Let me say initially that my review is not an indictment of the glacier itself, but the circumstances surrounding one's ability to experience it. Franz Josef apparently suffers from melt to the point that you cannot visit the glacier without a guide. However, the guided tours were, during our stay, booked and/or extremely expensive (heli-hike for 2 adults and 3 children was approximately $1500 NZD). Because it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere, the prevailing winds continuously push clouds into the mountains and fiordlands which make it difficult to have clear views of the mountains unless you are able to fly over them or actually land on them. Thankfully, our motel, the Bella Vista Franz Josef, was situated in such a way so that we could see the glacier during the breaks in clouds.
If you plan to visit the area, book guided tours of Franz Josef well in advance. If you cannot secure the tours, don't worry, there is the opportunity to freedom walk to the base of the Fox Glacier which is adjacent to Franz Josef. Either way, it is worth taking the time to see a glacier and the way it moves over time leaving a lasting affect on the environment.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TravelPod member and not of TravelPod.com.