Activities and Attractions in Franz Josef Glacier, West Coast

Franz Josef township is about 5 kms from Franz Josef Glacier, one of New Zealand's natural wonders and a sightseeing must. Only 10kms from the ocean on the unique west coast of New Zealand’s South Island, Franz Josef town rests in cool green native bush at the foot of the towering Southern Alps.

A New Zealand World Heritage area, Westland National Park has some of New Zealand's highest peaks including the highest, Mt Cook (Aoraki). A unique and spectacularly scenic spot, Franz Josef is the perfect base for a myriad of adventure, entertainment and sightseeing attractions:

Do a Free Walk to the Franz Josef Glacier Terminal Face

Although Franz Josef is famous for its heli-hikes (which we will get onto later), did you know there’s a free way to see the Franz Josef Glacier? In fact, there are a few, all of which are walks, with the most popular being the Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk. Wander through the breathtaking valley left behind by the Franz Josef Glacier to a viewpoint of the Franz Josef terminal face. The 1h30mins return walk also features the beautiful Trident Falls.

Location: Glacier Access Road, 5km (3 miles) from Franz Josef just south of the Waiho River Bridge.

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A guided walk of the Glacier Valley

Although walking in the Franz Josef Glacier Valley is one of the free things to do in Franz Josef, you can enrich your experience further by taking a three-hour guided hike through this immersive landscape with Glacier Valley Eco Tours. Learn all about how the valley was formed, about the local flora and fauna, as well as Maori legends and history of the area. Note this tour does not take you onto the glacier.

Location: 29 The Strand, Okarito, approximately 27km (17 miles) from Franz Josef township (pick-ups are available).

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Glacier Valley Eco Tours

Heli-Hike on the Franz Josef Glacier

Explore the ice giant itself on a glacier heli-hiking experience. Fly onto the Franz Josef Glacier and tie up your provided crampons in order for your guide to take you on a journey in and around the glacier. No two tours are the same in this ever-changing environment complete with ice caves and outstanding mountainous views on all sides. Book your heli-hike with Franz Josef Glacier Guides and The Helicopter Line on , Tripadvisor and KKday.

Location: Tours depart from The Helicopter Line office on Main Street, Franz Josef township.

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Do a Helicopter Flight Over the Southern Alps

Gaze upon a pristine landscape carved by glaciers on a scenic helicopter flight from Franz Josef. Fly over the Franz Josef Glacier and land on a secluded ice field with Glacier Helicopters. See both the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers before landing above them with The Helicopter Line West Coast. Or get the “grand tour” on a 40-minute flight around Aoraki Mt Cook, Franz Josef and Fox Glacier with HeliServices.NZ. See more tours like this in the 9 Best Luxury Experiences in Franz Josef.

Location: All tours depart from the helicopter operators’ offices on Main Street, Franz Josef township.

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Kayak on Lake Mapourika

Paddle on the reflective waters of Lake Mapourika on a kayaking tour with Franz Josef Wilderness Tours. No kayaking experience is necessary, as you glide across the waters with ease on this placid lake surrounded by lush rainforest and ever-present views of the mountains in the distance. Look out for wildlife like eels and follow your guide down hidden creeks while listening to local Maori legends. Check out Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook for more information on Franz Josef Wilderness Tours. Plus, compare this tour with others in the 10 Best Kayak Tours in New Zealand.

Location: Tours depart either from Franz Josef Wilderness Tours’ office on 63 Cron Street or Lake Mapourika Recreational Area.

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Quad Bike Through a Glacier Valley

Explore valleys, riverbeds and rainforest left in the wake of the Franz Josef Glacier on an exciting tour with Across Country Quad Bikes. This 2-hour tour has you off-roading on all sorts of terrain, from rivers to grasslands. You’ll get driving tips and a time to practice with your guide before setting out on a thrilling journey. Check out Across Country Quad Bikes on Viator and Tripadvisor. Plus, compare this ATV tour to others with our 10 Places to Quad Bike in New Zealand for Adventure Junkies.

Location: 30 Main Road, Franz Josef township.

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Skydive Over the Franz Josef Glacier

See the Franz Josef Glacier from epic heights on a 20,000ft skydive! Freefall at 200km/h (124mph) for up to 85 seconds in this ultimate adrenaline activity. The skydive with Skydive Franz & Fox is mixed with some of the most varied and epic scenery available in New Zealand with views of the highest peaks of the country, the Franz Josef Glacier and river valleys meandering their way out to the Tasman Sea. They also offer jumps from 16,500ft and 13,000ft – find out more about this skydive on Viator, Tripadvisor or Klook. Plus, compare this skydive to others with our 12 Places to Tandem Skydive in New Zealand.

Location: 46 Cron Street, Franz Josef township.

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