Bush, Rugged Coastline, Gold, Untamed Rivers and Glaciers
Tucked between the high mountains of the Southern Alps and the rugged western sea coast is an area known as Westland Tai Poutini National Park. This park is part of a larger network of four national parks that is collectively known as Te Wahipounamu, one of the greatest natural areas of the world, now recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Franz Josef Trail takes you on a journey of discovery in the National Park, with several short and longer day walks covering dense rainforest, scenic lakes, relics of old gold mining settlements and the spectacular glaciers, Franz Josef and Fox.
4 days / 3 nights
An average level of fitness. Walk 7kms, Bike 25kms. Well formed tracks and roads with very little incline.
Do you have another date in mind?We can build a tour especially for your group, please enquire for dates available.
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.
First 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 1600 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.
Franz Josef to Okarito to 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.
Lake Matheson to Hokitika to 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 Trail finishes in Hokitika.
Double or twin share. If single room accommodation is requested, an additional fee per person is payable to cover this requirement for the duration of the walk.
You will enjoy great local cuisine; continental breakfasts and hearty packed lunches during the day, and either restaurant meals or wholesome home-cooked fare prepared by your host/hostess in the evenings.If you have any dietary issues or food allergies, we are happy to cater for these, please advise the office of details when you make your booking. All meals are included in your tour cost except your evening meal on night Five. Wine and other beverages are available to be purchased during dinners.
Tuatara Tours transports all your luggage for the duration of the tour.
All you carry is a small day pack with your personal gear, drink and lunch. We do the rest.
To ensure you get the very best out of your journey with the least of fuss, we provide you with a kit bag full of useful goodies.
This will be given to you at the start of your tour.
Our guides are very experienced, friendly walkers and bikers who love to share their knowledge of New Zealand’s flora and fauna and local history. They all hold current first aid certificates, passenger driving licences and are the very best people to ensure your experience will be one to remember.
To ensure maximum safety for all, our guides are certified first aiders and fully qualified drivers. Tuatara Tours operate under a Safety and Risk Management Plan which is regularly audited and approved by a qualified and independent auditor.