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Franz Josef

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Franz Josef is a tourist destination. Its prime reason for being is to serve tourists visiting the Franz Josef Glacier. Located in Westland it lies at the foot of the western slopes of Mount Cook and is in the middle of the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

  • It is about a thirty minute trip from Fox Glacier.
  • It is about a three hour trip from Greymouth.
  • Its about a four and a half hour trip from Wanaka.
  • Its about a six hour drive from Christchurch

By bus[edit]

Tour buses generally make Franz Josef one of their stops, either for the night or at least a lunch break. Alternatively, for a really cheap option, try nakedbus.com or Intercity Bus - bus services start at $1.

By air[edit]

Franz Josef Airport is really only suitable for light aircraft. Mind you, Mount Cook Airport is just on the other of the mountains, and a scenic flightseeing trip can often be arranged at short notice.

Get around[edit]

While you can take your car to the car park at the foot of the glacier, you will need to get out and walk to the terminal face, as the Glacier is receding at present. There are a number of walking tracks in the glacier valley. Please take heed of the warning signs as you get close to the glacier terminal face.

If you prefer to do things the easy way, try flightseeing, either in a plane or helicopter.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Franz Josef Glacier

The 12 km long Franz Josef Glacier is one of New Zealand's most spectacular natural attractions, a remnant from the Ice Age which is one of South Westland's major drawcards for visitors.

The Glacier area (which also includes Fox Glacier) attracts up to 250,000 tourists every year - most of them taking the opportunity to view the glacier close up by taking a walking tour or getting the big picture from the sky by helicopter.

Having retreated several kilometres between the 1940s and 1980s, the glacier entered an advancing phase in 1984 and at times has advanced at the rate of 70 cm a day. The flow rate is about 10 times that of typical glaciers. From a long term perspective, the glacier has retreated since the last ice age, and it is believed that it reached the sea some 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. Currently the glacier ends about 15 km from the Tasman Sea and the West Coast of the South Island.

Being a slow moving frozen river, the stunning glacial landscape changes daily, and all safety warnings should be taken seriously.

Do[edit][add listing]

Visit the Glacier[edit]

  • Take an unguided trip. Do not pass the warning barriers at the Glacier.
  • Take a guided trip.
  • Take a helicopter flight.

Franz Josef Glacier Guides [1] offer a range of trips taking visitors up on the majestic Franz Josef Glacier. From Valley Walks, half and full day options to ice climbing and heli hiking, there is a trip to suit every ability. Franz Josef Glacier Guides is the only operator permited to guide on the Franz Josef Glacier. bookings are esential - either through www.franzjosefglacier.com or 0800 GUIDES (NZ only)

Air Safaris [2] provide scenic flightseeing tours flying from Franz Josef. The Grand Traverse scenic flight from here offers an incredible view of the mighty Franz and Fox Glacier and rugged Westland National Park before traversing Mount Cook and the main divide to explore the vast Mount Cook National Park.

Whitewater Rafting[edit]

  • Whataroa & Perth Rivers. 20 minutes north of Franz Josef are two of the best one-day whitewater rafting runs anywhere on the planet. Total wilderness experience, awesome Class IV & V rapids, and stunning scenery. Accessible by helicopter only. Rivers Wild [3] 0800-GO-WILD (in NZ) or +64-21-748-371 (overseas)

Hot Pools[edit]

  • Enjoy relaxing in the newly built hot pools fed with pure glacier water. You can also book a massage after a long day exploring the Glacier. Prices for the pools start from $23.00 per adult, and massages from $85.00 for a half hour. Find out more here http://www.glacierhotpools.com/

Buy[edit][add listing]

The Glacier Shop in the Alpine Adventure Centre on the Main Rd of Franz Josef (Ph: 03 752 0131) offers a wide range of quality gifts, clothing and souvenirs. You may also be interested in visiting their other store, The Hobnail Shop in the Fox Glacier Guiding Building, Main Road, Fox Glacier.

  • Skydive Franz, Top End, Main road, Franz Josef, 0800458677, [4]. Dawn to Dusk. Skydive Franz offers potentially the best skydiving experience available in the world. What better way to enjoy this wonderful place than to free fall though the sky and float gracefully to the ground using the world’s most modern, safest and most comfortable tandem parachute systems available. $295.  edit


Eat[edit][add listing]

At the Blue Ice Cafe, and enjoy the music upstairs after your meal. Licensed till 3am, has DJs in house through the tourist season and has rave reviews for the Lamb Shanks, Whitebait and Pizza!

Drink[edit][add listing]

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Franz Josef YHA Youth Hostel Cheap, good, great views. Also has a stone fireplace. [5]
  • Glenfern Villas (Franz Josef luxury accommodation), State Highway 6 (Just a few kilometres north of the township), +64 3 752 0054, [6]. Glenfern Villas offers luxurious one and two bedroom villas, ideal for discerning travellers to use as a base for adventuring to the Glacier, jetboating, relaxing in the hotpools, hiking and just immersing yourself in the wonderful wild West Coast atmosphere. Glenfern Villas provide warm, comfortable, contemporary apartment style accommodation in Franz Josef Glacier,and your hosts add that extra touch of outstanding service and attention to detail.  edit
  • Punga Grove Motels and Suites (accommodation Franz Josef Glacier), Cron Street, Franz Josef (just off Franz Josef Highway SH6, which runs through the centre of town), +64 3 752 0001, [7]. Punga Grove Motels and Suites provide travellers with stylish motel accommodation right in the centre of Franz Josef Glacier township, so it is a very short walk from your base to the restaurants, cafes, shopping and tour services taking visitors up the Glacier. Superbly positioned in beautiful West Coast native rainforest,against a stunning backdrop of South Island peaks, Punga Grove offers high quality (4 star plus), beautifully appointed accommodation in one of the world's most spectacular regions.  edit
  • Westwood Lodge (Franz Josef bed & breakfast), State Highway 6 (1km from the bustling centre of town and easily accessible by car (with plenty of parking available) or by a pleasant 15 minute walk along a designated footpath), +64 3 752 0112, [8]. This luxurious bed and breakfast lodge is the ideal place to unwind and explore Franz Josef Glacier, with great views of the West Coast rainforest and the Alps. You are only a few minutes drive away from the Glacier, the beds are comfortable, atmosphere relaxing and the service is superb. Use Westwood Lodge as your base to explore the fascinating Glacier region.  edit
  • Bella Vista Motel Franz Josef Glacier, 34 Cron Street, Franz Josef Glacier, +64 3 752 0008, [9]. checkin: 2.00pm; checkout: 10.00am. Offers superior 4 star motel accommodation. Hotel style studios, self catering kitchenette & family units. We provide unlimited free wireless internet in all units. Lap top computer available for hire. Complimentary DVDs & book swap. Free off-street parking, guest laundry and BBQ area. We provide complimentary towels for the Glacier Hot Pools.  edit

Get out[edit]

Just down the road is Fox Glacier. The Fox Glacier is the biggest and least crowded of the West Coast glaciers.The Fox Glacier is also currently retreating.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION http://www.glaciercountry.co.nz/

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