The Franz Josef Glacier is one of New Zealand's prime attractions, a massive flow of ice not far off a South Island main road. It's not the only glacier in the country but is the most accessible and popular though it should be approached with some caution. In December 2009 two young tourists were killed when the ice cliff they were photographing - from too close, there are rope barriers - collapsed on them.
There are a handful of excellent tracks and walks in the vicinity, ranging from short and easy (such as the 40 minutes along the river bed to the glacier face, as above) to a 4 hour climb up to Alex Knob.
Glacier areas tend to be dynamic due to the contrasting temperatures of the ice and local temperate climate, so conditions can change suddenly, such as unexpected rain and fast-rising water levels on the river bed. Be prepared with good hiking boots and wet/cold weather gear.
A guided tour of Franz Josef with visitors wearing crampons and accompanied by a professional guide, making the walk both safer and the more interesting.
...do some real hiking on a Southern Alps trek. Next, Queenstown Pictures.