At the heart of Franz Josef is the glacier, with ice crashing down from the mountains to the forest below it’s a truly magnificent sight. Franz Josef glacier is accessible to all visitors as it’s only a short drive or walk from the village of Franz Josef on the West Coast Road. With a wide variety of options to explore the glacier available, there will be an adventure to suit everyone, from scenic flights onto the pristine blue glacier ice to guided valley walks to the advancing glacier face. As amazing as the glacier is, Franz Josef has plenty more to offer visitors, including an abundance of forest and alpine walking tracks. To help you wind down from the day's adventures a soak in the glacier hot pools is well recommended.
Take a scenic flight over all three Franz Josef glacier icefalls. Landing high on the glacier take a two hour guided trip through some of the most beautiful terrain in the country. Your guide will choose the route as you go through a wonderland of blue ice and frozen pinnacles. You'll have endless views of the surrounding mountains and rainforest as well as plenty of opportunities to take photographs. Sure to be one of the most memorable experiences you have while you are in New Zealand. Should weather not be suitable to take this flight you are able to transfer your booking onto a similar tour on any of the Helicopter Line operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.
Fly over the Franz Josef glacier and see all three of its icefalls with the Helicopter Line and Franz Josef Glacier Guides. Landing high up on its face, take a two hour guided walk through towering pinnacles, and brilliant blue ice formations. See panoramic views of the glacier and surrounding mountains as you learn more about how this huge river of ice was formed. Relax and enjoy the moment as your guide leads you into spectacular terrain usually only seen by experienced mountaineers.
The premier flight! Experience two of New Zealand's finest national parks and encounter the gigantic expanse of both the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Take in the towering ice formations and top it off with a snow landing and the chance to set foot on snow and breath the clean alpine air. Along the way, get to see the Tasman Glacier and get close to Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest peak. Duration of helicopter flight is 40 minutes.
Okarito, New Zealand's largest unmodified coastal wetland covers 3240 hectares of open water and is known for its rare New Zealand birds such as the White Heron and Royal Spoonbill. On this tour, you'll explore the open water and river channels by kayak leading you deep into the heart of the rainforest. On a clear day, you'll enjoy awe-inspiring views of Mt Cook and the Southern Alps.
Your guide will then take you to several popular spots where you'll discover the flora, fauna and history of the lagoon.
You will be met at your accommodation by a representative from Glacier Shuttles and taken on a short tour to view the glacier. Your shuttle vehicle will transfer you up the Franz Josef valley to the road end. Here you will have the opportunity to walk to view the glacier from a viewing platform. Or enjoy one of the short walks available in this area. You will be returned to your accommodation by the Glacier Valley Shuttles.
Depart the "quad base" and head across stony braided riverbeds, see glacial-fed rivers and listen to our guides tell you about local history. Drive through dense rain forest and soak up the atmosphere as you pass by ferns, mosses, and mature podocarp trees in this lush watery world.
Ride out to 10,000 year old moraine left by ancient glacial pathways and enjoy enough space to roam. View snow-capped peaks and "Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere" otherwise known as the Franz Josef glacier as it plunges from around 2500 metres into the green canopy of the forest a mere 230 metres above sea level.
Enjoy a cup of tea or chocolate at the shelter and hear the old Maori legend of the glacier, its geology, and tales of pioneers and adventures from times past. Take on the mud if you dare!
The Quad bikes are incredibly easy to ride. With a short lesson, anyone aged 16 or over can easily and safely enjoy riding the ATV quad bikes. These fantastic bikes are a first in New Zealand and feature a specially designed passenger seat enabling whole families to enjoy this experience in safety and comfort. The passenger seat is suitable for both adults or kids.
The perfect opportunity to get up close to the glaciers and touch snow. You'll be captivated as you lift off and fly up and over the Franz Josef and experience the solitude of a landing in this natural alpine wonderland. Duration - 20 Minutes. Should weather not be suitable to take this flight you are able to transfer your booking onto a similar tour on any of the Helicopter Line's operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.
Explore the glacial icefalls of not one but two glaciers - Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier. Discover up close their neve and unusual ice formations - landing on the snowfields is a highlight and will make for superb photos, snowballs and memories. Duration is 30 minutes.
The flight of a lifetime, the "Grand Traverse" is a spectacular scenic flight seeing experience allowing you to explore the Mount Cook and Westland National Parks. This magnificent flight encompasses two World Heritage National Parks and 200 km of New Zealand's most memorable and spectacular scenery. The contrast of colours is beautiful with the turquoise glacial lake against the tussock covered sheep stations. Your journey will bring you over Aoraki Mt Cook National park where you view New Zealand's longest glacier, The Tasman. From there you cross the main divide into the Westland National Park encompassing the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers which spill down to the rainforests of the west coast. Their large and varied fleet especially selected for New Zealand air tour sightseeing ensures that every passenger has a window seat and all aircraft have wings-above to ensure optimum viewing below. Pilots provide a full and informative commentary with multi-language commentary brochures supplied.
Nestled between New Zealand's highest mountains, the Tasman Sea, stunning temperate rainforest, glowing glaciers, mirror lakes and braided river beds, Franz Josef Glacier has been described as one of the most beautiful places on earth and the perfect location for your New Zealand Skydive. Tandem skydiving is the fastest, easiest and safest way for an inexperienced skydiver to enjoy the thrill of jumping out of a plane, free falling through the sky at 200kph/120mph and floating safely to the ground under a parachute. The system includes a harness and parachute system for both the passenger and the instructor to share, so you can simply enjoy the thrill of the experience knowing your instructor has everything under control for your Tandem NZ Skydive.
Meet and discover New Zealand's rarest kiwi, the Rowi at the West Coast Wildlife Centre. This is a unique and interactive experience that brings together nature, conservation, and wildlife all under one roof. This all-weather attraction is fun for all ages to explore and takes place against the stunning backdrop of the Franz Josef Glacier.
The ultimate Stand Up Paddleboard adventure awaits! Enjoy a luxury boat ride across the lake into the remote Kiwi Sanctuary. Hop off the boat and onto your paddleboard to explore the secluded estuaries and enjoy the scenic vistas of the Southern Alps and Glaciers! SUP amongst native birds and giant kahikatea trees before your boat ride back across the lake.
Explore the remarkable Fox Glacier and the crystal clear waters of Lake Matheson during this enjoyable day tour. You’ll be collected from your accommodation and drive towards Fox Glacier. You’ll then walk a track which runs through the lush historic glaciated rainforest in Westland Tai Poutini National Park, with focal points of huge rata, rimu trees and moss.
Views of Fox Glacier, Fox neve, Mt Tasman, one of NZ's highest mountains. Enjoy a cup of tea with a view and the opportunity to chat with your knowledgeable local guide. Information on glaciation, geothermology (inc geothermal spring to dip your hand in) geology, flora and fauna. Please note this tour does not get close or to view the terminal face of the glacier due to safety reasons.
Then head to the iconic Lake Matheson in the evening - renowned for its majestic mirror-like reflections this time of day. Treasure hunt with your knowledgeable guide for fungi, native orchids and native birds. Stop for a cup of tea and a chat with the picturesque landscape of Lake Matheson. This lake is a non-commercial and protected lake, part of the UNESCO World Heritage area and therefore you won't be disturbed by kayakers or noisy jet boats.
Your climb starts with a scenic helicopter transfer up onto the glacier; a great chance to take in the full panoramic majesty of the glacier and surrounding mountains. Ice climbing at Franz Josef is a day packed with excitement and adventure. Under the expert tuition of some of New Zealand's most experienced ice climbers, you will learn the skills and techniques you need to carefully and comfortably climb the glacier. A great way to introduce you to the exhilarating sport of ice climbing under the watchful eye of the expert team. Your guide will tailor the day to challenge novices and experts alike. No experience necessary, ice climbing, is a challenging sport however and you'll need a good level of fitness, flexibility and agility to complete this trip.
Nestled in thick historic West Coast forest and a stone's throw from wild black sand beaches, this is one of the world's most unusual glaciers. Beautiful blue skies or magical misty rain - whatever the weather - you will feel like you are in Narnia or LOTR.
With easy walking at your pace, information on glaciology, geology, geomorphology, flora and fauna, local legends, history, and small guided groups with fantastic guides, you will experience this glacier in style and in the best hands with the only local company. Wander past glacier rivers and streams and through beautiful podocarp forest; discover hidden natural treasures such as native snails, wild native mushrooms, and dozens of species of native orchids; listen to native bird song and waterfalls; see if you can spot a Chamois or a Tahr on the huge snow-capped mountains above while drinking a cup of tea and talking one-on-one with your guide. This tour will be a highlight of your travels in New Zealand.
Nature has combine three ingredients to create the stunning vista that is Lake Matheson. Explore the crystal clear waters and learn about flora, fauna, glaciation, geology and natural history of this beautiful area.
You'll be collected from your accommodation in Franz Josef and driven to the stunning Lake Matheson, where you'll walk the 3km gentle track that follows the lake edge. Along the way take in the reflective qualities of the lake and the surrounding lush rainforest which make for fantastic photo opportunities.
Explore the Jurassic rainforest and kiwi sanctuary on a private rainforest trail. Exclusively accessed by kayak and boat you’ll experience the pure remote wilderness of Lake Mapourika. Hot drinks provided, with an unbeatable panorama of the glaciers across the lake.
Glide effortlessly across the water taking in the panoramic views of the Southern Alps, glaciers, and untouched Jurassic rainforest reflected on the glassy waters of Lake Mapourika. Paddle into the heart of the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary, exploring the protected area with your knowledgeable guide.
Experience the ultimate scenic helicopter flight and glacier landing in New Zealand’s world famous Glacier Region. Pilots choice includes two scenic flights and a snow landing. Depending on the day you will either fly over Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier or Franz Josef Glacier and the Tasman Glacier with Glacier Country Helicopters, a local family owned and operated helicopter company based in Franz Josef Glacier.
There are many walks and hikes in and around Franz Josef. The information below is provided by the Department of Conservation. Located in Franz Josef village is a Department of Conservation information centre and you can get updates on track conditions and suitability plus you can learn about the area, its natural history and its people. Listed below are a selection of short walks but check with the Department of Conservation information centre for weather conditions, track suitability and conditions first.
The Douglas Walk is an easy one-hour forest walk that passes by the Peters Pool viewpoint and crosses several moraines before descending to the bridge across Dolly Creek on the way back to the road.
Category: Walking track. Completion Time: 1 hr return
Franz Josef Glacier/Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere Walk
The 40-minute walk to the terminal face of the Franz Josef Glacier follows a rocky path over riverbed. Only experienced and prepared visitors should attempt climbing on the glacier.
Category: Walking track. Completion Time: 1 hr 30 min return
Lake Wombat Track
The Lake Wombat Track leads you through a lush rimu forest to the idyllic Lake Wombat.
Category: Walking track. Completion Time: 1 hr 30 min
Okarito walking tracks
North of the Franz Josef Township sits the coastal settlement of Okarito and the Okarito Lagoon. The lagoon is home to more than 76 species of native birds including the kōtuku/white heron and royal spoonbills.
Category: Walking track.
Peters Pool Walk
The spectacular view at Peters Pool includes Franz Josef Glacier/Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere, and the Fritz Range, including Mt Moltke and Mt Roon.
Category: Easy access walk. Completion Time: 25 min
Sentinel Rock Walk
Just a short distance south of the Franz Josef Township you will come to the Glacier and Sentinel Rock walks. The Sentinel Rock Lookout offers impressive views of the glacier, the valley and Waiho River.
Category: Short walk. Completion Time: 20 min
Tatare Tunnels Walk
The 80-minute return Tatare Tunnels Walk follows an old 4WD road to a junction with the Callery/Waiho Walk. From there follow the track to the old water tunnels.
Category: Walking track. Completion Time: 1 hr 20 min return
Follow the Terrace Walk as it winds through forest and goes by remnants of past gold mining operations.
Category: Short walk. Completion Time: 30 min