BUG New Zealand travel guidebook
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BUG New Zealand travel guidebook


BUG New Zealand travel guidebook

Destination guides > Pacific Islands > New Zealand > West Coast > Franz Josef

Franz Josef

Franz Josef is a compact tourist town that offers excellent accommodation options for backpackers. Everything here revolves around glacier tours and helicopter flights, but there are heaps of other activities available, including skydiving, quad biking, white water rafting and ice climbing. Kayaking on Lake Mapourika is very popular for the fantastic mountain reflections and sunsets. Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are similar and offer basically the same thing, but travellers tend to stay in Franz Josef for the facilities. You can visit the Hukawai Glacier Centre to get acquainted with the area and its offerings; there is an indoor ice climbing wall here as well.

Practical information

Westland Tai Poutini National Park DOC & i-SITE Visitor Centre

Main Road, Franz Josef
Tel (03) 752 0796
Website www.doc.govt.nz
Open 8am-noon & 1pm-5pm daily

Red Bus Internet

20 Cron Street, Franz Josef
Tel (03) 752 0230
Website www.glacierkayaks.com/internet_bus_email.html
Open summer 9am-9pm daily; winter 10am-8pm daily

Coming & going

Atomic Shuttles (tel (03) 349 0697), InterCity Coachlines (tel (03) 365 1113) and Nakedbus.com stop in Franz Josef en route between Greymouth and Queenstown. Buses stop at the bus stop on Main Road and some buses also stop outside the YHA hostel.

Hostel accommodation

Chateau Franz

8 Cron Street, Franz Josef
Tel (03) 752 0738

Franz Josef YHA

2-4 Cron Street, Franz Josef
Tel (03) 752 0754

No booking fee when you book this hostel online at bug.co.uk

Glow Worm Cottage

27 Cron Street, Franz Josef
Tel (03) 752 0172


9 Cron Street, Franz Josef
Tel (03) 752 0188

No booking fee when you book this hostel online at bug.co.uk

Rainforest Backpackers

46 Cron Street, Franz Josef
Tel (03) 752 0220 or 0800 873 346

Eating & drinking

Franz Josef is just a small village but there are several affordable restaurants and pubs, including the Monsoon Bar (46 Cron Street, Franz Josef) at the Rainforest Retreat Backpackers. There are a couple of cafés in town, the best one being Full of Beans (State Highway 6, Franz Josef), next to Franz Josef Glacier Guides. Guzzi’s Pizza (Cron Street, Franz Josef) is a cool little place with cheap pizza, fish and chips, and good espresso. If you are going on a long excursion, stock up on lunch and snacks at the Four Square supermarket (State Highway 6, Franz Josef) in the centre of town, or grab a cheap sandwich from Beeches Café (State Highway 6, Franz Josef).

Sightseeing, museums & tourist attractions

Hukawai Glacier Centre

The excellent Hukawai Glacier Centre features the glacier experience; an audio-visual display about New Zealand’s glacier region with information on the region’s flora, fauna, geology and Maori mythology. A visit to the Hukawai Glacier Experience is a great way to learn more about the region and it will give you a much better appreciation when you visit the glacier. The centre also features an indoor ice climbing wall.

Corner Cowan & Cron Streets, Franz Josef
Tel (03) 752 0600
Website www.hukawai.co.nz
Admission $15 Glacier Experience, $90 ice climbing, $100 Glacier Experience & ice climbing



Glacier Country Tours and Kayaks (tel (03) 752 0230 or 0800 423 262) run kayaking trips on Lake Mapourika, which is part of the Te Waihipaunamu World Heritage area. The three to four hour trip costs $75 and includes a CD-ROM with photos of your trip.

Horse riding

South Westland Horse Treks (tel (03) 752 0223 or 0800 1TREKS) run one hour to full day horse treks in the surrounding countryside. A one hour ride costs $50; a two-three hour ride is $90-130 and a five hour ride is $190.

Glacier hikes/ice climbing

Franz Josef Glacier Guides (tel (03) 752 0763 or 0800 GUIDES (0800 484 337)) run guided walks on Franz Josef Glacier, which is by far the most popular activity at Franz Josef. A half-day trip costs $90 and allows 1½-2 hours on the lower reaches of the glacier, a full day trip goes to the glacier’s mid-reaches and costs $140 for 6 hours on the ice. The more adventurous can go on a full day ice-climbing excursion for $220.

Helicopter flights

A helicopter flight offers a birds-eye view of the glacier and several of the helicopter operators are licensed to land on it.


Scenic helicopter flights start from a quick 20-minute buzz over Franz Josef Glacier ($180) to a 30-minute flight over both Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers ($240) or a 40-minute flight that takes in Mount Cook and Fox, Franz Josef and Tasman Glaciers ($340).

Helicopter flights are operated by several companies including Alpine Adventures (tel (0800 800 793) and the Helicopter Line (tel (03) 752 0767 or 0800 807 767).


Heli-hiking offers the best of both worlds. You get a scenic flight over the glacier and you also get to hike on the ice. Generally walking on the glacier is better on the heli-hikes as you get to the more remote parts of the glacier away from the tour groups.

Franz Josef Glacier Guides (tel (03) 752 0763 or 0800 GUIDES (0800 484 337)) operate heli-hike trips that cost $360.


Skydive Franz (tel (03) 752 0714 or 0800 458677) operate the world's highest tandem skydive where you can jump out of a plan at 19,000ft ($549) with 80 seconds of freefall. Skydive Franz also operate tandem skydives from 13,000ft ($299) and 16,000ft ($399).

Skydive Franz

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