West coast

Explore Haast and Glacier Country

Tips for exploring the West Coast glaciers and our UNESCO world heritage area.

West Coast Tourism

March 29, 2019


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There are heaps of unforgettable experiences in our Untamed Natural Wilderness just waiting for you!


Heli Hike the most accessible glaciers in the world

The glaciers are still accessible by helicopter and offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Fly over these glacial giants that descend into temperate rainforests before landing on them and getting to explore them by foot. Four hours on these natural wonders will take your breath away.

If you’re on a budget, check out the many scenic flights available in the area, they run between 20 – 40 minutes and offer alpine landings.

Check out West Coast's unique wildlife

Cruise the waters of Okarito Lagoon either by boat tour or kayak and take in the breath-taking birdlife of New Zealand’s largest unmodified wetland.

If you have ever wanted to spot a Kiwi in its natural environment, there’s not better place to try than Okarito. Okarito Kiwi Tours will take you in the hillsides at night and if you’re quiet (and patient) enough, you will spot our rare little birds.

If you can’t wait another second to see the Kiwi, head to West Coast Wildlife in Franz Josef and see them in the nocturnal house. You can also check out the Tuatara, lizards that live hundreds of years.

Relax and unwind in the hot pools

The Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools are waiting for you! Soak in three different temperature pools covered overhead with screening (to keep the leaves of the surrounding rainforest off you).

Treat yourself even more and opt for the massage and pamper packages.

Jet the waters of Haast (or fly above them)

Haast earns its UNESCO World Heritage title with jaw-dropping mountains and views.

Cruise the blue waters of Haast River with Haast River Safaris for an hour. They’re completely covered so you won’t get wet, but you will be exposed to the sheer mountains edging straight on the riverside.

Or if you want a little bit of a rush, check out Waiatoto River Safari in Jackson’s Bay. Their 2.5hour tours take you from the coastline into backcountry by water, zigging and zagging impressive boulders on the way into countryside that hasn’t been accessed by foot.

If you’re after a bit of height, the helicopter flights above Haast are second to none. Exploring Kiwis even rate them as the most scenic they’ve ever experienced in over 40 countries they have visited.

Haast Heli offer flights from as short as 30 minutes over the Hanging Lakes, to longer flights through to Milford Sound. Their flights start from as little as $99 per person.

Immerse yourself in our wilderness

The West Coast is made up of 85% Department of Conservation land, so if you want to escape to nature, this region has your name all over it.

Explore the many waterfalls of Haast Pass (Fantail Falls, The Roaring Billies or Thundercreek Falls) or the famous Blue Pools Walk (just one hour return).

Take in the views from Lake Paringa and grab a bite at the Westland Salmon Farm (you can feed the salmon here).

Stop for a while at Lake Matheson in Fox Glacier, and if you’re lucky, spot the famous reflection of Mt Cook in its waters.

Lake Mapourika is known for its calm waters and is perfect for kayaking.

Eat all the food

From Asian fusion to traditional whitebait patties, there’s a wide variety of West Cuisine at your disposal in Franz Josef, Fox Glacier or Haast.

Sleep in West Coast style

We do things a little differently here on the West Coast, so it’s no surprise that our accommodation offerings are unique.

Splash out on a 5 star tree house with its own private hot tub in Franz Josef, or wake up with the Haast UNESCO Word Heritage area on your doorstep.

From backpackers through to boutique accommodation, your budget can be met.