Tatare Tunnels Walk Franz Josef
The track takes you to the tunnels that were blasted through bedrock and used to supply water to Waiho River sluice face during the historic gold rush. The walk takes about 1 hour 20 minutes return. It is worth taking a flashlight so you can explore the old tunnel and see the glow worms.
You can also look at the start of a seventy meter penstock near the tunnel entrance that once led to a hydroelectric power station. Wear warm socks and sturdy footwear as ankle deep water runs through the tunnel all year round. Mind your head in some places; the tunnel ceiling is low.
The trailhead in Franz Josef Glacier Village is at the cul-de-sac at the end of Cowan Street where you can also access the Callery Walk.
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. You will have officially earned a coffee or a cold beer at one of the village's many eating and drinking establishments.
“The Waiho Sluicing Company” was the first commercial gold mining enterprise in the area. They achieved a massive engineering feat by transporting water from the Tatare Gorge to the sluice face at the Waiho River through a network of tunnels and 350 metres of water race.
Booking and more information:
For more info including detailed guides, personal locator beacons, weather updates etc, visit the Department of Conservation Visitor Centre in the Franz Josef Glacier township.
Check out the DOC web site for more info on all things outdoor