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.
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.
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:
Aspen Court Franz Joseph:
Excellent location, accommodation and staff. We would’ve stayed here if not for the Airbnb. $102USD/night
More of a backpacker hostel, this place is centrally located and more affordable. $53USD/night
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.
Franz Joseph Glacier Valley Walk:
Duration of Hike: 1.5 hours total roundtrip
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.
Where To Eat…
A wide menu of western food and good beer.
Nice atmosphere with a more upscale menu.
Snake Bite Brewery:
Asian fusion with great service. Get the beef cheek rendang.