New Zealand's Franz Josef village on the South Island's West Coast is renowned worldwide and home to the famous Franz Josef Glacier. A treasured spectacle not to be missed. Exploring the ice caves, streams, ice walls and crevasses on an ice giant ... Show More
Tourist Information About Franz Josef
New Zealand's Franz Josef village on the South Island's West Coast is renowned worldwide and home to the famous Franz Josef Glacier. A treasured spectacle not to be missed. Exploring the ice caves, streams, ice walls and crevasses on an ice giant is an incredible thing to do and the flight by helicopter onto the glacier provides stunning views of the glacier valley. Easily accessible from the main road, the magnificent Franz Josef Glacier is decreasing in size by 6 meters a year. These rivers of ice are among the most unique Glaciers in the world. The Franz Josef village and nearby Fox Glacier township offers a base for exploring these stunning areas and have essential services and many other activities as well as glacier climbing and viewing. Meet and discover New Zealand's rarest kiwi, the Rowi, at the West Coast Wildlife Centre. Relax and enjoy the Glacier Hot Pools. Take an unforgettable flight up onto the glacier itself! Visiting Lake Matheson is one of the highlights of the area with stunning mirror views of Aoraki/Mt Cook and Mt Tasman. There is just so much to see and do in this beautiful place in the world.
Best Attractions and free things to do in Franz Josef
1. Franz Josef Glacier
The Franz Josef Glacier, a major tourist attraction in this area, is one of only three spots on the planet where a glacier drops into temperate rainforest. Another is Fox Glacier, the only other example being in Argentina. Westland Tai Poutini National Park contains the glaciers.
The glacier is easily accessible due to its elevation of 250 meters above sea level. The easy 45-minute Glacier Valley Trail up to the observation platform in front of Franz Josef Glacier's face draws visitors to the tiny settlement of Franz Josef (population 330).
2. Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier, like Franz Josef Glacier to the north, is one of the few sites on the planet where you can see a glacier without having to be a mountaineer. The glacier's terminal face, which is surrounded by temperate rainforest and drops to 300 metres above sea level, is bordered by temperate rainforest. Visitors can travel the one-hour Fox Glacier Valley Trail for views of the glacier terminal and, like at Franz Josef, take a guided climb onto the ice itself. Hike the harder Chalet Lookout Track for a panoramic view of the glacier from above.
3. Lake Matheson
The reflection of high peaks on Lake Matheson's surface has made it a photographer's dream. Because of the lake's natural brown water hue, you can get an astoundingly vivid reflection of the snow-capped mountains of Aoraki (Mount Cook) and Mount Tasman in the lake's surface on a still day when the lake's surface is calm.
From State Highway 6, near the Fox Glacier town, it's only a short walk over a suspension bridge through stands of native rimu and kahikatea trees to the lake.
4. Gillespies Beach
Gillespies Beach has a number of hikes with views of the Southern Alps in the background and the Tasman Sea in front, as well as mine tunnels and a tramping road to the next beach with a seal colony. To keep things simple, ending your day at Gillespies Beach and watching the sun set is a must-do while visiting Fox Glacier!
5. Fox Glacier South Side Walkway
Whatever you're planning; a glacier heli-hike, scenic flight, skydive, or anything else, the Fox Glacier South Side Walkway is a must-see. You'll be crossing old glacial moraine surfaces, with the ever-changing forest mirroring the moraines' rate of colonization. Two vistas of Fox Glacier are included in the 2-hour return hike. Learn more about the region on a guided trek with Glacier Valley Eco Tour as an alternative to undertaking the hike yourself.
6. Off Road Adventure Tour
Experience the thrill of riding the unique 2-seater quad bikes or 3-seater buggies over a range of terrain, including Jurassic-like rainforest, ancient glacial riverbeds, and grassland, as the name implies! We can either enjoy the sun and enjoy amazing views of the surrounding mountains and the famed Franz Josef Glacier, or you can get down and dirty in the mud and water, as we like to say.
7. Glowworms on the Terrace Walk
Glow Worms may be seen on the Terrace Walk after dark! Wander down this well-formed level track accessible from Franz Josef town with a torch. Look beneath and around the fallen tree branches besides the pathway to observe the glowworms' imitating the stars - and, for the greatest views of the glowworms, switch off your torch at this point! Otherwise, this is still a wonderful daylight stroll through the thick woods. The trek takes just 30 minutes from start to finish.
8. Roberts Point Track
Are you up for a hiking adventure? The Roberts Point Track is a pleasant climb that leads to great views of the Franz Josef Glacier if you are up to it! Hende's Hut, a nice site for a food break, is located on the open ice-smoothed outcrops after a 5h20min return climb through the Franz Josef Glacier Valley. Continue on through exposed scrubland to a long suspension bridge that spans Rope Creek and up to Roberts Point's last observation platform.
9. Mining Tunnels and Relics on the Tatare Tunnels and Callery Gorge Walks
The mining history of the Franz Josef area is another fascinating part of the region. Both the Tatare Tunnels Walk and the Callery Gorge Walk feature relics of the area's gold-mining past that are now being recovered by nature. On the 1h20min return Tatare Tunnels Walk, bring a torch and a rain jacket to see water tunnels created by miners in the early twentieth century. About five minutes into the Tatare Tunnels Walk, the Callery Gorge Walk branches off, providing access to the 1h20min adventure that ascends a terrace below Franz Josef town before following an old water race and abandoned mining remnants.
10. Glacier Hot Pools
The Glacier Hot Pools are another relaxing and enjoyable activity in Franz Josef. Access to the three major pools costs roughly NZ$30. Indulge in the relaxing waters, which are between 36 and 40 degrees Celsius. Set in gorgeous rainforest and manicured with stones for a more natural setting, the atmosphere adds to the pampering. Treat yourself to a relaxing evening and admire the fresh glacier air in the steamy hot pools.