Franz Josef Trail
Bush, Rugged Coastline, Gold, Untamed Rivers and Glaciers
The Franz Josef Trail is a four-day fully guided walking tour in the spectacular Te Wahipounamu South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.
You will experience a number of unique walks that incorporate the dramatic ice formations of Franz Josef and Fox glaciers, historical gold trails, wondrous coastal beaches, captivating lakes and luxuriant West Coast rainforests.
Day 1: Hokitika to Franz Josef
The Franz Josef Trail departs from Hokitika on a short scenic drive to Ross where you begin four days of unforgettable guided walks on the trail.
Ross is a small West Coast town where New Zealand's largest gold nugget, "The Honourable Roddy" was found. Your guide will take you on an expedition along the Water Race Walkway, which is an historic gold trail that winds its way up the hill behind the township. Stride through the regenerating bush and pass a network of water races that supplied water to the sluicing operations of the Ross Goldfields. There will be an opportunity to pan for gold here. You will walk past old miners huts and dams, and through the rainforest clad hills between the Totara and Mikonui Rivers.
Enjoy a picnic lunch before starting the Hari Hari Coastal Walk. Following the old packhorse tracks alongside the Wanganui River you will experience a mixture of bush and beach walking. Be on the lookout for seals heading off into the surf before you make your way into the lush rainforest via one of the many bridges along the track.
Tonight you will enjoy an evening meal in the interesting alpine village of Franz Josef, nestled at the foot of the Southern Alps.
Day 2: Franz Josef - Franz Josef
On Day 2 of the Franz Josef Trail you depart on foot from the centre of Franz Josef township, your guide will lead the group up to a high terrace behind the village on the Callery-Waiho Walk. The track passes old sluice pipes, which are still used to provide the town water supply. You will walk alongside an old goldmining water-race before descending to the Callery Gorge Bridge.
At Douglas Bridge you will take a look at some interesting plant life within the 40-year old shrub forest on the Douglas Walkway. Next stop along the way is Peters Pool, a kettle lake formed by melting ice in 1800AD. The track climbs onto ancient glacial moraine where your guide unfolds some fascinating natural history on how the glacial landform developed from 1600AD to 1750AD. Spectacular views of the glaciers can be appreciated from here, which makes it the perfect spot to take a break and munch on some lunch.
From this point you begin the Franz Josef Glacier Walk, following a rocky path over the riverbed and along the track that will take you close to the ice. You will be kept busy with boulder hopping, scenic waterfalls and a few small stream crossings.
Enjoy another night in Franz Josef village and a great meal with your group.
Day 3: Franz Josef - Okarito - Fox Glacier
This morning's walk will start in Okarito, a small coastal settlement surrounded by the panorama of ocean, tidal estuary, sea cliffs, lush forest and unsurpassed views of the Southern Alps.
Take a few minutes out to spot some distinctive West Coast beach pebbles as you walk along the foreshore amongst the rocks. At the bridge on a clear day you can see the awe-inspiring mighty Mount Cook and surrounding Southern Alps.
Indulge in amazing panoramic views of the Westland National Park coastline before your guide leads you along the inland route, and then over the Kohuamarua Bluff. This is a great spot to meander through towering rimu, rata and silver pine forest, before dropping down to a quiet sheltered lagoon.
After lunch you can take a peek inside the hut on the old jetty at Okarito. Here you can view old photos of the area and there is a storyboard illustrating the history of Okarito. This afternoon you will then view the dramatic ice on the Fox Glacier Walk. After inspecting ice in the river and enjoying the boulder hopping, you view the striking terminal ice face, which is a spectacular experience.
With a very unique and diverse day of walking under your belt you overnight in the town of Fox Glacier and enjoy restaurant dining with fantastic views of the area.
Day 4: Lake Matheson - Hokitika - Christchurch
Today is the final day of the Franz Josef Trail, before breakfast, you will take in truly stunning vistas on the Lake Matheson Walk. Your group will stroll along a very pleasant track with plenty of viewing platforms for capturing the famous mirror images of Mount Cook, Tasman and La Perous from different angles.
The lake is nestled in ancient forest in the Te Wahipounamu South-West New Zealand World Heritage Area, which includes the Westland Tai Pountini National Park. The lake was formed over 14,000 years ago when the Fox Glacier retreated from its last major advance towards the sea and left a depression which later filled with water.
After your walk around Lake Matheson you will enjoy a hearty and much deserved breakfast before setting off back to Hokitika. The Franz Josef Trailfinishes in Hokitika.
Return to Christchurch by:
Ask our team for details.
- TranzAlpine (extra cost)
- Coach (no extra cost)
If you wish to continue your stay in the West Coast region or explore another area of the South Island there are hire car facilities in Greymouth.
Book now for Next Season!
Join our tour departing 26 November 2019
Have another date in mind?
We can custom build a tour for your group, please enquire for dates available.