New Zealand: Franz Joseph Glacier & Okarito

Franz Joseph is the cutest little town ever, with a small main street of restaurants, cafes, shops and one grocery store. Conveniently, the glacier is a 5 minute drive from downtown. I’d suggest staying two nights here maximum, or just pass through on the way to the next destination. You can hike the glacier and take a chopper ride in one full day.

How To Get Around:

Photo Credit: Juicy Rentals

Franz Joseph is a 20 minute drive from Fox Glacier and almost 5 hours from Queenstown and Christchurch.

Renting A Car: This is a MUST while visiting New Zealand, as most of its sights are far apart. Be sure to rent/bring a GPS, especially if you won’t have wifi on your phone. For 2 weeks, we rented a car for about $600USD (around $40USD/day). Note: New Zealanders drive on the opposite side of the road as Americans, so be careful!

RV Rental: Many people rent a camper van/motor home and utilize that as both their transport and accommodation (we’ll be doing this next time!). Juicy Rentals is by far the most popular in town. A standard camper van will cost about $1470USD for 2 weeks (around $105USD/day). Don’t forget to factor in the cost of gas.

Juicy Rentals Website

Where To Stay:


There are a lot of accommodations in both Franz Joseph and Fox, but we opted to stay in an Airbnb at the nearby beach town of Okarito (30 minutes from Franz Joseph Town), which I’d highly recommend. It’s a quiet, small town, right on a beautiful beach. Many people camp/park their RV’s there as well. The night sky is so dark and clear, it’s absolutely perfect for star gazing.

For $36 off your first Airbnb booking, click HERE:

Airbnb Okarito Website

Okarito Town Info

Aspen Court Franz Joseph:

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Excellent location, accommodation and staff. We would’ve stayed here if not for the Airbnb. $200USD/night

Aspen Court Franz Joseph Website

Rainforest Retreat:

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This accommodation has it all, from deluxe retreat rooms, to backpacker hostel bunks, and is centrally located. Dorms start at $40USD per person and the deluxe rooms go up to $700.

Rainforest Retreat Website

What To Do: 

Franz Joseph Heli Services Snow Landing:

Cost: $240NZD ($165USD)

Duration: 20 minutes, 6,000 feet

Heli: 6 people + 1 pliot

TIP: Get the FRONT seat!

Notes: It is so amazing to see the glacier from an aerial view versus hiking it (both are recommended), and I totally think the shortest heli ride is worth it to see the view, while still being able to walk around at the top of the glacier for 10 minutes. There are MANY different flight options, so have a look at their website.

Scenic Flights Franz Joseph Website

Franz Joseph Glacier Valley Walk:

Cost: Free!

Duration of Hike: 1.5 hours total roundtrip

Difficult: Mild

Notes: Sadly, like Tasman Glacier, Franz Joseph glacier has been melting over the years due to global warming and you cannot hike up close to it, which is why I totally suggest taking the heli ride. The hike was lovely, as the landscape included, mountain, rivers, a bridge, a waterfall and lots of rocks from the melted glacier.

Franz Joseph Glacier Walk Website

Where To Eat:

The Landing:

A wide menu of western food and good beer.

The Landing Bar Website

Alice May:

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Nice atmosphere with a more upscale menu, Alice May offers typical New Zealand food: meat, potatoes and hearty dishes.

Alice May Website

Snake Bite Brewery:

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Asian fusion with great service. Get the beef cheek rendang. Yum!

Snake Bite Brewery Website

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Thank you SOOOO much for stopping by! 

XOXO The Traveling Blondie 

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