The Wild West Coast of New Zealand's South Island is dotted with awe-inspiring landscapes but none are more spectacular than Franz Josef Glacier. The Glacier makes its way through the stunning mountain range toward the ocean and is framed by native rainforest to boot!!
The town of Franz Josef is a great spot to spend at least a couple of days with lots of activities and a great vibe for such a little town. Its got great wee pubs and lots of options for food as well. This is a compulsory stop for all the hop-on hop-off tour buses - like stray bus - and should be for you as well. One highlight is the Alpine Cinema - if it's cold and wet (which is can often be here) then the Alpine cinema is a cozy place to spend a few hours tucked up with some mates, some popcorn and a hot chocolate.
Explore the Ice
One of the most popular ways to explore the glacier is to take a short helicopter ride from town up to the glacier where you'll don your crampons and get your glacier walk on. This is a fantastic introduction to an enthralling world of ice. The short heli hop from the township takes you into a remarkable area of the glacier. Here your knowledgable guide will tell you all about the glacier while navigate you through a maze of ice, learning about how the glacier was formed and the dramatic environmental changes over the last few years.
If you'd like to see both the Franz Josef Glacier and nearby Fox Glacier, as well seeing Mount Cook the highest mountain in New Zealand, then you can take senic and helicopter flights from Franz Josef town. Some helicopter packages include a touch down on the snow, others include just the flight get in touch with us about what you would like to do there are various packages available for different budgets. For those bidding photographers amount you the Franz Josef Glacier Guides also offer a monthly refund for a free trip to the best photo from the ice!!
Climbing all over the Glacier is hard work and it gets cold here so what better way to relax than in the hot pools? There are pools set in the lush native bush and if you've booked tour with Been and Seen Travel to explore the glacier with Franz Josef Glacier Guides you get access to the hot pools for free!
There are some splendid bush walks in this area and the track to the terminal face (where you can see the glacier) is about 45mins return, you won't be able to get onto the ice but you get a great view. The bush walk is a good option to see the glacier for free if you are on a tight budget and might be the only option if the weather is not clear. You can catch a shuttle from town to the start of the track and begin from there.
Meet a Kiwi
The West Coast Wildlife Centre is based in Franz Josef township. You can walk through a natural-looking dark bush area and see if you can spot the Rowi Kiwi, one of the most endangered types of kiwi. You can learn about the kiwi conservation programme and a bit more about the glacier too.