glacier’s changing literally every day, you can keep coming back all the time and always see some new magic.
On this day, it was these turquoise fringes of the crevasses which caught my attention, as they were shining from a distance at me.
I love these ice colours but it is not easy to get around locations like this, especially in winter when every crack, deep crevasse or whole is covered with snow. These adventures can truly be deadly if you don’t know what you’re doing. I’ve been tip toeing around these crevasses, poking the ground in front of me before I put my next step down. I wanted to get as close as I could to get a nice wide angle shot with a lot of detail.
Standing on the slippery edge of the crevasse I made this exposure with my 12-24 mm wide angle lens at 12mm and with +1.3 EV exposure compensation.
Only very little of touch up on this RAW file in Lightroom was required to finalize the frame.
I hope you’ll like it as I do.
I’ve been wondering for quite some time how Franz Josef Glacier looks under the moonlight. As you know, there is only 12 or 13 full moons in a year and not each of moon’s appearance is on a clear sky for maximum light. Also, I might not always be able to chase it…but eventually, I managed.
Couple of days back it looked like its going to be a good full moon and because I was around, I decided to give it a go and hurried up to climb the hill and spent a night under the stars…and what a night it was!
I’ve been just starting and experimenting with night photography so I was very excited to see what can be captured. I managed to get several exposures ranging from 30 to 40 min but I can see that there is much more potential. It was full moon and that’s why I went up – to get well illuminated glacier but next time I might go somewhere in the middle of the moon cycle. That should allow me to add some nice, stronger star trails into the frame, as well, as this time the sky was too bright.
Since this image is not online yet, the link from it will take you to our STOCK galleries where you can explore more on New Zealand’s landscapes!
Leaving Mt. Aspiring National Park in Harris Saddle, the track begins to drop down and zig zags on the Hollyford Face. From here some amazing vistas are to be seen with Lake Mackenzie in far distance at the bottom of the valley and, it may take around 3hrs to get to Lake Mackenzie Hut from an area of fragile alpine vegetation of Harris Saddle. After several zig zags, track enters beautiful, densely in moss cloaked Fiordland bush before reaching the hut. Remember, this is Fiordland, one of the wettest regions in the World and this amazingly green ancient forest is proof of it.
Result of the last glaciation, Lake Mackenzie, beautifully surrounded by this juicy green bush and grey rocks, is one of the gems in Fiordland. Its breath taking emerald colours, enhanced on my overcast day, are quite extraordinary and I could spend many days here just exploring and photographing. Can’t wait to be back one day again!
After spending a night at Brewster Hut, it’s not too long to get to the Brewster Glacier, just around couple of hours of hiking.
Brewster Glacier is a magical place to photograph…the glacier melt water gathers and forms stunningly coloured terminal lakes. Yes, these lakes are freezing cold but their emerald colour makes them look amazing, with its source, the Brewster Glacier and Mt. Brewster 2515m asl, right behind it.
Despite of relatively not too difficult hike to the glacier, the hike shouldn’t be taken lightly. Especially during the unpredictable wether period. There is no track as such and you need to find and follow orange poles on the beginning and then just know the terrain and find your way through the steep slopes and scree, as the poles are not all the way to the glacier. Since the route leads along steep slopes with some moderate exposure which may be fine in summer but during the winter or low clouds, this can be quite dangerous. Other thing to consider is that the route runs through an avalanche path in winter. This avalanche hazard applies long into the spring so if considering heading that way, be extra vigilant and experienced, and definitely check the weather before you take off.
When you eventually make it through though, you will never forget it!
When do we call a chunk of ice a glacier? Usually, the ice mass has to be at least 100m x 100m in size and needs to show some signs of a present or past movement.
Generally, glaciers are divided into two main groups – Ice Sheets and Valley Glaciers, each with several sub-types.
Ice Sheets or Continental Glaciers are the largest masses of ice on Earth spreading over 50,000 square kilometres with the depth of ice sometimes more than 4,200m. They are only found in Antarctica and Greenland. Ice Shelves are floating extensions (more…)
The most destructive and powerful hand of Mother Nature lies, arguably, in the cryosphere. We may not see it doing much immediate damage, but by observing the landscape we can see enormous changes in our environment caused by glaciers. One of the very typical and most visible footprints glaciers leave behind are our, often ice free, valleys. Entire mountainsides were remodeled by
New Zealand sits on the famous “Ring of Fire”, which is one of the reasons for its astounding natural diversity and why this country has some of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world – The Southern Alps, dominating the South Island along its West Coast and only a few km at places from the Tasman Sea. But it is also the reason why this magnificent country is very prone to the earthquakes.
The Earth’s crust is made of (more…)
If the current average temperature were just 4° C lower, we would be living in an ice age. During the last, 18, 000 years ago, Franz Josef Glacier stretched its tongue some 10km beyond the present coast line. In this period the sea level was around 100m lower than today, as an immense amount of water was locked up in the glaciers all around the world. On the West Coast there were (more…)
As with all the rest of the glaciated world, New Zealand is also losing ice mass at a rapid rate, with 61% lost since 1850 (Hoelzle et al. 2007), and 11% in the last 30 years (T. Chinn, pers. comm.).
Most of this loss is from the large glaciers calving into pro-glacial lakes, such as the Tasman Glacier. This lake formation is the result of glacier thinning in response to climatic warming in the 20th century. As well as these large dynamic changes in glacier volume, there are smaller annual changes in volume due to changes in the amount of snow accumulation and snow and ice melt. An idea of how much mass is lost or gained each year throughout the Southern Alps is given by measurements of the end-of-summer snowlines since 1977. These measurement indicate that there have been positive mass balances at times during this period balance (Chinn et al. 2008) and the very sensitive and responsive Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers have advanced as a result.
The advance of Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere Franz Josef Glacier since 1984 has been extraordinary given the global pattern of receeding glaciers during this period. Recent work (more…)
The ice flow of a glacier is divided into two types, internal deformation and basal sliding. Internal deformation is movement of parts of the glacier relative to itself. Throughout the descent of the glacier, the ice at the sides and bottom side of the glacier are subject to more friction from the valley floor and walls, and therefore forced to move at a slower rate than the ice in the centre of the glacier. As a result (more…)
The Franz Josef Glacier is one of the fastest moving glaciers on Earth. Unlike most of glacier in the world the Franz Josef Glacier travels down very steep slopes of the Southern Alps. In the upper and very steep parts of the glacier, where the ice in the huge neve is squeezed into a narrow valley, the ice can move up to 5m each day during period of advance. (more…)
New Zealand owes its stunning beauty to its location on Earth. This applies particularly well to the West Coast of the South Island. Due to the predominant weather patterns in this part of the globe, the South Island faces the weather sweeping in as a persistent westerly airstream from the Tasman Sea. Moisture laden clouds brought in by these westerly winds have a gigantic barrier in their way – The Southern Alps. The Alps force the clouds to climb into higher and colder altitudes so the clouds finally give up and release the moisture in form of rain, and around the Main Divide as snow. The annual precipitation on the West Coast reaches 16 meters in places, making the West Coast one of the wettest places on Earth.
One of the most striking forms of evidence of glacial erosion is the colour of rivers like the Waiho River in Franz Josef. The melt water of the river gains a characteristic greyish colour, sometimes known as glacier milk. This is the result of the suspension of very fine grains of rock <0.002mm in size. These particles are called glacial flour and are the result of a type of glacial erosion known as abrasion. The abrasion occurs where the glacier slides over bedrock and works much like sandpaper, as rock fragments meet at the boundary of rock and ice they grind and smooth the surface below. If a large rock is trapped, large grooves or glacial striations are engraved into valley walls and bedrock.
Another major type of erosion is known as plucking. When the ice slides over the downstream side of the bedrock, it can freeze loosened rocks from the bottom into itself and rips the rocks out from the valley floor and walls, changing its shape forever.
One of the attractions of the glacier is the beautiful blue colour of its ice. In the upper reaches of the glacier the ice can be up to 300m thick. The upper layer is snow. When this reaches about 16 – 20m deep the snow compresses under its own weight and all the air is squeezed from between the snow crystals, forming glacial ice. (more…)
The unique environment of Westland National Park is responsible for the formation of the local glaciers. These powerful remnants of an ice age manage to survive warming temperatures due to the very special weather conditions on the West Coast of the South Island. Up to 16 metres of precipitation falls on the tops of the Southern Alps every year, most of it falling as snow. This massive amount of snow (more…)