The township is a cool little place set in the rainforest which contains little more than a couple of cafes, some booking offices, a gas station, a supermarket, money machines and an internet cafe. According to Maori legend the glacier is actually the frozen tears of a maiden called Hinehukatere. They were made from her crying for the one she loved. She made her man (Tane) climb the mountains with her but unfortunately near the top he slipped and fell to his death. Hinehukatere was heart broken and with her crying at such a high altitude her tears turned to ice and formed the glacier we all see today. The name Franz Josef was given to the glacier by the geologist Julius von Haast to honour the emperor of his native Austria. The glacier itself is 12 kilometres long and is one of the fastest moving glaciers in the world with growth of as much as 1.5 metres a day. While Franz Josef glacier is almost unique in the world for its ease of access we recommend that because of the changeable and difficult conditions and the difficulty of getting beyond the glacier face (and how cool it is on the glacier – excuse the pun) you do one of the guided trips which are on offer (where you get shown the right way to go but more importantly get flash shoes with steel grips).