Franz Josef desperate for tourists after torrential storms

The storm is over and the roads are open but Franz Josef is feeling the effects of the deluge.

Not only are they focusing on the massive clean-up job but the town is all but deserted by tourists.

The popular hot pools are normally swimming with people, but on Thursday night not a person in sight.

Graham and Cheryl Hilton own the Punga Grove in Franz Josef and since the storm all they have received is cancellations.

"There's been a big impact obviously. We've gone from our peak season to sort of very little bookings at the moment," said Graham.

The problem is that Franz Josef is at the end of the road.

The bridge just south of the township swept away in the storm. It forms part of State Highway 6 - a popular tourist route that takes visitors all the way down the West Coast through Haast and on to Wanaka and Queenstown - that's been severed.

While the West Coast is no longer in its peak visitor season in Franz Josef, these streets at this time of the year would still usually be bustling with tourists out shopping and booking day excursions - today they're almost empty.

Repairs to the Waiho Bridge are well underway and will re-join the State Highway from both sides.

As the town patiently digs in and business operators wait for the bridge to be fixed, what they really want, is tourists - with the world famous attractions still operational

"The roads have been open for 24 hours. The message we're spreading is business as usual," Ashley Cassin from the Glacier Country Tourism Group.

And it hasn't stopped Jane and Rick Jolley. They've waited three days to get up the glacier - a 20 year dream come true.

"Truly spectacular, amazing, I've been teaching about that stuff all my life but to get up there and see it you just go 'wow',"

The perfect endorsement for Franz Josef, desperately waiting for their lifeline - the Waiho Bridge - to be rebuilt.

Newshub.

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