The township of Franz Josef is located on the west coast of the South Island. It is renowned worldwide for its pristine wilderness and easy access to the spectacular natural glaciers of the region.

How to get to Franz Josef

Road travel to Franz Josef takes in some of New Zealand’s most dramatic and picturesque scenery. The road trip from Christchurch will take around five hours. Still, with many points of interest along the way, many visitors choose to break the journey or stop en route to extend the journey into a full-day trip. Key points of interest along the way include Arthur’s Pass village and the famous West Coast town of Hokitika.

At around the same journey time, the drive from Queenstown to Franz Josef is a popular and highly prized road trip experience. This journey through Wanaka to Hawea and the UNESCO World Heritage area of Haast will treat travellers to a vast array of incredible landscapes. There are also excellent rest stops, some with their own walking tracks and points of interest that are worthy of further exploration.

Once in Franz Josef, visitors can easily journey between this small township and the neighbouring town of Fox Glacier. Together, they make what is known as ‘Glacier Country.’ This spectacular natural environment lends itself to a myriad of nature-based activities. From hiking, heli-landings and glacier walks, guided mountain hikes, kayaking and much more.

Dining in the Region

Visitors to Franz Josef have the choice of dining at a number of excellent restaurants from relaxed casual dining right through to fine dining within the township. Canavan’s Restaurant at Scenic Hotel Franz Josef offers relaxed contemporary a la carte dining. For travellers seeking a fine dining experience then Te Waonui Forest Retreat presents the region’s premier dining and hospitality experience at The Canopy Restaurant. With a 5-course degustation menu and more casual dining options, guests can enjoy the best of New Zealand’s local and regional cuisine.

Throughout the region, visitors will find friendly, casual dining from local cafes and pubs.

Conferences, Meetings and Business Events

Te Waonui Forest Retreat presents an exceptional opportunity as an executive retreat or incentive destination. An enriching experience for business or pleasure, Te Waonui is the perfect retreat to formulate that next great business plan or to recognise and reward the past year’s efforts. With a region teeming with nature-based pursuits with everything from scenic helicopter flights, and glacier landings to wilderness walks, there is plenty to enjoy as a partner programme, team-building activity or personal experience. Te Waonui lends itself perfectly to discerning guests looking for an experience like no other.

Find out more about Te Waonui Incentive and Executive Retreats by clicking Business Retreats page.

What to See & Do in Franz Josef

Arguably one of the world’s most accessible wilderness areas, Franz Josef and the surrounding Glacier Country is abundant in ways to explore this spectacular region. Visitors to the region can easily go it alone with bush walks, mountain experiences, kayaking and self-driving. There is also a range of highly reputable tourist operations for those wishing to delve deeper into the region with local insights. Some of the activities on offer include; heli-hiking on a glacier, guided walks including family-friendly trails, wildlife tours including visiting the wildlife centre and kiwi conservation, and beach walking on nearby Okarito beach. Kayak, cruise and fishing experiences are available at nearby Lake Mapourika. Thrill seekers can also capture memories of a lifetime and tick off one of Red Bull’s nine ‘Most Insane Places to Skydive in the World’ with Skydive Franz.