Franz Josef Walking Tracks
Walking tracks in the Franz Josef area

Terrace Walk - 30 Minutes return

The Terrace walk leads you through a flat section of Wild West Coast podocarp forest before you start a gradual ascent up a line of gold mining tailings. You will be able to see the remains of flumes and water pipes just before the small wooden bridge that crosses a creek.

Head down towards the Waiho River where you will get an excellent view of the forested banks of the Franz Josef Glacier Valley. The Waiho or Waiau River was originally a steep gorge.

Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk - 1 hour 20 minutes return

The track to the first viewpoint is wide and carefully graded. It is known as the Forest Walk and starts at the car park about fifty meters from the public toilet. When you reach the Forest Walk Viewpoint take some time to read the informative interpretation boards on glaciology and the history of the area. You can also catch your first glimpse of the Franz Josef Glacier and begin to understand the enormity of the glacier itself.

From this point, the blue ice looks like polished marble. You can begin to see the crevasses where the dynamic flow of ice has literally been ripped apart. The precipitous rock walls that flank the glacier are over one kilometre high and create an optical illusion that the terminal face is not very high.

Beyond this point follow the trail up the Waiho riverbed. The first significant waterfall is called Trident Falls and is an excellent photographic opportunity. Further up the valley, Split Apple rock lies on the valley floor near Champness Rock. If you look up to your right, you can see the original location of this schist boulder high on the cliff face.

At the last set of barriers the terminal face of the glacier seems monstrous, and you can not help but feel a sense of insignificance. The fact that this point is less than 300 metres above sea level and is one of three glaciers in the world this close to the coastline is remarkable on a world scale. The glacier is unstable and constantly changing, especially during wet weather. You must stay behind the barriers and observe safety signs at all times.

Tatare Tunnels Glow worm Walk - 1 hour 20 minutes return walk from The Terrace

This walk is ideal for couples or families as for most of the time you can follow a wide path that allows people to walk 2-4 persons wide.

This walk leaves 50 metres from The Terrace Motel and once dark allows guests to view glow worms for free within a 2-3 minute walk from the motel. If you are keen and walk as far as the tunnels you will get even more specular views of the glowworms but this is not needed if you just want an evening walk after a meal in one of the many local restaurants as the glow worms start as soon as you enter the forest.

The walk follows an old road that once led to the "Tatare Gorge Hydroelectric Power Station." Walk past the junction with the Callery Walk and continue climbing until you drop down into the Tatare Gorge. You can look straight up the Tatare Gorge from here into the untouched wilderness.

The track narrows and begins to climb steeply. It follows a series of zigzags before traversing along the Gorge to the start of the tunnel system. Once you have explored the tunnels go back the way you came to Cowan Street.

Sentinel Rock Walk - 20 minutes return

Sentinel Rock is a roche moutonnée or 'rock sheep', a block of schist shaped like a tear drop that was strong enough to withstand the relentless pressure of the glacier. The trail zig zags steadily through the regenerating bush to the viewing platform where you can see rata and kamahi trees surrounded by a carpet of moss and lichen on the bedrock.

If you look to the Fritz Range on your right Mt Roon which is 2233 metres and Bismarck Peak 2545 metres are easily identified on a clear day.

Canavam's Knob walk - 1 hour return

The glacier carved away the rest of the land surrounding this knob of granite and it is a small remnant of a world much older than the greywacke and schist rocks found in the Southern Alps and across the Alpine Faultline.

The track is fringed by a lush undergrowth of ferns, herbs and orchids as well as large kamahi and rimu trees which are wrapped in supplejack vines and epiphytes such as kiekie. There is a park bench at the first viewpoint which looks south across farmland down the Waiho River and out to the Tasman Sea.

The second viewpoint at the top of the track has another conveniently located park bench and a spectacular visita of the Waiho River, the Franz Josef Glacier and the Main Divide. With the one kilometre high rock faces flanking the Franz Josef Glacier you really get a sense of the enormity of the Southern Alps. After a collapse of the ice cave at the Franz Josef Glacier terminal face it is not uncommon to see large chunks of ice in the Waiho Riverbed and the start of the track, demonstrating the dynamic power of glacial ice.

Alex Knob Track - 6 hours return - fantastic views

The endless zig zags lead you through podocarp hardwood rainforest to sub alpine tussock past Rata and Christmas Lookouts before reaching the summit ridge. You turn into a small valley, and the ridge levels out on the final stage of your uphill journey. Here, you will pass Louisa's Peak which was named after Lousia Woodham, Alec's wife.

From the Alex Knob viewpoint, you will be rewarded for your uphill grind with a bird's eye view of the Franz Josef Glacier, the Main Divide and Tasman Sea. If you want a photograph of a bluebird cloudless sky it is worth starting early. The clouds tend to accumulate after midday even on a fine day.

Callery Gorge Walk - 1 hour 20 minutes return walk from The Terrace

This walk is ideal for couples or families as for most of the time you can follow a wide path that allows people to walk 2-4 persons wide.

This walk leaves 50 metres from The Terrace Motel and gives guests a chance to enjoy the rainforest and great photo opportunities from two bridges before returning to the Village.