Franz Josef

43.3873° S, 170.1833° E

 Franz Josef was a point where I only really wanted to stay for a day. This all changed when we met up with Jacs old friend from Wales Jake. Jac had been trying to contact him for a few days and it was kind of fate that they happened to be in the same place at the same time, as both of their original plans would have landed them in different places. We headed for a coffee and a bowel of chips and the boys began to catch up with each other. Jake was good craic and fucking hilarious. I instantly felt like I’d also known him all these years and was also just catching up with an old friend.


Still wanting to see the things Franz had to offer, we invited Jake to join us on a walk to the Tartare Tunnels. The walk is pretty easy with just a small hill up to the old mining tunnels, but the tunnels well that’s a little bit of a different story. Id called the lady in the DOC centre to see what the condition of the tunnel would be like as it had been raining for a few days and she said it would be dark and wet, but she didn’t say it would be this wet! Luckily we had our shell jackets and hiking boots. Unfortunately for Jake we forgot to pass the memo on so he turned up in a t-shirt and a pair of crocs. Woops sorry Jake.


Tartare tunnel

As we were about to enter the dark and dripping wet cave I turned to Jac to grab the head torch. Ha, yeah, just kidding, we’d forgotten that in the car. Oh well we were here now so instead I flicked on my phone light and we began rock hopping our way through the cave trying to keep our feet dry. The deeper we got in to the cave the less rocks there were and the deeper the water became. Straddling from side to side with our backs hunched over, we quickly figured that the only way through this and it was to just give up trying to keep our feet dry and plough through until we reached the other end. 

Eventually after what seemed like for ever but was actually only about 5 minutes we popped out the other side to the view of some trees, the sounds of the river and a German pair we had seen on the walk up. We were at what seemed like the end, however… a friend had told me of a second secret tunnel that you could access that leads up to a lagoon. Being a keen bean I was defiantly ready for a little off the beaten track adventure. We invited the Germans to join us and began scaling down the bridge over to what we thought might be the secret tunnel entrance. As we started to question whether we’d taken the right route we thought we could hear music. Suddenly out popped 6 people with tunes blasting on a mini speaker and big smiles on their faces. This is defiantly the way to the lagoon. 

Tartare tunnel Secret lagoon


One by one we shimmied around a hidden door and over a small waterfall before entering the secret second tunnel. This tunnel was so much drier but got pretty low as we got deeper in. finally we reached a point where the tunnel got supper low. As me, Jac and the Germans are figuring out who was going first and how were going to get through, Jake was stood behind us and trying to tell us something ‘erm, guys I think it’s here’


Too deep in thought and conversation we carried on and Jac had nominated himsef to crawl through first.


‘Guys I think its here’ jake said again


Jac started to lower down so he could get on his belly and slide his way through the last part of the tunnel


GUYS!!! The exit is here!


We all turned around, looked at Jake, looked up to see a hatch and then all burst out in to laughter. Fucking idiots. Again one by one we climbed up the ladder and then out through the hatch in to the lagoon. It was awesome, surrounded by high walls of plant covered mountains with a waterfall running down one of the walls straight in to the lagoon pool. 

Tartare tunnel Hidden Lagoon

The water looked so tempting to jump in. The only reason we didn’t get in was because it was pretty cold. We stayed there for half an hour taking in the surroundings before heading back the way we came and over to the other tunnel. On the way back through the long tunnel we managed to spot a few glow worms too which was pretty sweet.


We walked back with the Germans and after sharing the adventure we agreed to meet up later for a few beers at the rainforest bar and hostel. However, Jac lost his cigarettes and we ended up being super late and missing them, after driving round Franz Josef retracing his steps to find out that they were in the front of the car all along. But hay ho, we enjoyed a few beers and then headed off to a campsite and planned to meet up with Jake again tomorrow so we could visit Franz Josef Glacier. 

franz josef glacier

Secret lagoon directions:

 once at the end of the Tartare tunnel walk on to the bridge, look directly opposite and there is a small waterfall that leads down to the river. This is the entrance to the hidden tunnel. Carefully climb over on to the wooden supports and then hug the rock face until you get over to the other side. From here step over the top waterfall pool, around the door and in to the secret tunnel. Go through the tunnel until you reach a point just before where it gets ridiculously low. DO NOT go through here. If you look up there is a hatch a ladder leading up to it. Remember to put the hatch back on after your visit is over. 

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