Our Future Our Franz Josef

3/04/2018 12:00 a.m.


Franz feedback summary

A summary of the feedback received on the future of Franz Josef has been completed.

Comprising the responses of 102 submitters, the summary presents the information provided in the feedback and does not make any attempt to draw conclusions.

The Franz Josef Governance Group, consisting of representatives from local and central government, iwi, business and the community, met on 27 March 2018 to start the review of this information and to map a pathway forward. Business cases will be developed from here to assist with further discussions with Government.

A copy of the feedback summary is available to be downloaded below:

Franz Josef Feedback Summary (PDF)

A media release​ regarding the feedback is available to be downloaded below:

Media Release - Franz Josef Feedback Summary​​ (PDF)

We will continue to post regular updates to this web page to keep you up to date on progress.​​

​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.

What if I want to find out more?

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 ​


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

Nov/Dec 2017: Establishment of a Governance Group to oversee this project moving forward

Nov/Dec 2017Consultation completed before the end of December 

Jan/Feb 2018Analysis of the feedback 

March 2018Governance Group to review information 

April 2018: Test feedback received with the Franz Josef Working Group to ensure the package of options to take forward are those most widely supported 

April 2018: Governance Group to confirm the package, or combination of options from the packages to progress to a business case development process 

April/May 2018: 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: 03 Apr 2018 11:12am