How to Spend 1 Day in Franz Josef
Enjoy a full day exploring the alpine wonderland of Franz Josef, New Zealand. Get up close to the touch snow or ice, admire glaciers as they carve their way slowly down the frozen valleys, look for wildlife, and relax in hot springs. Here’s how to make the most of a 1-day visit to Franz Josef.
Morning: Glaciers Galore
For quite literally one of the coolest experiences you can have in New Zealand, take a walk on a glacier. A guided heli-hike allows you to explore terrain usually seen only by experienced mountaineers. If you’d prefer to stay warm, opt for an eco-walk through the glacier valley and learn about local rain forest ecology. Or, for another kind of thrill, take in the views above Mount Cook (Aoraki) while free falling from as high as 19,000 feet (5,791 meters) on a tandem skydive.
Afternoon: Scenic Views From the Water
Located at the edge of the town of Franz Josef, Lake Mapourika is the place to go for fishing, kayaking, and stunning views of the nearby mountains. Charter a boat with a skipper and fish for brown trout and salmon, or simply paddle through the serene water in a kayak. Prefer a hands-free ride? Take a scenic boat cruise, which offers photo ops of the Southern Alps and the glaciers reflected in the water. Most tours last about three hours and offer several departures throughout the day and round-trip transfers.
Night: Nocturnal Creatures
After a day of adventures, you can warm up with a cozy meal or a soak in the Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools. (Admission to the pools is included with some heli-hiking tours.) You might also want to search for New Zealand’s favorite night creature, the elusive kiwi, with a visit to the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary. A visit to the sanctuary is included on some Lake Mapourika tours. If you’d rather stick around town for the evening, the centrally located Franz Josef Wildlife Centre allows a glimpse of the national bird inside a nocturnal house.