BEST WAY TO SEE FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER
FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER ACTIVITIES
Discover the best of Glacier Country with our curated selection of must-see attractions and activities! At Ribbonwood Retreat, we're dedicated to helping you craft the perfect itinerary tailored to your interests, adventure level, and the local weather and tides. With a plethora of thrilling adventures in the region, we encourage you to stay a few nights to truly experience all that Glacier Country has to offer. To ensure you don't miss out on popular activities during peak season, we recommend contacting us when you book your stay to start planning your unforgettable trip.
As avid hikers and bird enthusiasts, we're eager to share our personal experiences and Jonathan's expert knowledge of local flora and fauna with fellow nature lovers. Explore our top picks for walks, nature tours, flights, and adventure activities in Franz Josef below.
Franz Josef Hikes
Discover the diverse and breathtaking hiking trails of Franz Josef and its surrounding areas, catering to all fitness levels and abilities. Delve into New Zealand's untouched temperate rainforest or explore closer to town – either way, you'll be captivated by the pristine beauty of nature. Choose your path: ascend to alpine gardens, blue ice caves, and glaciers, or meander under the rainforest canopy to serene water features like Lake Matheson, Lake Wombat, and Peters Pool, where tranquil mountain reflections await.
Keep an ear out for New Zealand's native bird species – their melodic calls will likely reach you before they come into view. Glacier Country's unique natural environment stands out as one of the few places on Earth free from dangerous animals or insects, ensuring a safe and unforgettable experience.
Nature & Wildlife Guided Tours
Immerse yourself in nature's wonders here in Glacier Country, where untamed landscapes abound. Discover New Zealand's highest mountains, including Aoraki/Mount Cook, the ocean, glaciers, mirror lakes, rivers, farmland, and more. This diverse region offers endless opportunities for exploration, but if time is limited, we've curated a list of the best experiences to maximize your visit. Guided tours provide an efficient way to discover all the stunning sights and experiences Glacier Country has to offer.
We are happy to book the activities below for you at no extra charge.
Explore by Sky
Embark on an exhilarating aerial adventure and discover the awe-inspiring Franz Josef Glacier and the Southern Alps from a unique perspective. Whether you choose a helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft, prepare for an unforgettable experience. Take to the skies and witness the glacier's immense beauty unfold beneath you. Soar above the icy expanse, marvel at its ever-changing landscape, and admire the intricate network of crevasses and ice formations. Enjoy a bird's-eye view of the surrounding snow-capped peaks and lush valleys as you glide through the air. Capture breathtaking photos and create lasting memories as you embrace the thrill of flying amidst nature's grandeur. With experienced pilots and state-of-the-art aircraft, Franz Josef is home to an array of excellent air operators ensuring a safe and extraordinary adventure in Franz Josef Glacier.
Franz Josef Glacier Cafes, Restaurants & Shopping
Franz Josef Glacier is a charming village nestled amidst the breathtaking landscapes of New Zealand's West Coast. Its stunning natural setting, complete with towering mountains, ancient glaciers, and lush rainforests, creates a serene backdrop for our bustling little town. Experience the vibrant local cafe and dining scene offering a diverse array of eateries and bars.
For the coffee aficionados, start your day with a visit to Snake Bite, The Wildlife Center or Full Of Beans. And as the day unwinds, head over to the Monsoon bar or again to Snakebite, King Tiger, The Landing, Blue Ice, or Alice May where you can enjoy a selection of great beverages and delicious food.
Franz Josef Glacier also offers a small yet unique shopping experience. Discover handmade crafts that encapsulate the spirit of the region at the Tui Gallery, a wide range of giftware at Ferngrove Gift & Design, Franz Josef Glacier merchandise at the Glacier Base, and further shopping at the Alpine Adventure Center and The Wildlife Center.
At Franz Josef Glacier, every moment is about embracing relaxation, fun, and exploration. Whether it's dining at a local eatery, enjoying a drink with a view, or finding the perfect souvenir.
Our Top Picks
Great White Heron Breeding Colony
The breeding colony of Kotuku (white heron) is located in the Waitangiroto Nature Reserve, north of the Okarito Lagoon in Westland, New Zealand. This is the only breeding colony of this endangered bird in the country and access to it is only possible with a guided tour. The average number of eggs laid is three and both parents share incubation duties for 28 days. Usually one or two chicks are raised successfully. During the breeding season, the colony is a hive of activity with Kotuku legs trailing and necks tucked in as they fly around.
Discover Okarito, New Zealand - a hidden gem on the West Coast. Take a kayak or guided tour to explore the largest unmodified estuarine lagoon in the country, home to more than 70 bird species including the beautiful Kotuku (White Heron). Visit the historic Wharf Shed and take a walk up Trig Track for breathtaking views of the Southern Alps. Experience the unique heritage of Okarito with its horse and dray "pack track" through lowland Rimu forest, and explore its beaches and wetlands.
Explore Glacier Country Area through Hiking! Franz Josef Glacier and beyond offers a variety of incredible hikes for all skill levels. From short day hikes to extended backpacking trips, you can experience the beauty of Glacier Countries alpine ecosystems and breathtaking views.
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and explore the beauty of Lake Mapourika near Franz Josef. This stunning lake is nestled in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park, surrounded by lush rainforest and majestic Southern Alps.
Swim or kayak in the pristine waters of this serene lake, with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Enjoy a peaceful cruise into the sheltered estuaries of the Ōkārito River, where you can spot native birds and other wildlife. With its crystal clear waters and tranquil atmosphere, Lake Mapourika is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
So come and explore this beautiful lake - take in its breathtaking scenery, relax in its peaceful atmosphere, and create memories that will last a lifetime!
Experience the awe-inspiring Franz Josef Glacier through exhilarating ice wall climbs in its upper reaches , take a scenic helicopter flight or join an engaging and relaxed eco-tour to uncover the glacier's natural wonders
Discover the 'Kiwi'
Embark on a unique journey to spot the elusive Okarito Brown Kiwi (Rowi) near Franz Josef Glacier, and experience the wonder of encountering one of New Zealand's rarest and most cherished native birds in its natural habitat with a Kiwi Tour.