Jody Direen is a Tui Award winning International Recording Artist.
Originally from Wanaka, she shares why she chooses to call Franz Josef Glacier home.
There is more than meets the eye in Franz Josef Glacier! Franz Josef is the little-big village I’m proud to call home after 10 years of being on the road (and in the sky) touring New Zealand, Australia and the USA. I say ‘little-big’ because the town itself is relatively small, but it has a big heart. A big heart that lives through the collective of creative, hard-working individuals that make up the community and experiences. There’s a big travel and food culture – and an even bigger adventure backyard!
As a lover of adventure, I explored Franz Josef three years ago whilst toying with the decision of where to build my first home. I fell in love and likened it to a mini-Queenstown! The dramatic towering Southern Alps imposed a wild, untouched and isolated awareness, which gave me a desirable yet surreal feeling that I found positively addictive and exciting.
The atmosphere was humming – as were the helicopters!
I had amazing coffee, craft beer, burgers and Asian cuisine from Snake Bite. Hiked to the top of Alex Knob, camped out, watched the mind-blowing sunset over the ocean and woke up to 5-star views over the Franz Josef Glacier. Followed by a soak in the Glacier Hot Tubs, then indulged in a world class massage at Spa Escape. If you’re looking for a night out, you can have the best night at Monsoon Bar with live music and DJ’s. A night-cap at the Blue Ice Bar goes down a treat and they’ve even got a stretch-limousine-hummer courtesy coach with champagne bar! It literally blew my mind!
Activities and Walks in Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Josef has adventure options for everyone (self-guided and guided) for beginners to extremists. It’s unique in that you can access the ocean, lagoons, rivers, lakes, rainforest, mountains and glaciers – all within close proximity.
If you are an active person, daily runs are essential and Franz Josef Glacier has tracks on tap:
- Lake Wombat – A peaceful lake, nestled amongst the rainforest.
- Douglas Loop – via Peters Pool boasting amazing mirror reflections,
- Callery Gorge – the bluest glacial water, lined by sheer moss-covered rocks with access to glow worm tunnels!
- Canavans Knob – a Glacier river bed stock bank with a short hill climb at the end – you’re rewarded by views of the Franz Josef Glacier Valley!
- Okarito Trig Point – views of Mount Cook and the Southern Alps from the Coast.
- Okarito Lagoon Loop – spot seals and dolphins as you walk back along the sandy beach.
- Roberts Point is a personal favourite, encompassing the second largest swing bridge in New Zealand with the closest view of the glacier available on foot (unless you’re a hard core ice climber).
Go find the water!
Your experience is not complete without a kayak, SUP or sunset fishing cruise onboard with Franz Josef Wilderness Tours! Afloat our local body of water Lake Mapourika. One thing people don’t know is how warm our lake is (its not fed by glacial water) and it’s beautiful rain or shine.
Get your ocean fix with a drive to Okarito. Surf, fish, hike, toast marshmallows over a bonfire and catch an exceptional sunset. There is an array of Heli-adventures available; an overnight trip to Almer Hut overlooking the glacier is unforgettable. The Heli-hike is phenomenal and any scenic flight is worth it.
Franz Josef offers the ultimate in lifestyle and vacation. Its a place that offers peace and tranquility when you need rest and the perfect playground when you need a dose of adventure.