Skydive Franz Josef…MUST or BUST?

Skydive Franz Josef 

SPOILER ALERT: The 19,000 foot Franz Josef Skydive is an ABSOLUTE MUST!!!!

In a recent post about Hiring a Travel Guide, I mentioned Kari and I only hire guides at certain times to try and save money for big ticket experiences. The 18,000 foot Franz Josef Skydive in Franz Josef, New Zealand was one of our biggest tickets to date. However, it was an experience worth every single cent! What’s even better is ,now the highest jump goes from 19,000 feet! It’s the highest commercial jump in NZ!

Why is it better to Skydive Franz Josef than anywhere else?

Skydiving in Franz Josef, in our opinion, has to be the most beautiful place on Planet Earth. Not to mention, one of the prettiest places to jump out of a place.  Franz Josef, New Zealand is located midway down the west facing coast of New Zealand’s South Island. The little outdoor adventure town of Franz Josef is set just miles from the coast of the Tasman Sea and borders Westland Tai Poutinin National Park. The area is rife with glaciers. The two most epic being, the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers.

The Mountains and Surrounds

If you head west past the glaciers, up to the top of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, you’ll hit Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park. Aoraki, in Maori or Mt. Cook in English, is New Zealand’s highest peak at 12, 218 feet (3,724 meters) above sea level. Mt. Cook NP ground surface is 40% covered by glaciers. Some epic ice climbing and trekking takes place in both of these national parks. For kicks, the real life Isengard location from Lord of the Rings is to the south in Mt. Aspiring National Park.

Kea bird on Gillespies Beach. Skydive Franz Josef
Kea bird on Gillespies Beach

We camped out probably one of the coolest campgrounds in NZ at Gillespies Beach Campground. The west of town camping area is primitive but pristine. It’s down a long dirt road off the main highway and well worth the scenic drive. The campground is cheap and away from the crowds. It’s an awesome place to spend the night listening to the waves crash and looking at the stars. You may even get lucky like we did and get a visit from Kea, an amazing bird native to New Zealand.

What I’m telling you is this area is pretty damned beautiful. One of the prettiest places I have ever been. With coast on one side and epic LOTR landscapes on the other, it doesn’t get more picturesque than Franz Josef. If you’re visiting the South Island, do not skip this gorgeous area.

Imagine you could get a view off all this beauty in a single eyeful? It can be done. It just take a 25 minute plane ride to 19,000 feet.

Planning Your Jump

So, you wanted to take in all the scenery at once…you took the plane ride. You could go back down in the plane OR, have the most exhilarating experience of your life…JUMP!!!

With a seasoned skydive pro strapped to your back and photographer just below you, you’ll leave the plane to unparalleled views of nature. If jumping out of the plane doesn’t take your breath away, the views will.

The crew at Skydive Franz were great. If you want to jump, you should book in advance. While there’s plenty to do in the area, if you’re going to head out there, you might as well have things in order. There are currently 3 jump heights, 13,000 feet (45+ seconds of freefall), 16,000 feet (60+ seconds of freefall), or the highest commercial skydive in New Zealand, 19,000 feet (75+ seconds of freefall). Jumping out of a plane is pretty amazing, expensive and if you’re going to do it, we recommend going for the highest!

Skydive Franz Josef
Lookin’ #sweet #stoked

Once you’ve chosen your jump, book it via phone or online. Yet, it should be noted, while you can have a jumped booked, the weather can throw a wrench into things. Weather conditions should be good for the plane to go up in the air. When we jumped, the plane was grounded on another part of the island after having repairs done. It couldn’t fly back to Franz Josef because weather conditions weren’t optimal. No jumpers went out the few days before our jump.

Day of the Your Franz Josef Skydive

When you’re booked and conditions permitting, the day of your jump will go something like this:

Step 1

*Early morning you’ll turn up at the Skydive Franz Josef office. You’ll sign your life away on a liability waiver. You’ll also have the chance to upgrade your photo of video package of your jump if you’re not already maxed out. I’m going to recommend that you go for the full complement of media they offer. I have no stake in writing this and we don’t get paid for selling you this. We just think of the how awesome it is to look back at those pictures of us falling through the sky surrounded by NZ’s epic nature. I should probably mention that the video is pretty cheesy, but it’s still awesome footage. You’re already in for heap of $$$ at this point. You might as well make sure you capture all of this once in a lifetime experience.

Skydive Franz Josef
Completely different emotions…


Step 2

*Next you’re going to meet your jump instructor and receive a quick safety briefing. Once briefed you suit up in a jumpsuit, harness and helmet. The helmet might seem silly, but it’s more to keep your head warm. Because at 19,000 feet, it’s cold. Once you’re in your jumpsuit, the fun begins. The crew starts snapping pics and interviewing you for the cameras. All the while, they’re getting you pumped up for your jump.

Step 3

*Once you’re in the plane, it’s all downhill from there. Well, actually it’s more/less straight down. But, all that after about 25-30 minute plane ride up the jump elevation. The scenery during the flight is worth the price alone. Mountains, glaciers, beaches, oceans and more blue sky that you’ve ever seen is just outside the window. Once at elevation, the door opens. At that time, the photographer, you and your instructor will position yourself at the edge with nothing but sky, clouds and earth below you. You’ve reached the moment of truth. Nothing can match the feeling of clinging to the edge of the plane in those seconds before the jump.

Except maybe the release you feel during the 75 seconds of free fall.

Skydive Franz Josef
That feeling of “OH SH💩 T!!!!!!”
Step 4

*Once the shoot opens, quite possibly the most amazing scenery lays out in front of you like a 360 degree painting. It’s glorious. The ride to the ground is a bit nerve wracking, but your chute is piloted by your expert instructor. They’ll bring you down for a smooth landing where they get the camera back on you to capture the adrenaline that will no doubt be pumping through your veins. Unless you’re Kari who was cool as cucumber before, during and after her dive. She’s got nerves of steel. To see how cool & calm she was check the video below!

To see what an absolute spaz looks like jumping out of plane, follow the link here to see my jump for 18K feet!

Stop Thinking About It and Just Jump!


In conclusion…MUST, MUST and more MUST!!!!!

Therefore, if you are in new Zealand or planning to go, make sure you make time to skydive Franz Josef. It’s an experience that’s unparalleled. You can skydive many places in the world. You can jump over beaches, over farm land, and none…I guarantee, can match the beauty of jump in Franz Josef.

Skydive Franz Josef
Sweet, sweet earth under our feet

If you’re ready to book your jump, head over to and lock it in today.

Would you Skydive Franz Josef? Have you done the Franz Josef Skydive? Perhaps you’ve jumped in a place you think that is more beautiful than Franz Josef? Share your skydive story in the comments below.

If you’re not camping like us and looking for lodging in the Franz Josef area, check out your best budget options on

***Disclaimer: The links to the accommodations in this post are affiliate links. That means if you complete a booking through these links, we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Being an affiliate is a great way to spread the word about awesome places and things we experience when we travel. As a result of the affiliate program, you can help support Travelin’ Stiles. Rest assured that we would not recommend something to you that we have not used or think would be of value to you, our readers.***

**In Regards to Skydive Franz, we do not make any money from the links included here. We just had a rad time and think you should pay them a visit for a rad time of your own.**

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