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Journey From Westport – Franz Joesf is 273km from Westport. We left Westport at 9am and got to Feanz Joesf in the early evening. We stopped three times on route. The, first time was a 5 minute stop at Irimahuwhero lookout, second time was to see the Pancake Rocks and third time was a 20 minute stop where we got to see jewelry being made.
Food and Drink – On the first night most of us paid for the unlimited pizza buffet which the hostel (Rainforest Retreat Franz Joesf Hostel) put on. The meal was excellent value for money.
On the second night people cooked, on there own or as part of a small group.
Accommodation – Most people in the group stayed at Rainforest Retreat Franz Joesf Hotel. For $26 you got a six bed room and use of the jacuzzis.
In Franz Joesf there are multiple places you can stay. Like Wellington, my main priority was staying with the Stray group hence why I opted to stay at Rainforest Retreat Franz Joesf Hotel, which was the default option.
There are some free hikes you can do in this area. Although due to the nature of the terrain, Stray advises people to go on a guided tour.
Ice Explorer (Paid)
The most popular activity among our group was Ice Explorer. This involved a short but highly memorable helicopter ride onto the glacier and then a 3 hour walk on the glacier.
We were provided with coats, shoes, socks, crampons (metal spikes for the shoes) and a hat.
If you booked through Stray it cost $320. I had previously booked the activity with Peterpans who had got me the same price. In bad weather conditions the helicopters cannot fly thus all the tours except for the valley walk are cancelled on that day. Had my tour been cancelled Peterpans would have only given me a 90% refund. If you book with Stray you only pay if the helicopters are definitely flying.