West Coast & the Glaciers

The Wild West

Isolated from the rest of New Zealand by the Southern Alps, the West Coast is a wild pioneer frontier offering a unique and distinctive culture, sitting alongside unparalleled natural wonders.

The longest region in the country (at 600 kilometres), you will need to allow yourself enough time to thoroughly enjoy the constantly changing landscape of the West Coast, where legends and myths cling to every feature. Wild beaches, snow-capped mountains, immense ice glaciers, mysterious lakes, raging rivers and Heritage-listed pre-dinosaur forests combine with a plethora of outdoor adventures, prolific wildlife and authentic local hospitality, to make the region a must-do on your New Zealand itinerary.

Take a walk through the rainforest lining the coast and stop by the unique Punakaiki (Pancake) Rocks at the coast’s northern end.

Two highlights not to be missed are the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers, immense rivers of ancient ice that have crept down to meet the rainforests, just 250 metres above sea level. Marked by dramatic fissures and ravines and fed by a high annual snowfall, the glaciers offer adventure like no other: don a set of crampons and take a guided walk through the glaciers’ otherworldly landscape, or enjoy a heli-ski ride to the glaciers’ summits.

Insiders' Tips

  • Photograph Mt Tasman and Mt Cook: Reflections of Lake Matheson at dawn or at dusk.
  • 'Flowing West': A 25 minute movie tracing the cycle of water in the glacier region, is shown daily at the Alpine Adventure Centre in Franz Josef Village.
  • Pay a Visit to the Fascinating Stratified Rocks: Listen to the roar of the blowholes at Punakaiki.
  • Glaciers: Visiting Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers are a must-do in this part of the world and never cease to amaze the traveller.
  • West Coast Lifestyle: If you get the chance, share a beer with a local and let them rgeale you with tales of west coast life.

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