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Our Story

The story behind the team at Franz Josef Wilderness Tours


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.


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 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.


  • Includes FREE high quality digital photographs taken by your kayak tour guide. 
  • Discover the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary up close on our private custom-built trail.
  • Hike with our nature guides – all to the sound of native birdsong! 
  • Read what other’s have to say about our Top-Rated Kayak Adventures


NZ $165 Adult
NZ $105 Child (17 years & under)


Allow 4 hours


Hot drinks provided.


Operating in the South Westland UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Westland Tai Poutini National Park comes with responsibility.  A responsibility to care for our local environment and the planet.  Sustainability is a core part of what we do and we’re proud to have achieved Carbon Zero status through working with Ekos New Zealand to identify and reduce our carbon emission.  What we couldn’t reduce we have offset and we’re proud of how far we’ve come. 

A portion of all our tours is returned to the Department of Conservation for further restoration and care for New Zealand, and we’re partners with the Zero Invasive Predators initiative in the region.

To view our full sustainability mission, and learn more about our initiatives please visit:


Absolutely brillliant! Great fun, well looked after, everyone from the office to the guide was lovely and helpful. We had a hoot!

Perth, Australia

We loved every minute of this well organised kayak on the lake. The guide was knowledgeable, friendly and professional. Excellent views and reflections of the mountains and the flora in the lakes. We even had a closeup visit to a white heron. Highly recommended!

Simi, New York, USA

I cannot recommend this enough! I’ve now done it twice in 3 years and both times it was spectacular, both in terms of scenery and overall experience. Our guide was fun and knowledgeable and was taking candid snaps all throughout the trip that we had access to later on. I highly recommend the morning trip, as that’s when the water is like glass and it feels so serene gliding over it. It truly is one of the best experiences in Franz Josef.

Hourikhat, Sydney, Australia


We want you to be confident when you book directly with us! We provide hassle-free full refunds without any penalties.  We do ask that any cancellations and changes are made a full 24 hours prior to the trip time. Cancellations made within the 24 hour time frame cannot be refunded (for any reason including medical or other) so please let us know in time if you need to change, or cancel your booking!  Good travel insurance will cover last minute scenarios you might encounter that affect your bookings.  Private/Group bookings or charters incur a 48 hour cancellation policy.

We reserve the right to cancel tours if minimum numbers are not met or in the event of unsafe conditions, in which case full refunds are issued.

We're here to help, so feel free to drop us an email if you have any questions.