Franz Josef is famous for its glacier, first explored in 1865 by geologist Julius von Haast. Haast named it after the Austrian emperor, and the town itself exists mainly to serve visitors to this natural attraction. Not too far away is Fox Glacier and Mount Cook and both are easily reachable from here.
One of the best ways to view the glacier is from above and a helicopter ride is a perfect way to view the rugged West Coast hemmed between the Tasman Sea and the imposing Southern Alps, making for spectacular contrasts in the surrounding scenery.
To get up close and personal with the glacier and to understand how the glacier was created, how it has evolved over time as well as learn the local legends we recommend a 3 hour guided glacier walk.