Te Ara a Waiau Walkway in Westland Tai Poutini National Park. © DOC Creative Commons

Te Ara a Waiau Walkway/Cycleway

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Walk or cycle through bush from Franz Josef township to the Franz Josef Glacier car park. 

About the walk

How long will it take? This is a 8.7km two-hour return walk. It’ll take about one hour for mountain bikers.

Te Ara a Waiau starts from SH 6 just outside the Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre and i-SITE.

Pick up the track on the right-hand side of the road outside the Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre and i-SITE, before crossing and then going under the Waiho River bridge. The track then runs along the left-hand edge of the Glacier Access Road for approximately 1.7km on a sealed lane marked for walkers and cyclists. Keep off the road lanes. 

Approaching the Rātā Grove, a gravel track heads into the forest on the left-hand side of the road for a short time, before re-emerging from the forest and crossing the Glacier Valley Access Road. Take care to give way to all traffic and cross carefully.

Once across the road, the track winds its way easily up the valley through lush rainforest with abundant birdlife. 

The track crosses the Lake Wombat Walk just minutes from the road crossing – take care at this intersection also. Cyclists watch for walkers crossing! Views of the mountains and upper valley are possible at times as you head up the valley.

Cyclists must leave their bikes at the bike rack at the end of Te Ara a Waiau – there is no bike access on any other tracks in the area.

View from St James church in Franz Josef township

View from St James church in Franz Josef township. © Jocelyn Kinghorn Creative Commons

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