WANAKA – FRANZ JOSEF (via Haast & Fox Glacier)
Travel distance is approximately 284kms (178 miles).
Allow at least 3.75 hours drive time (not including stops).
Your journey today will take you through some of New Zealand’s most scenic drives as you say farewell to Wanaka before travelling past Lake Hawea and it’s stunning shades of blue before entering the lush wilderness of Makaroa and the dramatic twists and turns as you navigate your way through the Haast Pass.
From waterfalls and rainforest to the Tasman Sea and towering glaciers, your self-drive trip today promises to showcase some of the best Mother Nature has to offer.
Some notable stops along the route to Franz Josef include:
Located on State Highway 6 on route to the Haast Pass, Makarora is a handy place to fuel up on route to Franz Josef. The Makarora River is located beside the township and offers great fishing, jet boating and kayaking.
Popular for its abundance of wildlife and native bush, outdoors enthusiasts can enjoy the vast array of habitats and ecosystems within the region. From the seashore to native bush, mountains, streams and wetlands, there is plenty on offer for bird and wildlife lovers.
Only 25 minutes drive North of Haast on the Glacier Highway, the area is adjacent to remote beaches that are home to seals and penguins. Kayaking on Lake Moeraki is popular due to the peaceful mirror lake.
Located by Lake Paringa, the Salmon Farm and Cafe is a great place for refreshing stop on your journey. View the salmon ponds in a beautiful native forest setting and enjoy fresh or smoked salmon dishes in the cafe.
WELCOME FLAT HOT POOLS
Located in Westland National Park, there are 4 pools of varying temperatures dug from a mud fan and boast one of the best views in the country due to the surrounding snow capped mountain peaks and native forest. The pools are a short walk from the DOC hut and campsite.
Only a 5 minute drive from Fox Glacier township, the lake is famous for its reflective lake that creates a mirror image of New Zealand’s highest peaks, Aoraki (Mt Cook) and Mt Tasman.
Enjoy a guided walk onto the internationally renowned Fox Glacier with an experienced glacier guiding company. Fox Glacier is New Zealand’s largest commercially guided glacier and is part of the Westland National Park which is a World Heritage Area. A range of guided walks is available to suit your time frame and fitness level, including half-day hikes and Heli Hikes.
Franz Josef is part of ‘Glacier Country’ which is the stretch of State Highway 6 from Whataroa (north of Franz Josef Glacier) to Bruce Bay and Lake Paringa (south of Fox Glacier) including the Glacier villages of Fox and Franz Josef and the coastal hamlet of Okarito. The Franz Josef Glacier village has a range of shops including a supermarket, book store, visitor information centre, souvenir shops and more.
There is a good range of restaurants and cafes in the Franz Josef village including the popular Blue Ice Restaurant & Bar for backpackers and travelling bus groups.
Accommodation is of good quality and variety in Franz Josef and offers a range of hotels, bed and breakfast lodges, motels, self contained accommodation, holiday parks and backpackers.
Highly recommended Franz Josef tourist attractions include…
Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk – This glacier valley walk takes approximately 80 minutes return and offers visitors a fabulous chance to experience a glacial environment within easy driving and walking distance from the main highway.
Glacier Country Lake Tours – Enjoy a scenic eco-cruise on Lake Mapourika as you view the untouched beauty that surrounds the largest lake in South Westland. Intimate, small groups ensure plenty of room at the viewing windows and covered outdoor platform as you check out the native flora, fauna and bird life.
White Heron Sanctuary Tours – The magnificent Kotuku (White Heron), the Kotuku Ngutu Papa (Royal Spoonbill) and the Kawapaka (Little Black Shag) can all be viewed in their natural environment whilst enjoying a tour to the White Heron Colony, a unique experience within itself.
Franz Josef Glacier – Considered the biggest gem of New Zealand’s West Coast, the Franz Josef Glacier descends deep into the lush rainforest of Westland’s National Park and is popular with visitors seeking a guided trek or heli hike on the worlds steepest and fastest flowing commercially guided glacier. A range of hikes is available to suit your budget, time frame and fitness level.
Franz Josef Glacier Heli-Hike – The ultimate glacier experience that combines an exhilarating scenic helicopter flight up the glacier where you and your experienced guide will be dropped off for a 2 hour glacier walk amidst pristine ice caves and magnificent views.
Hukawai Glacier Centre – If the weather doesn’t permit a walk on the glacier enjoy the next best thing! The modern glacier centre has the only indoor ice climbing wall in the Southern Hemisphere! Take a fascinating journey via a stimulating audio-visual exhibit as you learn more about the local flora, fauna, geology, glaciology, history and mythology.
New Zealand Itineraries: South Island Suggested Itineraries
Our modern self-drive travel Itineraries have routes specifically for the North Island as well as the South Island, ranging from 5 to 11 days, plus there are some travel routes that take in both the North and South Island’s. Our range of travel itineraries include information regarding travel distances and time to ensure that you can make the best of your time in New Zealand, no longer how short your visit!
- 5 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Greymouth, Greymouth – Fox Glacier, Franz Josef – Wanaka, Wanaka – Mt Cook and Mt Cook – Christchurch
- 5 Day Itinerary (route 2): Christchurch – Hanmer Springs, Hanmer Springs – St Arnuad, St Arnuad – Blenheim, Blenheim – Kaikoura and Kaikoura – Christchurch
- 5 Day Itinerary (route 3): Christchurch – Mt Cook, Mt Cook – Queenstown, Queenstown – Dunedin, Dunedin – Oamaru and Oamaru – Christchurch
- 7 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Dunedin, Dunedin – Invercargill, Invercargill – Stewart Island, Stewart Island – Te-anau, Te Anau – Milford Sound, Te Anau – Queenstown and Queenstown – Christchurch
- 8 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Greymouth, Greymouth – Fox Glacier, Fox Glacier – Wanaka, Wanaka – Queenstown, Queenstown – Te Anau, Te Anau – Dunedin and Dunedin – Christchurch
- 9 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Dunedin, Dunedin, Dunedin – Invercragill, Invercargill – Te Anau, Te Anau Milford Sound, Te Anau – Queenstown, Queenstown – Mt Cook, Mt Cook – Lake Tekapo and Lake Tekapo – Christchurch
- 9 Day Itinerary (route 2): Christchurch – Omarama, Omarama – Dunedin, Dunedin, Dunedin – Te Anau, Te Anau – Milford Sound, Te Anau – Queenstown, Queenstown – Haast, Haast – Greymouth and Greymouth – Christchurch
- 9 Day Itinerary (route 3): Christchurch – Hanmer Springs, Hanmer Springs – Greymouth, Greymouth – Nelson, Nelson – Takaka, Takaka – Motueka, Motueka – Nelson, Nelson – Blenheim, Blenheim – Kaikoura and Kaikoura – Christchurch
- 11 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Dunedin, Dunedin – Te Anau, Te Anau – Milford Sound, Milford Sound – Queenstown, Queenstown – Wanaka, Wanaka – Franz Josef, Franz Josef – Greymouth, Greymouth – Nelson, Nelson – Blenheim, Blenheim – Kaikoura and Kaikoura – Christchurch