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Tatara Tunnel, Franz Josef

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Easy 2.5k walk starting from Franz Josef town to Tatara Tunnel, about a 1.5 hour walk. Around 1907 a team of miners working for the Waiho Sluicing Company started blasting a tunnel into the Tatara mountain. The 500m tunnel was built to supply water 5 km away for gold slicing at the mining site in the Waiho River.

Quick Facts

        • Location: Franz Josef, South Island, New Zealand
        • Time needed: 1 hour 30 min walk
        • Distance: 2.5 km
        • Difficulty: Easy
        • Bikes allowed: No
        • Route: Double back
        • Elevation: 320m
        • Wet Feet: Yes
        • Toilets: No
        • Dogs: No
        • Mobile Coverage: No
        • Last Updated: April, 2020
  • Track Highlights

    The tunnel and old sluicing gear.

  • Track Quality

    The track is a serviceable road which runs out fifteen minutes before the Tatara Tunnel. From the road end it is a interesting uphill track mostly made up of slabs of rock and narrow walkways.

  • Hazards

    None really

  • Transport

    Short walk from Franz Josef town.

  • Water

    No

  • Driving Instructions

    Short walk from Franz Josef town

  • Shops or Restaurants nearby

    Plenty to choose from in Franz Josef

  • Area & Track History

    Around 1907 a team of miners working for the Waiho Sluicing Company started blasting a tunnel into the Tatara mountain. The 500m tunnel was built to supply water 5 km away for gold slicing at the mining site in the Waiho River, the very same river where you will find New Zealand’s famous Franz Josef Glacier. The miners spent an exhausting year digging the Tatara tunnel only to find out there was not enough gold in the ground to pay for the expensive mining operation, hence gold mining in Franz Josef came to an abrupt end. But not all of the exhausting work was lost, the water from the Tatara tunnel was used to supply water and power to Franz Josef township and power to a local saw milling company. Then disaster struck as it does on the rugged West Coast, the hydroelectric power station was washed away in a massive flood in 1982.

  • Camping & huts on or near the walk

    No camping on this walk

  • Best Things To Do near this walk

Map of Test Walk

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Points of interest along the walk

Read more about points of interest along the walk with details and photos.

Point 1: Start of the Tatare Tunnel walk

Heads to the cul-de-sac in Cowan Street this is your starting point. Just follow the road to the turn off, 11 minutes. You take the left fork, there is a signpost giving you directions. Then follow your nose to the start of an easy up hill section of the walk. The walk is through bush all the way so don’t expect to be walking in the sun, it can end up being a cold walk.

Point 2: The Tatare Tunnel

You will need a torch for each person and if you can carry a pair of gumboots in a backpack you will be extremely happy you took my advice. Tatara Tunnel is about 340m long, very dark and has a continuous current of clean freezing cold water flowing through it at a depth of 100mm in places. Even the air current through the tunnel is freezing.

Weather in Franz Josef today:

FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER WEATHER

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Contact info

Tatare Tunnels Walk 21 Cowan Street, Franz Josef Glacier 7886, New Zealand

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