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Franz Josef

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Franz Josef is a locality that exists mainly to serve visitors to Franz Josef Glacier. Located at the foot of the western slopes of Mount Cook, 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. For a really cheap option, try Intercity Bus - services start at $1.

Get around[edit]

See[edit][add listing]

Franz Josef Glacier. The 12 km long 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 attractions for visitors. The Glacier area (which also includes Fox Glacier) attracts up to 250,000 tourists every year - most of them viewing 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. It is receding at present. Being a slow moving frozen river, the stunning glacial landscape changes daily, and all safety warnings should be taken seriously. There are a number of walking tracks in the glacier valley. (43.4670 S,170.1915 E) edit

Do[edit][add listing]

Franz Josef Glacier Guides, 63 Cron St, +64 3-752 0763 (toll free: 0800 GUIDES), [1]. Offers a range of trips up on the glacier. From Valley Walks, half and full day options to ice climbing and heli hiking, there is a trip to suit every ability. It is the only operator permitted to guide on the glacier. Bookings are essential, availability can be checked online.  edit

Air Safaris, Main Rd, +64 3 752 0716 (toll free: 0800 72 32 74), [2]. Provides scenic fixed wing flightseeing tours. The Grand Traverse scenic flight offers a view of the 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.  edit

  • There are several other flightseeing, hiking, and quad tour companies. All offer similar experiences and have comparable prices. If you decide to visit the glacier on your own, which many do, DO NOT PASS ANY BARRIERS. The glacier moves 1-4m daily and can be very dangerous if you are past a warning barrier

Glacier Hot Pools, 63 Cron St, + 64 3 752 0099 (toll free: 0800 044 044, ), [3]. 1pm-9pm. Fed with pure glacier water. Public pool and private pools. You can also book a massage after a long day exploring the Glacier.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

The Glacier Shop in the Alpine Adventure Centre on the Main Rd (Ph: 03 752 0131) offers a wide range of quality gifts, clothing and souvenirs. They have another store, The Hobnail Shop in the Fox Glacier Guiding Building, Main Road, Fox Glacier.

  • Skydive Franz, Top End, Main road, 0800458677, [4]. Dawn to Dusk. 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. Has a stone fireplace. [9]
  • Glenfern Villas, State Highway 6 (a few kilometres north of town), +64 3 752 0054, [5]. Luxurious one and two bedroom villas. Warm, comfortable, contemporary apartment style accommodation.  edit
  • Punga Grove Motels and Suites, Cron St (just off Franz Josef Highway SH6, which runs through the centre of town), +64 3 752 0001, [6]. Stylish motel accommodation in the centre of town, so a very short walk to restaurants, cafes, shopping and tour services to the Glacier. Positioned in beautiful native rainforest, against a stunning backdrop of peaks, it offers high quality (4 star plus), beautifully appointed accommodation.  edit
  • Westwood Lodge, State Highway 6 (1km from the centre of town (with plenty of parking available) and easily accessible by a pleasant 15 minute walk along a designated footpath), +64 3 752 0112, [7]. This luxurious bed and breakfast lodge has great views of the rainforest and Alps. A few minutes drive from the Glacier, the beds are comfortable, and atmosphere relaxing.  edit
  • Bella Vista Motel Franz Josef Glacier, 34 Cron St, +64 3 752 0008, [8]. checkin: 2.00pm; checkout: 10.00am. Superior 4 star motel accommodation. Hotel style studios, self catering kitchenette & family units. 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. Complimentary towels for the Hot Pools.  edit

Get out[edit]

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

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