New Zealand Destinations: Franz Josef

Experience an unforgettable glacier adventure in the small South Island village of Franz Josef, named after its biggest attraction - the mighty Franz Josef glacier.



Franz Josef descends 12 kilometres from the peaks of the Southern Alps to the valley below, all within a World Heritage protected wilderness. The flow rate of Frans Josef is about 10 times faster than typical glaciers, meaning the landscape here changes almost daily, and the age and size of the glacier are powerful reminders that were all just visitors to this planet.


image via

The very best way to experience the glacier is on a Heli Hike. Take a thrilling chopper flight high above the glacier, witnessing some of the most pristine, otherworldly landscapes on this great earth, including ice pillars taller than multi-story buildings.

Your pilot touches you down on the top of the glacier, ready to take the rest of this once-of-a-lifetime journey on foot. You'll traverse breath-taking ice formations, see deep crevasses of the brightest blue, and even take passages through ice tunnels.



images via travel blogger Charlie Distracted


image via Cosmos Magazine

After your day on the ice, we suggest a long, languid soak at Glacier Hot Pools - in our opinion one of the best natural hot springs experiences to be had in New Zealand. Book a private pool - these are surrounded by ancient rainforest and offer total seclusion. The signature spa and massage treatments here are also very good.


When it's time to bed down for the evening, we recommend Te Waonui Forest Retreat, a luxury lodge. We love the natural, earthy ambience, the innovative sustainable architecture, and the attentive, personal service (with little touches that will delight).

te-waionui-luxury-lodge te-waionui-luxury-accommodation

Dine among the trees in The Canopy restaurant (the five-course degustation is a must-do) and rise to the sound of native bird call from the rainforest in which this luxury accommodation is set. If staying a couple of nights, Te Waonui is a lovely short walk from a great little local bar, Monsoon Bar - perfect for a sundowner or two.

One last tip - on the way into or out of Franz Josef, you simply must stop at the Curly Tree Whitebait Company on the Haast Highway. One of New Zealand’s delicacies, a whitebait is a tiny fish, usually around 25-50 millimetres in length, that Kiwis love made into whitebait fritters. It's an iconic food here! Best enjoyed fried, then served between two piece of fresh white bread - which is exactly the way Curly Tree do it. Don’t be put off by the dozens of eyes looking up at you as you eat, they're delicious!


Like to experience the majesty of Franz Josef glacier, and the lovely small village of Franz Josef?
Contact our luxury New Zealand travel team today, and let us plan a fabulous holiday for you!


Tags: Franz Joseph, New Zealand Destinations, New Zealand Mountains, South Island