The Sleepy Town
The Sleepy Town
DAY 3: FRANZ JOSEF, NZ
Franz Josef is a tiny sleepy town. You could probably walk around its CBD - if you can call it that - in under an hour. What it lacks in size and bustle, it makes up for with quaint charm and picturesque mountains. It's a lovely place to pass through with some great hikes and a few adventure experiences. Definitely my kind of place.
We were staying in Franz Josef for 2 nights, 1 whole day and 2 half days. On arrival we booked a glacier heli-hike for the next day because it was our full day in Franz Josef. However, helicopter experiences are very dependent on the weather and unfortunately it was too rainy and cloudy for us to fly when we got up the next day so we had to post-pone it to the next available day.
The only other activity that the weather permitted was ATV bikes, which we were definitely keen on but found they had been booked out for the day. So my tip here is when you book your activities - book early but also don't forget to consider the weather. That left the whole day for us to explore Franz Josef.
I have to be honest, we saw most of the town the day we arrived and the weather was miserable so we took an afternoon nap… In the evening we went for a short drive out of town. We drove for 5-10 minutes and saw signs for walking tracks on the side of the road so we decided to stop. There were parking bays along the road we were driving on.
We found a 3.9km track called 'Douglas Walk', the boards estimated a 1-hr return. As the sun was setting, we only did half the walk. The walk was easy and pleasant. It took about 15-20 minutes for us to reach the Douglas Bridge, suspended over the Waiho River and surrounded by mountains and greenery. Definitely recommend this walk if you want something short and easy. There were longer trails in the same area if you have more time, if weather permits and you are up for a challenge.