Our Future Our Franz Josef


There is still time to provide your feedback! Go to the link below to complete the online feedback form

The challenge

Franz Josef is a unique and iconic tourism destination on the West Coast, but it faces some significant challenges. Natural hazards are by their very nature uncertain, dynamic and exist in perpetuity, and for the Franz Josef Township they have serious implications for life and economic activity.  ​

Waiho River 

The Waiho River is among the most difficult New Zealand rivers to manage. With bed aggradation (gravel build-up) rates averaging between 0.16 metres and 0.2 metres per annum, it is likely that in 30 years, or sooner as a result of significant storm events, the river bed will be equal to, or higher than, the level of the Franz Josef Township if nothing is done. At this point, parts of the town effectively become river bed. 

The Alpine Fault

The Alpine Fault runs through the commercial centre of Franz Josef. A rupture of this fault will cause strong ground shaking and deformation of the ground surface around the fault. It is expected that there would be considerable damage to existing buildings as well as the infrastructure that supports the town. There is also the possibility that such an event would cause an earthquake-triggered landslide which would significantly compromise all of the value at stake in the town including life, capital values and tourism flows.

Do nothing is no longer an option 

The West Coast Regional Council engaged Tonki​n+Taylor and EY to undertake a Natural Hazards Options Assessment and Cost Benefit Analysis to develop an appropriate evidence base to assist decision-making about ‘the best’ way forward. 

Working closely with the community and stakeholders three packages of options have been identified:

  • Avoid nature’s most significant challenges 
  • Live with nature’s challenges 
  • Defend against nature’s challenges 

A copy of the Franz Josef Natural Hazards Options Assessment and Cost Benefit Analysis is available to be downloaded below:

Some users may experience problems opening these PDFs. We have found that the browsers Chrome and Edge work well. if you do experience problems, try opening in a different PDF viewer. Please contact Alex Ching alexc@wcrc.govt.nz if problems persist.​

A collective decision needs to be made as to what the appetite is for living with these natural hazard risks. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Franz Josef, not only to protect the value at stake in the Township, but to make a decision that would  usually be made in haste aft er a catastrophic  event has occurred; and agree the ‘best way’ forward for the town in the context of these very real natural hazard challenges.

Your feedback is needed 

The Council is seeking your feedback to understand which of the three packages, or the options they contain, you prefer. It is really important that we hear from you. The feedback received will help us determine if there is general consensus within the community as to which of the packages, or options from the various packages, are preferred to progress to a business case.​​

How do I provide feedback?

You can provide feedback by clicking the 'have your say!​' button below:


We recommended that people refer to the 'Franz Josef Natural Hazards Options Assessment and Cost Benefit Analysis' report above​ 

For further information to assist with answering these questions you can download the following information below:

Franz Josef Questionnaire Summary (PDF, 140KB)
Franz Josef Questionnaire Risk Appetite (PDF, 97KB)

You can also visit us at one of the 'drop in' sessions - see below for more information.

Feedback must be received by the Regional Council by 22 December 2017. 

What if I want to find out more?

Council will hold 'drop in' sessions, so you can discuss the packages and options with us in further detail, on:

22 Nov 2pm – 4pm & 6pm – 8pm 
23 Nov 8am – 10am 
13 Dec 2pm – 4pm & 6pm – 8pm 
14 Dec 8am – 10am 
at the Franz Josef Medical Centre.​


General enquiries

If you have any general questions please contact Hadley Mills, Planning, Science and Innovation Manager, on freephone 0508 800 118 xtn.8237 or email hadleym@wcrc.govt.nz

Media enquiries

For any media enquiries please contact Nichola Costley, Manager Strategy and Communications, on 021 168 6987 or email nc@wcrc.govt.nz ​

What happens next?​

The following timeline provides an indication as to the next steps in the process to determining the future for Franz Josef.

Nov/Dec: Establishment of a Governance Group to oversee this project moving forward

Nov/Dec: Consultation completed before the end of December 

Jan/Feb: Analysis of the feedback 

Feb: Governance Group to review information 

Feb/March: Test feedback received with the Franz Josef Working Group to ensure the package of options to take forward are those most widely supported 

March: Governance Group to confirm the package, or combination of options from the packages to progress to a business case development process 

April: Business case development proceeds

Managing the Waiho River

Whatever package, or range of options from the packages, is chosen to progress, there is work required in the short term with managing the Waiho River. The Council will be developing a holistic river management plan and will consult with the community on this through the Long Term Plan process in the first quarter of 2018. 



Page reviewed: 09 Jan 2018 12:18pm