Rainy day in Franz Josef
Raining in Franz Josef? Frantically googling what to do on a rainy day?
The months leading up to our trip we had our hearts set on the Glacier Heli Hike in Franz Josef. So, you can imagine our disappointment when we arrived and it’s pouring with no chance of the rain easing up (well it did, of course, the morning we needed to leave for Queenstown!).
*Insert really really sad face here*
We were told that it frequently rains in Franz Josef, particularly in the springtime (so we were told once we were there!) it is definitely a good idea to have a backup plan.
We visited Franz Josef as part of our Wild Kiwi Tour on the South Island and our guide, Mark, managed to keep us entertained – wet weather and all.
What to do in Franz Josef in the rain
Not wanting to waste our only day in Franz Josef, we braved the rain and put on our waterproof and windproof jackets, waterproof boots and decided to venture off on a fun-filled day of exploring!
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For our highlights from our rainy day in Franz Josef, check out this short video!
Franz Josef Glacier Walk
Located a short drive from the Franz Josef Village, you just follow the signs to Franz Josef Glacier Walk. At the carpark, you will also find public toilets should you need to make a pitstop before starting the walk. The walk is around a 1.5 hour round trip and isn’t too difficult, so some decent shoes and you’ll be fine. If you don’t have a car, most hotels arrange a shuttle service to the car park (for a fee).
Despite the rain (and I am talking heavy rain), the walk was lovely – beautiful paths and lush scenery. So don’t let the rain put you off!
The start of the walk, known as Forest Walk has plenty of information boards to get you up to speed with the area and history. From here, it is around a 1.5km walk to get to the face of where you can start to enjoy the glacier (well, in our case we couldn’t see it too well!).
On a clear day, you should be able to see the blue ice and enjoy the views of the glacier.
We continued along the Waiho riverbed to enjoy the waterfalls up close and personal! The first significant waterfall is called Trident Falls.
If you continue to the last set of barriers you can get a feel of how large this glacier really is. This point is less than 300m above sea level and also happens to be one of the three glaciers in the world that sit this close to the coastline.
But, due to the rain and fog, we couldn’t see it! But, there are some lovely waterfalls and it is still beautiful despite the weather.
You can see me standing there next to the waterfall – you can get an idea of the size of the waterfall.
Tatare Tunnels Walk
Mark, our guide, drove us to the base of the second walk for the day – Tatare Tunnels.
Mark had warned us to pack some thongs/flip flops/jandals (whatever you want to call them!) as when we walked through the tunnel it would be through some water around ankle deep. I decided to keep my waterproof boots on, Jenna changed into her thongs. Let’s just say she probably made the right decision. Although her feet were freezing (you need to remember we did this in September so it was pretty cold still) her boots remained intact! During the tunnel walk, you can see some glow worms which are pretty cool.
The walk is a 1.5-hour return journey which initially follows an old 4WD road track and then climbs into the old water tunnels. The first 10 minutes of the walk is pretty easy going and then it becomes steep (Jenna would say very steep!) and narrow for the climb to the Tatare Tunnels.
Tip: You will need a torch, raincoat and flipflops to explore the tunnels!
When you reach the end of the first tunnel, you will see the rainforest. This is where the track ends and you can’t go any further, unfortunately.
On our way back down to the bottom, we stopped to enjoy this gorgeous waterfall!
West Coast Wildlife Centre
After a warm shower, we were off to the West Coast Wildlife Centre. We got a backpackers rate of $25 NZD per person to see the kiwis. To be completely honest… I definitely wouldn’t recommend visiting the Wildlife Centre. The Kiwi’s are nocturnal, which means the room is super dark and it’s very difficult to see them. I’d include a photo here but you’re not allowed to take photos (not that they would come out). Avoid.do
Jenna was absolutely keen on heading inside to see a kiwi- but there are plenty of wildlife centres around and the one in Queenstown appears to have a larger exhibit and other wildlife as well so if you must, maybe head there instead.
Glacier Hot Pools
Then it was time to relax… we stopped for a couple of hours at the Glacier Hot Pools. It cost us $28 NZD per person to get in and was worth it especially on a rainy day like we had. You can hire lockers in the change room for $2 or you can put your stuff out in the open lockers by the pools.
Here is a short 30-second video of what you can expect in the pool area!
Where to eat in Franz Josef
The Landing: The food was a really good serving size and quite yummy as well. Would recommend for a lunchtime visit.
King Tiger: This restaurant is a mixture of Indian, Thai & Chinese. There is something there for everyone. Food was alright, and given we were such a large group, I was impressed that everything came out correctly!!
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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain