Exploring Franz Josef and Saving Money with GO Rentals
This month’s blog has been written by our friends at GO Rentals. Check out the great deals you can get through them when you visit Franz, and see what some of their fans think about our little piece of the world...
Franz Josef is one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations and for good reason. Famous for the glacier that dominates the backdrop to the township, there is so much more to Franz Josef than exploring the ice. From skydiving to tranquil lakes, it’s worth spending a few days exploring the area rather than taking a whistle stop tour.
If you’re planning a visit to the area and want to save some money, make sure you look at renting a car with GO Rentals. Franz Josef Glacier Guides are one of the many partners in the awesome GO Play programme which offers discounts to travellers at over 100 of New Zealand’s best attractions. Right here in Franz, you can save money on a guided glacier experience or at the Glacier Hot Pools which is a great place to start. There’s also discounts on Skydive Franz and Fox Franz Heliservices so just heading to Franz can save you some serious cash!
You can pick up in Christchurch or Queenstown which are both within reach of Franz Josef (5 hours from Christchurch and 4 hours 45 mins from Queenstown) and the road trip to Franz from either of these locations is truly spectacular. If you are planning a road trip around New Zealand, make sure you check out the GO Explore New Zealand Facebook page for road tripping inspiration within our beautiful country. From over 365,000 followers, there are loads of great tips for places to visit and things to do on your New Zealand adventure.
Here are some of the comments from a recent post about Franz Josef ( for most people it was all about the glacier experience):
“I’ve done that; it’s was one of the best things I have ever done” – Jacq Oakham-McKay, UK
“This is an awesome experience. The sound of the ice moving/cracking was incredible! Loved it.” – Rebecca Stedman Brown, NZ
“Amazing but knackering. Damn near killed me. Lol!” – Gemma Howle, UK
“It's the experience of a lifetime.” – Ali Bulbul, NZ
“Been there. It is beautiful...” – Jacqueline Dollar, USA
GO Explore fans from the UK, Rob and Sarah, also recently visited Franz Josef and spent four ‘amazing’ days exploring. Here’s a little bit of what they got up to:
Day 1 – Arthur’s Pass
We picked up our rental car from GO over in Christchurch and after a couple of days exploring, it was time to hit the road. We decided to take Arthur’s Pass over to the West Coast. We heard it was an amazing drive and we weren’t disappointed. From the vastness of the Canterbury Plains emerged the Southern Alps and up and over we went. We spent a couple of hours at the top exploring Arthur’s Pass village and a couple of nice little walks, watching the train make its way over the top. Then it was all downhill to the West Coast and a pit stop in Greymouth where we detoured to check out the Punakaiki Rocks.
Day 2 – Lake Matheson
We headed down the coast towards Franz Josef and to be honest we were pretty excited. We had seen so many photos of the glacier and the blue ice and it looked so cool (pun intended!). We passed through Hokitika which was a pretty quirky place before heading on down to Franz. We arrived mid-afternoon and decided to head out to Lake Matheson (about half an hour from Franz). We got there at the perfect time on a perfect blue sky day and it was amazing! This is a must do for anyone visiting Franz Josef and it was truly spectacular. This was our first real glimpse of the glacier and the impressive Mt Cook and it was pretty awe-inspiring. We stayed there for a few hours, just checking out the changing light before heading back to Franz to get our Glacier experience sorted.
Day 3 – Exploring the Glacier
This was the day we had been waiting for! We booked on to the Glacier Heli-Hike experience and were relieved to wake up to another beautiful day with very little wind and no clouds – yay! We were pretty excited to be taking a helicopter flight up to the glacier as this was something new to us so after picking up all our gear including some awesome thick socks, we jumped in and took the flight up over the glacier which was truly spectacular! Once we touched down, the real fun began. We had an awesome guide who was keen to show us as much as he could and we certainly made the most of our 3 hours up on the ice. We discovered new ice caves, carved out steps, and were just blown away by the towering peaks and spectacular blue ice. We were told that this would be a once in a lifetime experience and it definitely lived up to the expectation and more. Like everything, our only wish is that we could have spent more time up there but this was definitely one of the highlights of our trip to New Zealand and we’re so glad we did it!
Once we made our way back down to the township we took advantage of our free entry to the Glacier Hot Pools which was part of our Heli-Hike experience. This was the perfect way to end a perfect day as we soaked in the hot pools surrounded by the lush rainforest looking out towards the Southern Alps. What. A. Day.
Day 4 – Skydive Franz Josef
We were pretty inspired by our trip in the helicopter the day before and the amazing views and with a day to spare in Franz Josef, we decided to take the plunge and book onto a Skydive trip. We had already done a skydive in Taupo which was pretty amazing but having seen the views the day before from a helicopter, we decided that this was THE place to give it another try. It was pretty cool that we could use our GO Play card to score another discount at Skydive Franz after using it the day before at Franz Josef Glacier Guides so that helped!
To be honest, with the discount or not, this was another of those amazing, once in a lifetime experiences that we will look back on for years. It is hard to imagine a more beautiful place in the world to skydive. The plane took us up to 19,000ft (which is also the highest in New Zealand!) and the views were unbelievable! It didn’t matter where you looked – Mt Cook in one direction, glaciers below and the Tasman Sea away in the distance. The skydive itself was really amazing. Cold but amazing! Once the thrill of the freefall was over, we just glided so peacefully over this beautiful landscape and had the time to soak it all in. Back to back days that we will never forget.
Heading back to the township after the dive, we were absolutely buzzing. This was our last day in Franz before we headed down the West Coast and on to Wanaka and Queenstown but this place left a lasting impression and we hope to come back one day and do it all again!
Hopefully this inspires you to add Franz Josef to your New Zealand itinerary. While the glacier is undoubtedly the star of the show, there is so much more to the town that everyone who visits leaves with their own memories and experiences.