FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER (Waiau) is the slightly larger of the two glacier villages. The glacier almost reaches the fringes of the village, the Southern Alps tower above and developers have done what they can to create an alpine character with steeply pitched roofs and pine panelling. It’s an appealing place, and small enough to make you feel almost like a local if you stay for more than a night or two – something that’s easily done, considering the number of fine walks and the proximity of the glaciers.
In Franz Josef you can hike to the glacier, join a guided walk on the glacier, kayak on a nearby lake or take a scenic flight. Guided glacier walks and kayaking take place in most weather conditions, but on misty and very wet days you’ll find that scenic flights and heli-hikes are cancelled and alternatives limited.