Tourist Attractions around Franz Josef Glacier

Simply ask our hotel reception staff for more information on local attractions and activities. For your convenience we can also assist with booking these for you.

Helicopter Rides - 20min, 30min, 40min **

  • 20 min - Flight to either Franz or Fox Glacier including the snow landing.
  • 30 min - Flight to both the glaciers with a snow landing or a combo of Fox Glacier & Mt. Cook.
  • 40 min - This flight includes both the glaciers and Mt. Cook as well with a snow landing.

Heli-Hike - 4 hours**

  • A combined experience of a scenic flight over the Franz Josef glacier followed with a glacier hike with experienced guides who will take you on an amazing walk through the upper parts of the glacier.

Air Safari - Fixed Wing trip around 1 hour **  

  • The premier Aoraki Mount Cook flight seeing experience, the Grand Traverse encompasses two World Heritage National Parks amongst New Zealand's highest mountains and glaciers. It takes you to the spectacular views of the Franz, Fox and Tasman Glaciers and also Mt. Tasman and Mt. Cook along with the great views of the lakes and rainforests surrounding these regions.

Eco Rafting - Half a day trip, departs from Whataroa**

  • A half-day experience in the Whataroa River with grade 3-4 rapids, which are suitable for both rookies as well as experienced rafters.

Horse Riding - 1, 2 or 6 hour trip**

  • 1 hr - Offers the views of the Southern Alps, a ride through the Docherty Creek and also some good horse riding lessons for first timers.
  • 2hr - A nice horse ride through the west coast farmland with a view of the Alps as a backdrop and also the journey takes you through the rivers to give a spectacular experience.
  • 6hr - A breathtaking ride to the Waiho beach over the Omoeroa Bluff with some amazing views of Mt. Cook and Tasman on a clear day. If lucky you may catch a sight of seals and Bottlenose Dolphins.

Okarito Kiwi Tour - 3 to 6 hours, - night-time only - departs from Okarito**

  • This experience gives one a chance to look at the rarest breed of kiwis in their natural habitat. The guides are very well experienced and share their knowledge about the local wildlife and the forest.

Wildlife Centre - Normal business hours

  • This experience gives one a chance to see the rarest breed of kiwis up close. The WildLife Centre is a partnership with the Department of Conservation and the official home to the breeding and conservation programme of the Rowi Kiwi.

Hot Pools - any time from midday until 10pm

  • A great experience to relax and get rid of the tiredness. The facility provides public and private pools with a requirement of bookings for the private pools.

Massage - By appointment 30min, 1 hour, 1.5 hours

  • A great massage after a long and tiring day with a requirement for bookings to be made.

Quad Bikes - around 3 hours (any weather, great for rainy days)

  • A 3 hr. experience on the rocky beds of the river originating from the glaciers and the spectacular views of the Southern Alps. Drivers above 16 can easily ride with a few tips from the guides who also provide the history of the glaciers and the region.

Lake Tour - 1.5 hours, Lake Mapourika

  • The tour starts in Lake Mapourika, which is a 10-minute drive north of Franz Josef Glacier. It is the most relaxed way to have a view of the highest mountains in New Zealand, Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman, also with the breath taking views of the glacier that created this beautiful lake.

Buggies - 12 lap circuit or 1 ½ hour ride

  • A fun activity on a 250cc kart with seating capacity of two only 5km south of Franz Josef. It is an off road driving experience with views of spectacular mountains and the beautiful farmlands in this region; the only requirement being that you need to be over 14 years of age and take some warm clothing when it is cold.

Okarito Boat Tour - 1 or 2 hour tour - departs from Okarito

  • The open-air boat allows a total sensory experience with 360-degree views as you drift quietly amongst feeding birds including the Kotuku – Great White Heron, Royal Spoonbills, the intrepid godwits from Siberia and Alaska, the leggy Pied Stilts, and many others. The towering Southern Alps, Mount Cook and Mount Tasman and Franz Josef Glaciers make for a spectacular backdrop to the coastal and rainforest environment on clear days.

Okarito Kayaking - 2 hours or half a day, until 2:30 pm - departs from Okarito

  • Kayaking is one of the best ways to view the flora and fauna of this unmodified coastal wetland. Okarito Lagoon covers more than 3240 hectares of shallow open water and is well known for its outstanding avifauna (over 70 species of birds have been recorded here). The lagoon is a common feeding ground for Kotuku (White Heron) and Royal Spoonbill, both of which breed in the nearby Waitangiroto Nature Reserve. The various options of hiring these services give a lot of flexibility to this activity.
  • Two hour, half day, full day and overnight rentals and also guided tours are available for this amazing kayaking experience.

White Heron Sanctuary - 3-½ hour trip. Departs from Whataroa

  • The tour takes around 2 to 3 hours, which includes a bus trip from Whataroa. In this time frame you get to see the only nesting site of Kotuku (White Heron) in New Zealand. It is the best way of being able to view this amazing bird in its natural habitat along with many other bird species found in this area with each and every detail being given by the experienced guides.

Guided Walk - Half Day or Full Day

  • Half Day - a great intro to the world of ice, providing a longer duration of time spent on ice with the best ice equipment and friendly guides to lead you onto the lower reaches of Franz Josef Glacier. It is a moderate difficult hike with the ice time of about 2hours, the whole trek taking 4.5 hours.
  • Full Day - a great trek on the glacier with some spectacular views of the ice falls, crevasses and the amazing glacier itself. The special skills of the guides who guide you through the safest routes including some vital information about the glacier makes this trek one of the best in the world.

Glacier Country Kayaking - Half Day

  • This kayak tour offers a unique experience where you will paddle through a protected habitat with panoramic views of the glaciers and mountains. Weather is a feature of the tour - sandwiched between mountains and sea; Lake Mapourika has its own microclimate, which enhances the ambience of the experience. With all equipment provided and expert paddling advice, you should remain warm and dry on your eco-tour.

**Needs favourable weather


Local Walks:

  • Tatare tunnels walk- 1hr. 20 min. return (torch required)
    An easy hike gets steep towards the later half of the hike, to the old tunnels, which were used to get water of the Tatare River to Franz Josef for the generation of electricity. Be prepared to walk through cold water.
  • Canavans knob- 1hr. Return
    A good small hike on to the mountain to have some spectacular views of the glacier and the coast.
  • Alex knob- 8hr. Return
    A great trek for those who prefer to hike without guides. Involves steep climbing through the sub-alpine terrain to get some amazing views of the glacier from a height and also the west coast & the Tasman Sea.
  • Roberts point- 6hr. Return
    A great steep climb through the forests, rocky terrain and swing bridges to eventually have a high viewpoint of the glacier from the east.
  • Terrace walk- Glow worm track, 30 min. return
    A small walk through the forest, usually a spectacular walk in the night to see the trees being lit up by the glowworms.
  • 3 mile walk Okarito- 3hr. Return
    A panoramic walk through the forest to get breathtaking views of the Southern Alps, lagoons, glaciers and the ocean.

Bike Rides:

  • All around the town.
  • To the glacier parking and back, 1hour return.
  • To the beach where Waiho river meets Tasman Sea (19km).
  • A nice ride along with the riverbed from Franz Josef to the Tasman Sea. Offers great views of the snow capped mountains, rivers, lakes and finally the beach.


  • Skydive
    Offering the highest jump of 18000ft. In the southern hemisphere, this height is only matched by a very few in the world. This is the most panoramic a skydive could get, with the views of the highest mountains in New Zealand to the views of the forests, lakes, rivers, ocean and the snow capped mountains to top it up. All the equipment is provided as well as the best and most experienced skydivers and pilots to assist you in making this experience unforgettable.
  • Ice climbing
    An adventure and adrenalin packed day waits for you with some of the best equipment and some well needed technical knowledge about this exhilarating sport. One gets to enjoy this amazing ice-sport while being surrounded by some amazing views of the glacier. No experience required.
  • Rock climbing
    For those who like to live life on the edge and have a heart for some excitement, Franz Josef provides some monster rock mountains to test your skills of rock climbing. Personal gear is required as there are no guided treks available.


Te Waonui Forest Retreat
3 Wallace Street
Franz Josef Glacier 7886
Phone 03 752 0555
Fax 03 752 0550

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