It may be time for cooler weather and falling leaves in United States destinations like Vermont, but spring is on the way in New Zealand. Why not plan a trip to explore Franz Josef Glacier and its neighbor, Fox Glacier, before the summer crowds arrive? For accommodations in a peaceful setting, yet only five minutes away from the action at the village of Franz Josef, book a stay with Franz Josef Glacier Country Retreat.
My husband and I discovered the 12-room country inn on a road trip along the South Island of New Zealand’s west coast. Situated on 200 acres of farmland overlooking Lake Mapourika, Franz Josef Glacier Country Retreat is just a short drive to New Zealand’s most accessible glaciers — Franz Josef and Fox Glacier — not to mention world class hiking and fishing.
While Franz Josef Glacier Country Retreat is considered luxury lodging, according to New Zealand standards, most of the ultra-clean rooms are on the small side with bathrooms that have showers but no tubs. But oh those heated towel racks! I wish more U.S. hotels offered them. After a long day of exploring that included a hike at Lake Matheson, I longed for a good, hot soak. So, we upgraded to the John Schilling room because it came with – a jacuzzi tub.
All of the rooms access a veranda with mountain or lake views, perfect for relaxing after a day on the glaciers. You might even hear cows mooing as this is a working farm, and pioneer homestead, that’s been in owner Marie Coburn’s family for over 100 years.
The room rate includes a hot breakfast, but a package may also be arranged for breakfast and dinner. Don’t miss it. The opportunity to socialize with an international roster of guests in the large lounge gave flavor to our trip. As I sipped on a glass of crisp, New Zealand sauvignon blanc, I learned about life in Switzerland, England, Holland and Canada.
Dinner at Mapourika Restaurant, located on the premises and also open to the public, included prawn salad, with entree choices of venison, lamb, beef or the fish of the day. After a dessert of strawberry creme brulé, we returned to the lounge to discuss our New Zealand adventures over coffee or brandy.
If you’re looking for more adventure in this corner of New Zealand, the inn maintains an activity list at their website. Or, the staff will help make suggestions as well as arrangements.
If you go:
Franz Josef Glacier Country Retreat
State Highway 6
Franz Josef Glacier 7952 West Coast, South Island
Photos courtesy Donna L. Hull
Review by Donna L. Hull, My Itchy Travel Feet, The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Travel