There are multiple signs, fences, and barriers to prevent tourists from walking too close to the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers without a proper glacier guide. People often disregard the signs, perhaps because:
- They see others who are closer to the glacier
- They are on holiday and think nothing can go wrong
- They believe glaciers are slow and they can outrun any advance
- They are not paying attention because the glacier is so magnificent
Glacier advance is not a significant hazard in this area, however, ice fall, rock fall, flooding, and large waves caused by ice falling into the river can be life-threatening. Testing done by the Department of Conservation in New Zealand shows that life-size cutouts of park rangers holding their hand up saying, “STOP”, and double-rope barriers are quite effective in keeping tourists out of hazardous areas.
See the DOC website on glacier hazards.