Indoor glacier gives rain the slip
Tuesday January 30, 2007
By Owen Hembry

Ice wall manager Kevin O'Donnell gets some hands-on experience at the Hukawai Glacier Centre at Franz Josef. Photo / supplied

Building an indoor glacier next to the real thing may sound like an unlikely business prospect but Hukawai Glacier Centre co-founder Jennie O'Loughlin believes she's identified a gap in the tourism market.

The $7 million centre at Franz Josef township - about 5km from the real glacier - opens on February 26, seven months after the building project began.

Visitors to the centre will walk through a mock rainforest - with information on the area, modelling, touch screens, audio visual panels, animation, sound effects of local wildlife and the environment - before a journey through the valley with stones underfoot and finally to a re-creation of the Franz Josef Glacier itself including ice caves and crevasses.

"A lot of people are having a lot shorter holidays now and so they come through, they stop here, might only be for a day and ... if it's pouring down with rain they hardly even get to see it [the glacier]," O'Loughlin says.

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