Our Story

OUR STORY

Franz Josef wilderness Tours is a locally owned and operated family run business on the South Island’s West Coast.  Customer service excellence, and delivering a quality experience is at the heart of each tour. Bronwyn and Dale built Franz Josef wilderness Tours (formerly Glacier Country Kayaks & Glacier Country Lake Tours) up to the well- recognized business it is today!

Bronwyn, originally from Canada, has been kayaking for many years including multi-week trips around Vancouver Island. Dale has been an outdoor guide for over 15 years with 6 years spent as a Glacier Guide for the Franz Josef Glacier Guides, and a few seasons spent kayak guiding in Canada. Dale has spent his life as an outdoorsman in New Zealand, and is a qualified Maritime NZ Skipper. He is one of our lead guides and you might find him paddling, fishing or cruising on the water most days.

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While guiding in Canada over a summer period in 2008, Bronwyn paddled into Dale. Bronwyn and Dale continued guiding in Canada and Stewart Island NZ, before taking over Glacier Country Kayaks in 2013 and Glacier Country Lake Tours in 2015.  Recently, in November they brought their kayak & boating operations together to now be Franz Josef Wilderness Tours.

Franz Josef Wilderness Tours is teamed with an awesome crew from a range of backgrounds who have a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Come explore this amazing part of the Westland Tai Poutini National Park with us. We can’t wait to show you our slice of paradise…

Safety

At Franz Josef Wilderness Tours safety is our top priority – its integrated into every part of our organization!  Our Kayak and Paddleboard tours are safety audited by Qualworx and hold the highly recognized OutdoorsMark endorsement.  This ensures that only the highest standards of safety are implemented throughout the business, you know you’re in good hands. Our boat tours are full MOSS accredited and adhere to all of Maritime NZ regulations.

We proudly hold the Qualmark Silver endorsement which represents a high level of quality, service and environmental sustainability.  Sustainable Tourism is at the core of what we do.  We operate within a beautiful National Park and UNESCO world heritage site, it’s our duty to look after our playground. 

SUSTAINABILITY

We care for our natural environment and our passion for sustainability is encorporated into all our tours. Lake Mapourika is situated in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park and is also part of TeWāhipounamu South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.  The rarest Kiwi on the planet – the Rowi – takes it’s home in the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary at the back side of Lake Mapourika.  We assist with predator trapping on our Rainforest Trail, and we have a duty to leave as little impact on the region possible.

Being the only approved commercial business operator on Lake Mapourika, part of the fee for our tours goes back to the Department of Conservation.   We also assist the team at ZIP (Zero Invasive Predators) in gaining access to the far shoreline of Lake Mapourika in their efforts to eliminate predators in our region.

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