Franz Josef, New Zealand is known for it’s glacier. I wrote about all the different ways to explore Franz Josef Glacier but there is more to this little village than just the glacier. I spent the majority of my Working Holiday Visa on the North Island and wanted to spend a little extra time close to the Southern Alps before I left. I decided Franz Josef would be the perfect place. I spent a month working for accommodation at a hostel there. This gave me the opportunity to really see everything Franz Josef has to offer. So, let get into that…
There are tons of bush walks around the town. Some are near the glacier and you can view the glacier while on the trail, but there are others like the Callery Gorge walk I did that is on the other side of town. There are tons of hikes you can do around the town. I would definitely recommend it too. The West Coast region of New Zealand is a rainforest and has some of the most beautiful lush green vegetation that I’ve seen in a long time.
Like most tourist location in New Zealand, you can skydive. I waited to skydive in Franz Josef. I felt like it would give me the view I wanted. You get a great view of the Southern Alps including Mount Cook and you can also see the Tasman Sea at the same time. The Franz Josef Skydive is the highest in New Zealand at 19000 ft (I only did the 16000 ft) so if you want to go big, go in Franz Josef.
You can warm up in the Hot Pools. If you do one of the Franz Josef Glacier Guide tours, this is included for you. There were 3 pools at 3 temperatures so you can find the one that is right for you. While it wasn’t quite as nice as the hot mineral pools in Rotorua, it was a nice place to relax and warm up after spending time on the cold ice. I visited Franz Josef in winter so it was just nice to warm up in general.
There is the West Coast Wildlife Centre where you can view Kiwis. Kiwis aren’t the easiest to spot in the wild so the Wildlife Centre is where I was able to see them. The centre is a breading facility and do a lot of work to help the Kiwi population. You can learn all about the work they do for Kiwis, learn about the glacier (if you didn’t go on the guided tour and learned all about it then), and learn how the West Coast was settled. It’s a decent place if you’re looking for something to do during one of the many rainy days.
So, as you can see, there is a lot more to Franz Josef than just the glacier. I am happy I spent a month in Franz Josef and was able to experience all the different sides to the village. What do you think about the non-glacier things to do in Franz Josef?