Discover the ancient world of the West Coast, where ice sheets carve through mountains and native rainforests thrive upon the hills and astonishing blue waters teem with minerals, precious stones, and gold.
Breathe in the fresh scented air, from the mountain tops to the coastal breeze, on this phenomenal 4-day escape to the West Coast and Franz Josef.
- Spectacular helicopter glacier tour with heavenly views of the Southern Alps
- A world-class voyage through the mountains aboard the TranzAlpine train
- Meet New Zealand’s rarest kiwi, the Rowi
- Discover lush rainforests, twinkling glow-worms and snow-capped mountains
Franz Josef Glacier Experience Itinerary
- 4-Star Accommodation
- Morning tea on the TranzAlpine train
- 2-course dinner at Scenic Hotel Franz Josef
- TranzAlpine scenic train journey from Christchurch to Greymouth
- 4-Star Accommodation
- Breakfast at hotel
- Heli-Tour of the Southern Alps, featuring Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers
- 4-Star Accommodation
- Breakfast at the hotel
- West Coast Wildlife Centre
- Westland Wonderland 40-minute HELIMAX movie
- Breakfast at the hotel
- Afternoon tea aboard the TranzAlpine train
- TranzAlpine train
Day 1 Overview
Your Franz Josef Glacier Experience departs from Christchurch aboard the world-famous TranzAlpine scenic train, travelling through the magnificent Southern Alps to Greymouth on the West Coast.
On arrival in Greymouth, you will be greeted at the station by your transfer and taken on a scenic drive along the West Coast on your way to Franz Josef.
After checking into the spectacular Scenic Hotel Franz Josef, you'll enjoy an evening relaxing at the hotel with a two-course dinner.
TranzAlpine Christchurch to Greymouth train
On this world-famous train journey, you will see epic vistas, soar on the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River, traverse the Great Divide, and experience ever-changing landscapes.
The natural scenery isn’t the only marvel, though. The TranzAlpine soars over the 72m high Staircase Viaduct and through the 8.5km long Otira Tunnel, deep beneath the mountains of Arthur's Pass.
As you glide along the high plains of Cragieburn and Cass, you'll enjoy morning tea aboard the train.
Come early afternoon, you'll be stepping onto the platform in Greymouth feeling energised and ready for an afternoon exploring the stunning West Coast.
Day 2 Overview
Enjoy a relaxing breakfast at the hotel and then spend the morning exploring the lovely town of Franz Josef and the spectacular local walks.
In the early afternoon, if the weather is clear, it will be time for your elevated experience amidst the Southern Alps with a 20 minute Heli-Tour of the local glacier.
Finish the day by relaxing in town or at the hotel. Explore the local walking trails, or indulge in a spa treatment at the Amaia Spa at Te Waonui Forest Retreat.
Franz Josef Walks
Ranging from a 30-minute stroll amongst stunning natural bush to a 5-hour hike into the spectacular Southern Alps, the Franz Josef walking trails offer something for everyone—regardless of age or ability.
The shortest and easiest walk is the easy-grade 1.8km Terrace Walk that starts from the southern end of town. If you bring a torch, then you can explore this trail in the evening and discover glow worms along the track.
For a slightly longer and more intriguing walk, try the easy-grade 3.6km Tatare Tunnels Track, which explore the old tunnel systems from the gold-mining era. A torch is vital for exploring the tunnels, and waterproof shoes and jacket is also highly recommended.
Slightly longer again is the easy-grade 5.2km Callery Track which takes you through ancient rainforest and into the Callery Gorge, filled with natural splendour and historic intrigue.
If you have a pair of hiking shoes and want to explore the glacial valleys, then the intermediate-grade Robert's Point Track takes about five hours with suspension bridges, views of glaciers, rock walls, waterfalls and majestic mountain peaks to enjoy along the way.
Glacier Helicopter Tour
Ascend into the skies for an experience that most people will only ever see on TV.
Your afternoon activity is a heavenly twenty minute Heli-Tour of Franz Josef and Fox glacier. From the unique aerial perspective that can only be afforded by a helicopter, your pilot will talk you through the facets and features of New Zealand's famous glacier.
Descending and hovering low over these remarkable geological formations, you will get an intimate understanding of the glacial environment. You will even land on the glacier and walk upon the virgin snow, and breathe in the icy air.
It might take a while for the excitement and adrenaline to dissipate once you return to earth, but the feelings and memories you experience on this tour will remain with you forever.
Explore and Relax
Spend the afternoon settling back down to life on earth.
The quaint town of Franz Josef has plenty to offer if you are looking to relax, from boutique shops and cafés to hot tubs and spa treatments. For the ultimate relaxation, try booking a spa treatment at the Amaia Spa within Te Waonui Forest Retreat.
Alternatively, if you need to work off the morning's adrenaline, an abundance of nature walks, mountain hikes, and mountain bike trails are waiting to be explored.
Day 3 Overview
Start the day with a leisurely breakfast at the hotel before strolling into town in your own time.
Your morning activity is learning about the local wildlife at the West Coast Wildlife Centre, which specialises in breeding two of New Zealand's most endangered kiwi, the rowi and Haast tokoeka.
In the afternoon, you'll be heading to the Franz Josef cinema for a screening of the incredible Westland Wonderland film—an incredible 40-minute journey through South West New Zealand.
The evening is yours to relax and enjoy the hospitality of Franz Josef.
West Coast Wildlife Centre
The West Coast Wildlife Centre specialises in breeding and protecting rowi and Haast tokoeka kiwi, and this is your chance to meet one face to face in the nocturnal walk-through area.
You'll also find a fascinating glacier exhibition where you can learn all about the nooks and crevasses of the local formations and how they grow and shrink over time.
If you'd like to go behind the scenes and experience a close encounter with the kiwi, then book a VIP Guided Backstage Pass and go behind the scenes with one of the centre's Wildlife Rangers on a fully guided tour. Here you will learn about the history and successes of the Operation Nest Egg program that is working to save the rowi and Haast tokoeka kiwi - New Zealand's most endangered species.
The tour continues backstage in the Tuatara Encounter, where you'll have an intimate audience with a real life dinosaur. Descending from the order Sphenodontia, Tuatara have been walking the earth for 200 million years—and with all their relatives becoming extinct 60 million years ago, it has been a very lonely walk.
Screening in the Franz Josef cinema, the incredible Westland Wonderland HELIMAX movie is a 40-minute journey through the wildernesses of south-west New Zealand with a bird's-eye view of the outstanding scenery of the area.
Relive yesterday's soaring adventure while you discover the untouched haven of Open Bay Island off the coast of Haast and further to Cascade River on the border of Fiordland National Park.
Be inspired by this wonderful cinematic masterpiece highlighting the world-renowned UNESCO World Heritage Area that you are staying in.
Day 4 Overview
Enjoy a relaxing breakfast at the hotel before checking out and meeting your Scenic transfer at 10:30am.
By 12.30pm, your transfer will bring you back to Greymouth where you will check in for another wonderful journey aboard the TranzAlpine train on your way back to Christchurch.
TranzAlpine Greymouth to Christchurch train
The heavenly journey back through the Southern Alps aboard the TranzAlpine train is your perfect relaxing end to a wonderful few days exploring Franz Joseph and the West Coast.
Your journey begins alongside the Grey River, past Coal Creek, around stunning Lake Brunner, across the plains of Inchbonnie, through the Otira River valley, before ascending into the Southern Alps through the Otira Tunnel.
From Arthur's Pass, you'll descend into Canterbury along the braided Waimakariri River, past Cass and Cragieburn, before skirting along the steep banks of the Waimakariri Gorge.
Ease back in your seat and soak up the mountain views while enjoying afternoon tea, reflecting on the beautiful natural world around you and the engineering mastery of the generations who built this great railway through the heavens.
The spectacular five-hour journey to Christchurch will be over all too soon, but the memories of this great escape by rail will live on forever.
Your Franz Josef short break provides the perfect balance of must-see activities and free time to explore. The following activities are included:
Scenic Hotel Franz Josef
On the doorstep to several of New Zealand’s most spectacular natural attractions, the enchanting Scenic Hotel Franz Josef is the perfect resting place between adventures.
With modern, comfortable rooms, all the conveniences you could wish for, and the beautiful Canavans Restaurant and Moa Bar in the hotel, you won't want to leave this fantastic hotel.
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