The Roberts Point Track to Roberts Lookout offers the best views of Franz Josef Glacier out of all the nearby tracks. A moderate hike reveals a magnificent uninterrupted view of the Glacier from a wooden platform viewpoint.
After arriving on the West Coast, we were on the lookout for a hike that would offer the best views of Franz Josef Glacier. After speaking to the DOC at the visitor center we were told that the Alex Knob track was closed. Our next best option was the Roberts Point Track, which definitely didn’t feel like a second-rate hike.
Besides the incredible view from the point, the hike is very enjoyable and scenic, crossing several epic suspension bridges and waterfalls along the way.
- How to Get to the Roberts Point Track Trailhead
- Robert’s Point Track Map
- What to Expect on The Robert’s Point Track
- Hike Highlights on the Robert’s Point Trail
- View of Franz Josef Glacier From the Roberts Point Lookout
- More Photos from the Roberts Point Track
- More Things to do on New Zealand’s West Coast
I'm Olly, a full-time traveler for the past 5 years. I visit every destination I write about & handpick all recommendations.
How to Get to the Roberts Point Track Trailhead
You can access the Roberts Point Track from two locations. Each location starts with a seperate track that quickly joins up to the Roberts Point Track.
Whichever of the two start points you choose, you won't have much trouble finding the route. There are signposts along all the tracks indicating the way.
Franz Josef Glacier Car Park
Leave your car at the car park and begin at the Peter's Pool Walk. This joins up to the midpoint of "Douglas Walk" Before turning off at the "Douglas Bridge" walking bridge crossing the Waiho River.
Alex Knob/Lake Wombat Car Park
This is a small car park on the right side of Franz Josef Glacier Road, just 3.3 km after crossing the Waiho River Bridge. From here, start on the Douglas Walk and follow signs to Roberts Track, which starts at the Douglas Bridge.
Robert's Point Track Map
Robert's Point Track GPX Map
Below I've included the track that I took using my Garmin GPS watch. You can download the GPX file by clicking the download link below.
GPX File: Download
My Strava: Visit
What to Expect on The Robert's Point Track
- Hike Length: 11 km return from Alex Knob/Lake Wombat car park or 12.3 km return from Franz Josef Glacier car park
- Hike Duration: 4.5-5.5 hours
- Hike Elevation: 680 m total elevation gain
- Hike Difficulty: Moderate - difficult (DOC: advanced tramping track).
The Robert's Point track is an in-and-out double-back hike that is suitable to fit hikers in good conditions.
If you're leaving early in the morning or late in the afternoon, then I'd recommend starting at the glacier car park on the Peters Pool walk. Although it's a little bit longer, then checking out the reflective pools is well worth it in good weather conditions.
The start of Roberts Track is fairly flat, following the true right of the Waiho Valley. The track is well-maintained at the start. However, you'll quickly notice that this changes the further you progress along the track.
Still, following the track is fairly straightforward, due to the fact that it's a pretty popular hike. The Roberts Point Track also steepens, with sections almost vertical.
Hike Highlights on the Robert's Point Trail
1. Glacial Valley Views
The track winds up the valley through dense native beech forest with brief breaks for uninterrupted views of the Franz Josef glacial valley.
Don't Miss:Tasman Glacier Viewpoint Hike in Mount Cook NP
2. The Roberts Point Track Swing Bridge
Besides the glacial lookout, these swing bridges were certainly one of my favourite highlights. There are a total of three swing bridges on the track, each high above the valley below.
My personal favourite was the unique Rope Creek swing bridge, which is a long and thin bridge that's sure to get the vertigo going.
3. Gallery Steps
The Gallery Steps are platformed steps that have been bolted into the side of the cliff. This section is really unique, and it almost feels like you're on a via ferrata track.
4. Dozens of Waterfalls and Stream Crossings
Along the track, there are dozens of beautiful waterfalls and stream crossings. Each seem like the perfect place to rest and take some photos. However, if you did then you'd never finish in a day!
While these sections are scenic, they can understandably be very dangerous in rainy or icy conditions. In fact, there's a sign at the start of the track warning that people have died on the Roberts Point track.
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Enter the Grayl GeoPress Water Filter & Purifier Bottle! I take this bottle on every hike and use it as my go-to source for filtering water all over the world. I've even used it to drink tap water in India!
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5. Hendes Hut
If you've done a bit of hiking or tramping in New Zealand already, then the Hendes Hut won't be overly intriguing. However, it does make a great place to stop and have a rest before the Gallery Steps.
View of Franz Josef Glacier From the Roberts Point Lookout
The final pièce de résistance of this hike is of course, the Franz Josef Glacier view from the Roberts Point Lookout.
It's a rewarding feeling after the final steep climb to walk up the wooden platform steps. Turning around on the platform offers the first and only view of the glacier on the hike.
From this viewpoint, you'll also see the entire Franz Josef valley, as well as the tall waterfalls flowing down the ice-rock across the valley.
More Photos from the Roberts Point Track
More Things to do on New Zealand's West Coast
I hope that you enjoyed this guide to the Roberts Point track and Franz Josef Glacier lookout. If you're looking for more New Zealand travel and hiking inspiration, check out some of the links below.
As a starting point for more great hikes, make sure to check out this list of the 31 Best hikes in the South Island.