The Luxury Guide to Franz Josef© Unsplash
The Luxury Guide to Franz Josef

The Luxury Travel Guide to Franz Josef [2024]

© Unsplash

How to Plan a Luxury Trip to Franz Josef Glacier

Be swept into the New Zealand pristine wilderness, from your five-star hotel amidst the rainforest to the snowfields of a magnificent glacier, at Franz Josef. There are many ways to experience the dramatic scenery that one of the world’s most accessible glaciers has left in its wake, between helicopter excursions to see scenery like something out of an epic fantasy (The Lord of the Rings, anyone?) and insightful guided hikes through the glacier valleys. With such lush surroundings, Franz Josef is also the ideal place to unwind with soothing hot pools, spa complexes and fine dining to match.

So plan your luxury getaway to a rainforest retreat on the West Coast with this luxury travel guide to Franz Josef.

The Top Luxury Tours in Franz Josef

For more details on each experience, see our 8 Best Luxury Experiences in Franz Josef.

The Luxury Guide to Franz Josef© Unsplash

Luxury Adventure Activities

Let’s waste not a single second in showing you all the amazing ways to experience the mighty Franz Josef Glacier.

Luxury Helicopter Flights in Franz Josef

One of the most accessible options for seeing the Franz Josef Glacier is a scenic helicopter flight complete with a snow landing. HeliServices.NZ offers travellers the unique opportunity to see both the Franz Josef and the Fox Glaciers on a 40-minute flight. 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, landing on the snowfields of the Franz Josef Glacier and crossing the Southern Alps known as “The Divide” to fly about the Murchison Glacier valley. See their tour on Viator, Tripadvisor or KKday.

Franz Josef Glacier Heli-Hiking

Amp up your glacier experience to the next level with a heli-hiking experience. Join Franz Josef Glacier Guides and The Helicopter Line for a hike on 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-evolving ice caves, crevasses and distant waterfalls of the Franz Josef Glacier. Learn more about the experience and check out reviews on Viator, Tripadvisor and KKday.

Guided Glacier Valley Hikes

For those who prefer to keep their feet firmly on land, another fantastic and insightful way to experience the landscape of the glaciers is on a guided hike. Glacier Valley Eco Tours offers a wide range of walking tours, including in the Franz Josef Glacier Valley, the Fox Glacier Valley, 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.

Discover more premium adventures, like one of New Zealand’s most scenic skydives or fishing on Lake Mapourika, in the 8 Best Luxury Experiences in Franz Josef.

The Luxury Guide to Franz Josef©

All-Weather Luxury Activities

As many of Franz Josef’s adventure activities are weather-dependent and the climate on the West Coast is tumultuous, it’s advised that you spend at least a couple of days in the area to increase your chances of a good weather day.

Amaia Luxury Spa

While you wait for the sun to shine, indulge in some of the relaxing all-weather activities in Franz Josef, like a spa treatment at Amaia Luxury Spa. Part of the Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier, the Amaia Spa is open to the public to be treated to an extensive menu of massages, facials, hands, feet and body treatments.

Glacier Hot Pools

Another way to relax and rejuvenate in Franz Josef is at the Glacier Hot Pools. Amidst the verdant rainforest, 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 for 45 minutes, then you can get either 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.

For more ideas for a wet day, including hot tubs, see the 10 Things to Do in Franz Josef on a Rainy Day.

The Luxury Guide to Franz Josef©

Fine Dining in Franz Josef

Franz Josef is home to some fabulous dining experiences and even fine dining in the case of The Canopy Restaurant (3 Wallace Street). Lap up the views of the natural rainforest as you dine on local cuisine served in a five-course degustation dinner. 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.

For a la carte dining, book a table at Canavans Restaurant (36 Main Road). Part of the Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier, this restaurant boasts local West Coast fare, beer and wine in an attractive open-plan setting, available by reservation only.

More About Luxury in Franz Josef

That’s it for the luxury travel guide to Franz Josef but by no means the end of our Franz Josef advice. Get more tips that don’t necessarily fall under the “luxury” category but are just as useful in the following guides:

Finally, find even more tips to make your luxury getaway exceptional in The Luxury Travel Guide to New Zealand and plan the rest of your trip using theĀ South Island Luxury Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days orĀ South Island Luxury Itinerary: One Week / 7 Days.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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