“Of course it’s raining! Why do you think it’s called a rain forest?” I was eavesdropping on a conversation by West Coaster Possum Pete owner of Pukekura north of Franz Josef. I will never forget the look on the person’s face. It was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud. I walked away but a smile returns every time I think of it.
Paula and I had just spent several days in the brown, dusty and parched Canterbury farm land that resembled the Australian outback and we were in need of the sight and smell of green grass and woodland. Off across Arthur’s Pass with a stop at Jackson’s Pub for a venison pie. Soon we were on the coast with luscious green foliage everywhere. A sigh of satisfaction as our green visual needs were fulfilled.
We decided to head south and spend some time at the Franz Josef Holiday Park in the middle of Franz Josef and to get back in touch with the wild West Coast and the Glacier Country in particular. The Rainforest Retreat Holiday Park, even though it is right in Franz Josef, provides a feeling of having pulled right into the bush far removed from the outside world. In the background are the mountains and glaciers peeking through; a very special spot to hang out and enjoy our traveling lifestyle.
The Rainforest Retreat is six acres of secluded rain forest with a winding gravel trail into the park area that has the feel you are driving deep into the real bush. Each site is situated to provide maximum privacy. We were tucked away in the New Zealand bush but only a stone’s throw from their top quality modern facilities in the showers, toilets, lounge and kitchen area provided.
In addition, on the property a short walk away, is the Monsoon Bar and Restaurant where you can have breakfast before exploring the region’s natural wonders. Enjoy time to experience glaciers, mountains, lakes and streams that you can fly over, take a helicopter to, walk on or take a myriad of walks to fit anyone’s tempo. If you are a fisherman check out Lake Mapourika, Lake Wahapo or the Waiho River just north of the Park. Another true eco-experience close by is to go by kayak to visit the white herons on the Okarito Lagoon, New Zealand’s largest unmodified wetland also surrounded by rain forest.
Paula and I enjoy traveling south the 23 kilometres to Fox Glacier mainly to walk around Lake Matheson one of the truly fabulous picture post card spots in New Zealand.
To add real enjoyment during your stay at the Rainforest Retreat Holiday Park and to take full advantage of living in a rain forest or easing the tired muscles when evening comes join others in a large public spa or submerge your body into the hot bubbly waters of your own private spa. The Scandinavian Sauna may fulfill your end of the day and then off to a quiet and peaceful night’s sleep tucked into the rain forest away from the crowds.
The Rainforest Retreat Holiday Park is easily found. Driving from the north on Route Six take the first street to the left as you enter the main part of Franz Josef to Cron Avenue and you will be there. From the south the first street to the right will take you to Cron Avenue. Continue the length of the street to the entrance to the park.
Enjoy the peace and quiet of a true rain forest but remember it just may rain but then who cares?
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