Visit Franz Josef, New Zealand with Mighway

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Franz Josef / Waiau is a small town in the West Coast region of the South Island of New Zealand. Whataroa is 32 kilometres (20 mi) to the north-east, and the township of Fox Glacier is 23 kilometres (14 mi) to the south-west. State Highway 6 runs through the town. The Waiho River runs from the Franz Josef Glacier to the south, through the town, and into the Tasman Sea to the north-west. The population was 330 in the 2006 census, an increase of 9 from 2001. The town is named after the Franz Josef Glacier – itself named by Julius von Haast in honour of the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I of Austria. Following the passage of the Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998, the name of the town was officially altered to Franz Josef / Waiau. The glacier's terminal face is 5 kilometres (3 mi) from the town and its accessibility makes it a major tourist attraction and the reason many people visit Franz Josef. The town is within the Westland Tai Poutini National Park. Franz Josef offers many accommodation options for the up to 2,000 people staying overnight during the main season, ranging from hotels and motels to holiday houses, camping sites and backpacker accommodation. Other amenities include a petrol station, small but busy heliport and a number of restaurants and shops. The village is connected to the Franz Josef Glacier valley via walking tracks and a small sealed road leading into the valley from the highway just south of the village. Franz Josef village is also home to the West Coast Wildlife Centre, developed in 2010 and dedicated to hatching and rearing the world's two rarest species of kiwi, the rowi and Haast tokoeka. The centre offers bookings for behind the scenes tours of its kiwi hatching and rearing facilities.

Places to Visit near Franz Josef, New Zealand


Glacier Helicopters

Glacier Helicopters is a trusted and professional helicopter company, providing a number of aviation services within the West Coast region of the South Island, New Zealand. All helicopter flights depart from and return to Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier townships. Their bases are conveniently located on the main street of both townships. A courtesy coach is available to pick up and drop off passengers in the Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier area.

Glacier Valley Eco Tours

Glacier Valley Eco Tours is a NZ owned and operated local family business who specialise in small group guided walking tours in Glacier Country NZ. Their lead guide has been guiding in New Zealand National Parks for the last 16 years, and in the West Coast Glacier Valleys for the last 11 years.

The small group guided tours give you the unique opportunity to have loads of one on one time with your guide, who will give you information on local flora, fauna, glaciology, geology, history of the area while exploring tours in Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier, Lake Matheson and Okarito areas. They tailor groups to suit your ability, and take all ages from babies to the elderly.

These epic tours venture off the beaten path to explore areas further and more privately away from the unguided public. Glacier Valley Eco Tours hold a Department of Conservation license to operate guided tours in the South Westland World Heritage area. They provide guests with quality, informative, friendly and relaxed eco-style tours.

Tours go at your pace, with plenty of opportunities to take photos, stand under waterfalls, collect ice out of the river, and treasure hunt for native flowers, birds, mushrooms & wildlife. All tours includes complimentary morning/afternoon tea - a break to sit and admire a magnificent view while having a cuppa.

Campgrounds and Parks near Franz Josef, New Zealand


Theatre Royal Hotel Kumara

Step back into yesteryear when The Theatre Royal Hotel attracted visiting troupes and entertainers from all across the world!

Built in 1876, at the beginning of the Kumara gold rush, the Hotel was the meeting, entertaining and playing place for the miners who had arrived in Kumara, from all around the world. The first owners were Annie and Otto Anderson. Otto was from Scandinavia and Annie from Germany. Prior to the first church being built, confirmations were held in the Hotel. A thirty metre theatre was added and travelling shows would come from England and America to perform. The famous New Zealand poet, Thomas Bracken, was a popular guest performer. Richard John Seddon was often known to take to the stage and sing.

Dancing girls were employed to “dance” with the miners. One of the rooms was sound-proofed, with walls lined with sawdust, which was used when more than dancing was required. When the gold was being struck, the message would be passed down to Annie to get the dancing girls ready, as “the boys were coming to town”.

When current owners Kerrie and Mark Fitzgibbon purchased the hotel in 2010 it was derelict, vandalised and in total disrepair. Two years were spent with local tradesmen working to restore and rebuild the old building, which holds many special memories for Coasters of today.

The Hotel was reopened in November 2012 and was presented with the HANZ Award for Excellence as the Best New/Redeveloped Accommodation Hotel in New Zealand in 2013. The Hotel has since been awarded the HANZ Award for Excellence as New Zealand’s Best Country Hotel in 2014 and again in 2015.

If you are on the West Coast don’t miss the opportunity to stop in for a drink, a meal, or spend the night! The staff will happily show you around and tell the tales of times gone by.

The walls contain many stories.

Visit Theatre Royal Hotel Kumara

Rainforest Retreat Holiday Park

Immerse yourself in the spectacular mountains and bush of New Zealand’s West Coast. Rainforest Retreat is a unique destination with varied options to suit the budgets and needs of all travellers.

Nestled in six acres of idyllic native bush, centrally located in the heart of Franz Josef Village, Rainforest Holiday Park offers a range of accommodation options.

On site facilities include Monsoon Bar & Restaurant with great tunes, cozy fireplace, cheap drinks and meal deals, hot bubbling spa pools, sauna, pool tables, BBQ area, internet access, laundry facilities. linen hire, waste station, children's playground and Sky Digital TV. Plus large, modern communal facilities blocks with TV lounge, commercial kitchen, spotless well equipped bathrooms and vending machines.

Visit Rainforest Retreat Holiday Park

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