What’s Fab in Franz?
Fact: It rains… a lot! You’re visiting a rainforest after all. Make sure to pack your finest waterproof layers and some decent shoes because regardless of if its raining, you will want to get out and explore beautiful glacier country.
Kiwi & Tuatara
Two of New Zealand’s native and endangered animals call the Coast home, and you can meet them at the West Coast Wildlife Centre. The Rowi or Okarito Brown Kiwi is the rarest of the 5 kiwi species with around 450 alive today with the help of Operation Nest Egg and the centre. Take a walk through their natural bushwalk and see if you can spot the Rowi or Tuatara – New Zealand’s very rare and last surviving reptiles from the age of the dinosaurs.
After the sun has set for the day, grab your torch, some sturdy walking shoes or gumboots and head out into the forest to find these bioluminescent critters hanging in the trees. We have our very own glowworm that can only be found in New Zealand and Australia which makes it all the more special. The Tatare Tunnels Walk and the Terrace Walk are prime spots to start your glow worm hunt!
If you’re like us and you love to look up and marvel at the universe then doing that in Franz is something you should definitely do… at night… while the stars and milky way are putting on a brilliant show. The West Coast is not officially part of Aotearoa’s Dark Sky Project, but light pollution is minimal and it’s the perfect location for a spot of stargazing.
Best set your alarm because you’re waking up early for this one! Known as the ‘mirror lake’ and one of the most iconic and photographed spots in NZ, Lake Matheson is famous for perfectly mirroring its surrounding nature and creating a surreal experience for those lucky enough to see it. Not only does it act as a mirror, but it also gives some of the best views of New Zealand’s tallest and famous mountain, Mt Cook. A walk around the lake will take you approximately 1.5 hours to complete and is family-friendly!
Franz Josef Glacier
One of the only ways to see the glaciers up close these days is by taking a helicopter flight and landing directly on it/flying over it! Over the years, environmental factors mean the glacier has receded and viewing from the “Valley Walk” or Canavans Knob are not as prime as they once were, but you can still catch a glimpse. Heli tours leave daily, (weather dependent) and give you the option of a fly over or level it up with a ‘heli hike’ – traversing through ice caves and ice formations with your experienced guide. For those that like their feet firmly on the ground – the Alex Knob Track is one to research for the avid hikers among us!
Get wet and dirty… Deliberately! Prepare to get bumpy and hop on four wheels and take off on an ATV tour. This adrenaline filled two-hour journey will have you speeding through puddles and mud, across rivers and through ancient rainforests and give you some fantastic views of the famous Franz Josef Glacier.
Ready, aim, fire! Not exactly what we thought we’d be doing here but Franz is home to an all-weather clay-shooting range. Franz Josef Clay shooting offer two-hour ‘shoot-em-up’ sessions where clay discs will be sent flying into the air and it’s your job to shoot them from the sky!
Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools
Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools: After a day of exploring, why not take a soak and revive those weary muscles? The Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools are well worth a visit – nestled in lush rainforest where nature rules, you’ll find three main pools fed with natural glacial water. The pools were built around the existing trees and fauna as not to disturb too much of the natural habitat and creates a truly magical experience for anyone visiting. If you fancy your experience a little more romantic, book one of the three private pools, perfect for two to relax and unwind. Know before you go: The Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools are open seasonally. Check their website to make sure they are open!
Waiho Hot Tubs
Just across the road, you’ll also find the Waiho Hot Tubs – each tub is private and heated by wood fire, providing an aromatic scent of wood smoke to accompany your soak!
Walk on water
Last, but not least, do not forget your bug spray! The coast is notorious for blood hungry sandflies but what else would you expect when your entering a jurrasic like world… without the dinosaurs!