When cruising into Franz Josef the first thought that came to my mind was “this is the reason I’m travelling New Zealand.” Situated in Westland Tai Poutini National Park, this wee town meets the true adventurers’ needs.
The town comprises of two streets, 330 welcoming locals, and is set in the heart of the rainforest, which is quite strange when you glance up and catch sight of towering glaciers and snow clad mountains. The West Coast of New Zealand is one of only two places in the world where you will find glaciers that flow right into a temperate rainforest.
There’s an array of different things to do in town, if you stick around a little longer you will have time to check out an assortment of tours which explore the glacier valley in a variety of ways. While I was here I was lucky enough to get out on a paddle with Franz Josef Tours.
Meet the friendly kayak team in their office at the Rainforest Retreat, they’ll give you all the tips and gear you need then hop into the van – and you’re off to the lake!
Lake Mapourika is one of the most stunning places on earth and once you’ve seen it, you’re left with an insatiable desire to experience it again and again. Those three magical hours on the water are as much for their enjoyment as they are for yours, resulting in enthusiastic staff providing an overly entertaining trip.
One of the biggest perks of kayaking is the ease of it. Even if it’s your first time in a boat, to operate it requires minimal coordination skill. Basically if you can walk, you can kayak. All gear and transportation is supplied for you, including your very own photographer (the guide) who will capture stunning photos of you in your happy relaxed state (potentially from knowing your brand new SLR Nikon camera is not at risk of taking a bath).
The lake is sheltered from the harsh coastal winds, and more often than not it will be perfectly placid creating a mirror like reflection of your surroundings in the water below. The native birdsong creates pleasant background music, and the overwhelming beauty of the glacier capped mountains has you entranced. Each stroke of your paddle pulls you deeper and deeper into a meditative state of sublimity.
Before you know it you are heading back to shore cursing Einstein’s Theory of Relativity; three hours have passed in a flash. But your relaxation lasts long after your kayak is back on the trailer, and driving back to town you find yourself thinking; “Now this is what I call a vacation…”.
Check back for more blogs on kayaking adventures soon!