Franz Josef / Waiau is a small town in the West Coast region of the South Island of New Zealand. Whataroa is 32 kilometres (20 mi) to the north-east, and the township of Fox Glacier is 23 kilometres (14 mi) to the south-west. State Highway 6 runs through the town. The Waiho River runs from the Franz Josef Glacier to the south, through the town, and into the Tasman Sea to the north-west.
The population was 330 in the 2006 Census, an increase of 9 from 2001.
The town is named after the Franz Josef Glacier – itself named by Julius von Haast in honour of the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I of Austria. Following the passage of the Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998, the name of the town was officially altered to Franz Josef / Waiau.
The glacier’s terminal face is 5 kilometres (3 mi) from the town and its accessibility makes it a major tourist attraction and the reason many people visit Franz Josef. The town is within the Westland Tai Poutini National Park.
Franz Josef offers many accommodation options for the up to 2,000 people staying overnight during the main season, ranging from hotels and motels to holiday houses, camping sites and backpacker accommodation. Other amenities include a petrol station, small but busy heliport and a number of restaurants and shops. The village is connected to the Franz Josef Glacier valley via walking tracks and a small sealed road leading into the valley from the highway just south of the village.
Franz Josef village is also home to the West Coast Wildlife Centre, developed in 2010 and dedicated to hatching and rearing the world’s two rarest species of kiwi, the rowi and Haast tokoeka. The centre offers bookings for behind the scenes tours of its kiwi hatching and rearing facilities.
Franz Josef Glacier School is a coeducational full primary (years 1-8) school with a decile rating of 9 and a roll of 19.
Franz Josef travel guide from Wikivoyage