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Franz Josef Glacier

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Business Type: Destination


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Address: State Highway 6, Westland National Park, West Coast Fox Glacier & West Coast



Visitors are often surprised to find such a warm/mild climate in Franz Josef given the proximity of the glaciers and the highest peaks of the Southern Alps only a few kilometres from the township. 

Two guiding companies offer a variety of guided glacier walks and climbing experiences, to suite all ages and abilities. Heli-hikes and scenic flights with or without snow landings are also available.  

Other activities include a variety of rafting experiences, white heron sanctuary tours, rainforest and coastal walks. Franz Josef township offers a range of quality accommodation, hotels, cafes, arts and craft retail, a general store and service station for motoring needs. 

At 12km long, this icy expanse certainly is a sight to behold. Together with Fox Glacier further down the Coast, the glacier descends from the Southern Alps to less than 300 metres above sea level, set amongst lush rainforest. From the car park, it’s a 40 minute walk to the terminal face of the glacier. Several other walks in the area offer great views of the glacier. Respect the roped off area and signs – this is a changeable and dangerous environment.

Glacier country is a popular visitor destination, we recommend booking ahead in the peak summer season (from Dec-Feb). 

The first European to explore Franz Josef Glacier was geologist Julius von Haast, in 1865.  He named the glacier after the Austrian emperor.

Only 5km from its namesake town, it is a short 20min walk to its terminal face or somewhat further to look out points.

For the more adventurous, there are a variety of guided tours, ice hikes, heli-hikes and sightseeing trips that can be organised from the township.  It is recommended that accommodation and tours are booked in advance to avoid disappointment in the busy summer season.



Drive or walk south from the Franz Josef Waiau township across the Waiho River bridge and turn left onto the Glacier Access Road or Te Ara a Waiau. Drive or walk for approximately 4 km to the car park at the end of the road.
From the car park, it

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Franz Josef Glacier

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