Named by early explorer Julius von Haast after the emperor of Austria, Franz Josef Glacier is an imposing geological feature bringing many visitors to the small town.
Activities here are mostly focused on the glacier and that of its sibling Fox Glacier just 30 minutes drive away. Most visitors will climb up the glacier with a qualified guide, but some experience the thrill of landing on the ice in a helicopter.
Recommended visitor attractions and activities in Franz Josef
Climb the face of the glacier
Take a helicopter flight and experience a snow landing
Go on a helihike with a qualified guide and see the blue ice caves
Enjoy a flight right around the glacier region in a small plane
visit the reflective Lake Matheson
Take in Flowing West – the Glacier Movie
What's your preferred level of activity?
Action adventure Heli hike on the glacier; ice climbing; white water heli rafting; skydiving.
Moderate activities Hike on the glacier; indoor ice climbing; kayak tour on a tranquil lake; horse trekking; off road go karts; quad bike tours.
Relaxing activities View the glacier from the lookout; Eco tour; visit Hukawai Glacier Centre; flight seeing; Okarito Lagoon birdwatching tours.
Children and young families Check out the glow worms in the bush at night; argo (amphibious vehicle) rides; twin kayaks; night time kiwi spotting walks.
Luxury motel accommodation in Franz Josef, located just 300 metres from the town centre and opposite the new Glacier Hot Pools Complex. Stay here for self catering Glacier accommodation in studio, 1 and 2 bedroom units.