Should I pre-book activities in Franz Josef before I arrive?
According to the map, Franz Josef is not much more than a small dot on the side of the highway. Nestled amongst the towering Southern Alps, you could be mistaken for thinking Franz Josef is a sleepy little village. But once you arrive, you’ll realise that for a small town, it packs quite a punch.
Franz Josef and surrounding Glacier Country offer some of the most spectacular activities there are to do. Here, you can be dazzled by the scenery, thrilled by adrenaline activities and impressed by the food, artists and accommodation.
So, the question for many visitors to Franz Josef Glacier is how do I squeeze everything in? And do I need to pre-book activities in Franz Josef?
The Hot Spot
Franz Josef Glacier and neighbouring township, Fox Glacier, are located on the state highway running the length of the West Coast. This highway is one of the main routes for anyone travelling from Christchurch or Nelson down to Queenstown in the south. With spectacular scenery on offer, thousands of tourists each year choose to take the scenic West Coast road to travel the South Island.
In summer, the West Coast road is bustling with visitors exploring the district as they discover walking trails, waterfalls, rivers, lakes, glaciers and the world-famous landscapes of Westland National Park. Things will get busy (we guarantee it).
So if a glacier hike, a skydive, or a three-day hike is on your bucket list, you can bet there are plenty of other visitors who have the same idea.
Here are our top tips for avoiding disappointment.
1. Don’t Rush:
Leave yourself plenty of time to explore all that the West Coast district has to offer. Avoid the disappointment a tight itinerary will bring. Leave time to meander through scenic spots and book activities on a whim. And don’t forget the single-lane and very windy highways make travel times longer than expected.
2. The West Coast Weather Factor Fact:
It rains a lot on the West Coast. Those famous torrential downpours may put a dampener on your outdoor activities, but don’t forget that rainfall is also responsible for nourishing the lush West Coast rainforest surrounding us. If you’re booking activities that involve aircraft like flightseeing, skydiving or glacier hiking, it’s wise to factor in an extra day or two as a contingency plan. Tour companies will always reschedule you for the next available day, but you’ll only be able to do that if you have some extra time in your schedule. When on the West Coast, it’s wise to factor in the “weather factor”.
3. Do Your Research.
Visitors are often surprised by how there is on offer on the West Coast and say they wish they knew how much there was to do before they arrived. So, do your research before arriving in Franz Josef so you can fit everything in.
4. Mix It Up
You may be an adrenaline junkie who seeks out the nearest thrill as soon as you hit town, but make sure you factor in some time to appreciate the natural landscapes of Glacier Country. Westland National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage area. Take some moments of silence to appreciate the powerful raw beauty of the area. Likewise, if your West Coast itinerary is made up of gentle activities, why not do something that scares you. Just once.
5. Come Back Again
After seeing all that the West Coast has to offer, we’re pretty sure you’ll want to come back for more. We’d love you to visit again, so why not.