Explore Haast and Glacier Country
Tips for exploring the West Coast glaciers and our UNESCO world heritage area.
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.
- Franz Josef Glacier Guides
- Fox Glacier Guides are open, but can only take bookings by email at the moment.
- The Helicopter Line
- Fox and Franz Heliservices
- Vantage Helicopters
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.
- Frontier Bar & Café.
- The Last Kitchen.
- Cooks Saddle Cafe and Saloon.
- King Tiger.
- The Landing Bar & Restaurant.
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.