Luxury Tours in Franz Josef Glacier
With such commanding landscapes between the verdant rainforest sprawling to the Tasman Sea to the glacier-carved valleys and rivers of ice in the Southern Alps, Franz Josef is a place that deserves to be experienced in the most premium ways. Helicopter safaris, heli-hiking, guided valley walks and eco-tours are all on the menu, while visitors can also take the time to hit the pause button on their travels with a luxury spa, fine dining and hot pools. Choose your ideal experiences with this list of the best luxury experiences in Franz Josef.
1. Fly Over Glaciers and Around New Zealand’s Highest Mountains on a Helicopter Safari
There are many remarkable ways to experience the famous glacier, but few are as epic and dramatic as a comprehensive helicopter tour. One of the most accessible options to get on the snow of New Zealand’s glaciers is with HeliServices.NZ, offering travellers the opportunity to see both the Franz Josef and the Fox Glaciers on a 40-minute flight. You also have the chance to see two of the highest peaks in New Zealand, Aoraki Mt Cook and Mt Tasman, and land on the snow within the Westland Tai Poutini National Park. Check out reviews and book this tour on Viator, Tripadvisor or Klook.
A slightly different 40-minute flight is available with The Helicopter Line, taking in the highest mountains, before landing on the snowfields of the Franz Josef Glacier and crossing the Southern Alps known as “The Divide” to fly along the Murchison Glacier valley. Either way, the tours are nothing short of breathtaking. See their tour on Viator, Tripadvisor or KKday.
Location: Heliservices.NZ – 29 Main Road. The Helicopter Line – 20 Main Road.
2. Hike on the Ice of the Franz Josef Glacier
Get onto the ice of the Franz Josef Glacier itself with an exciting heli-hiking experience. Join Franz Josef Glacier Guides and The Helicopter Line, who will gear you up with all the necessary crampons and warm clothing to explore the ice of the Franz Josef Glacier. After a short helicopter flight, you’ll land on the glacier where your mountaineering guide will pave the way with a pickaxe to show you the ever-changing ice caves, crevasses and distant waterfalls of New Zealand’s most famous glacier. They also offer ice-climbing tours for the next step in the adventure experience. Learn more about the experience and check out reviews on Viator, Tripadvisor and KKday.
Location: 20 Main Road, Franz Josef town centre.
3. Explore the Glacial Landscapes While Gaining Fascinating Insight on a Guided Walking Tour
For those who prefer to keep their feet firmly on the ground, another fantastic and insightful way to experience the landscape of the glaciers is on a guided walk and eco-tour. Glacier Valley Eco Tours offers a wide range of walking tours in the area, including in the Franz Josef Glacier Valley, the Fox Glacier Valley (that can’t otherwise be accessed by the public), and Lake Matheson. The guided experiences allow you to make the most of the Glacier Country landscapes with interesting commentary on the flora, fauna, glaciology, geology, history and local legends. Some of the experiences also include afternoon tea and essential hiking gear provided if you don’t have your own. For more details on Glacier Valley Eco Tours, check out their offerings on Viator and Tripadvisor. Plus, these tours also make great options if you have little ones in tow, as featured in the 10 Things to Do in Franz Josef with Kids.
Location: 29 The Strand, Okarito, approximately 27km (17 miles) from Franz Josef township (pick-ups are available).
4. Unwind in the Waiho Hot Tubs
On the coast that experiences the most tumultuous weather in the South Island, it’s a smart idea to have a rainy day backup. One such backup is the Waiho Hot Tubs. Enjoy an indulgent private wood-fired hot pool experience nestled among the dense Franz Josef rainforest. Bring your own nibbles and drinks and choose to add Epsom salts or lavender hydrosol to your pool. Compare this experience to other rainy day activities in the 10 Things to Do in Franz Josef on a Rainy Day.
Location: 64B Cron Street, Franz Josef town.
5. Catch Salmon or Brown Trout at Lake Mapourika
Not just a stunningly scenic lake with vivid reflections of the surrounding rainforest and Southern Alps, Lake Mapourika is also a spectacular lake for fishing. Join a local skipper and guide on a fishing charter with Franz Josef Wilderness Tours for three hours out on the water, trying your luck to catch quinnat salmon between October and March or brown trout all year round. All of the fishing gear and the licence is included, as well as a boat with indoor and outdoor seating suitable for all weather conditions. Find out more about Franz Josef Wilderness Tours on Klook, Viator or Tripadvisor.
Location: Lake Mapourika Recreational Area, Waiho, approximately 9km (6 miles) from Franz Josef town centre.
6. Do One of New Zealand’s Most Scenic Skydives
Adrenaline-seekers, don’t miss the opportunity to skydive above the Franz Josef Glacier and Southern Alps with Skydive Franz Josef. A professional operation with small groups and personal service (less like the factory work of the other skydiving centres in the country), Skydive Franz Josef takes you to soaring heights of up to 20,000ft when you’ll freefall over the West Coast glaciers and see the stunning scenery of the Southern Alps including Aoraki Mt Cook. Check out reviews and prices on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook. Plus, see how this compares with the 11 Places to Tandem Skydive in New Zealand.
Location: 46 Cron Street, Franz Josef town.
7. Indulge in a Spa Treatment at Amaia Luxury Spa
While you wait for the weather to clear up for your helicopter flight or skydive, indulge in some “me time” at Amaia Luxury Spa. Part of the Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier, the Amaia Spa is open to the public and offers an extensive menu of massages, facials, hands, feet and body treatments. Try therapies with local products made from manuka honey or treat yourself to complete spa package ranging from hot stone massages and facials to complete top-to-toe treatments including manicures and pedicures. They also offer couples’ treatments as explained in the 8 Romantic Activities in Franz Josef for Couples.
Location: 36 Main Road, Franz Josef town.
8. Soak in a Private Rainforest Hot Pools
Amidst the verdant rainforest hides the Glacier Hot Pools. Soak in one of the three main pools of the complex or treat yourself to one of the private pools. Each private pool was gifted their names by the local Maori iwi (tribe) and can be enjoyed in 45-minute sessions. Then you can get changed in your private changing area or head out to the main pools which are included in the private pool entry. Check out the Glacier Hot Pools on Viator or Tripadvisor.
Location: 63 Cron Street, Franz Josef town.
9. Be Treated to Degustation Dining Amidst the Rainforest
Franz Josef is home to some fabulous dining experiences and even fine dining in the case of The Canopy Restaurant. Lap up the views of the natural rainforest as you dine on local cuisine served in a five-course degustation dinner. They have indoor and alfresco dining with a prime position in the “canopy” of the forest. Part of the Te Waonui Forest Retreat, the restaurant of this five-star hotel also offers private dining in a romantic gazebo in a rainforest setting.
Location: 3 Wallace Street, Franz Josef town.
More Luxury Experiences in Franz Josef
That’s it for the best luxury experiences in Franz Josef but by no means the end of the things to do in Franz Josef. Be inspired by more experiences that don’t necessarily fall under the “luxury” category but are just as breathtaking in the following guides:
Finally, find even more tips to make your luxury getaway exceptional in The Luxury Travel Guide to New Zealand. Plus, plan the rest of your trip using the South Island Luxury Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days or South Island Luxury Itinerary: One Week / 7 Days.