Our West Coast accommodations are getting ready to welcome our long-awaited International visitors. Here's a focus on the significant changes.
Change in Qualmark rating
New scenic tours now available
- Northern West Coast – Punakaiki & Buller, Denniston Mine, Coal Town Museum, Seal Colony, Punakaiki Blow Holes. Details here.
- Shantytown Heritage Tour with Lunch at Monteith’s Brewery. Details here.
- Explore South Westland, changes to this tour. We have increased the offerings to include, Tree Top Walkway, Ross Gold Fields, Franz Josef Glacier Terminal Walk, Wildlife Centre and Okarito. Details here.
Horse trekking business in now permanently closed.
- Prices change on the 1st April 2022.
- New tour: Exclusive tour: same tour but you get the boat to yourself and it concludes with a local fare BBQ, complete with delights such as crayfish (in-season), whitebait and venison on their brand new outdoor deck.
- They have an airstrip at the tour departure point which high end clients can arrive/depart by helicopter or plane.
- They now include a NZMCA (NZ motorhome and caravan association) park over property on site at their departure point.
- Brand new website.
Franz Josef Wilderness Tours (formerly Glacier Country Kayaks)
The biggest recent changes include:
- Achieved a Gold Qualmark rating this last year, which was very exciting for us!
- Finalists Leading Light Business Awards - Covid Hero category
- Underwent a rebrand during the pandemic and launched new website/brand in Nov 2020
- Guides upskilling into conservation work through Kaimahi for Nature Program. Their lead tour guide (Kylan) is learning to work with the endangered Rowi Kiwis around Lake Mapourika, through DOC's Kaimahi for Nature Program.
The main access to the area has changed over the last 3 years.
It is all land based the tour now, we don’t use a boat to get to the Nature reserve because of changes in the waterways and surrounding area. It’s now not possible to get out there by boat so they built a road.
Recently achieved Qualmark Gold accreditation in recognition of their commitment to sustainability and their resilience to still be open, supporting the Glacier Country community and fully operating during these last 2 years.
The Wildlife Centre have now hatched over 385 rowi kiwi - there are 5 species of kiwi in NZ and they have hatched & incubated the 2 world’s rarest - the rowi and Haast tokoeka.
With less than 600 rowi kiwi left alive in the wild today, the West Coast Wildlife Centre hatched over 64% of the total population helping bring kiwi back from the very edge of extinction.
- General admission from 8.30 am daily
- VIP Backstage Pass Tour for Kiwi and Tuatara
Trip Advisor and Google business rate them as making the very best coffee in Franz Josef!
Became Qualmark Bronze in 2021
New tours available in Okarito:
- Discover Okarito Package tour
Max 12 pax.
Get the most out of your Okarito Day! This amazing value package includes the 9AM EcoTour with Okarito Boat Eco tours on Okarito lagoon, a packed lunch, a visit to the Okarito Native Plant Nursery and learn how to plant a native tree in a restoration site, followed by a guided forest walk with Glacier Valley Eco Tours. Discover the 'small world' of the forest floor, birds & ancient plants and how Okarito came to be. Mountain & glacier views, stories, history, glaciology, and home to 70 + bird species - Okarito is a hidden gem on the West Coast of NZ.
- Okarito Sunset Nature Tour
Guided nature walk through forest track with mountain & glacier views, to a remote lagoon. Walk back along the rugged West Coast beach past the marine reserve and visit the Korora Blue penguin colony at dusk. Hear night bird calls such as Ruru (morepork), Rowi Kiwi - NZ's most endangered kiwi species.
Tour price includes your donation of $10pp to the West Coast Penguin Trust
Over the last two years while COVID has been wreaking havoc, they have seized the opportunity to review and updated all of their experiences (outlined below)
- 15 min Brewery Talk Experience (Tour Groups Only)
Right from the comfort of your table in the restaurant, your expert guide will give you a short introduction to Monteith’s, how beers are made and how they got to where they are today. Then enjoy a quick intro into how to taste beer like a pro.
- 30 min Beer Walk Experience (Tour Groups Only)
The Beer Experience Tour is a walking, talking and tasting tour, through the original home of Monteith’s. Your expert guide will take you through the museum, then backstage through to the brew house to learn all about Monteith’s beers and ciders: Monteith’s history, how a brewery works, the ingredients used, and how it’s made across the world today. Guests will learn everything they need to know about beer and the brewery in this fully immersive tasting experience. At this point, guests then move back to the restaurant and bar where they enjoy 3 fresh tap beer tasters.
- 1 hour Beer Experience Tour & Tasting
This is the ultimate beer experience, where guests get the full immersive package and access to guides for the full hour. Your guests will enjoy the full guided tour around the museum and famous brewery, learn the art of brewing with an up close look at the ‘engine room’ that was used to craft Monteith’s award winning beers. They’ll finish with a beer pouring and tasting lesson at the private brewers table, and learn how to pour beer like a pro - and then even pour one of the latest brews for themselves! They’ll also take home a mixed 6 pack of your favourite beers or ciders from our takeaway shop.
Have done the Qualmark certification. Awaiting their grade.
Season ends of May 31, 2022 and resumes Oct 2022.
- Discover Okarito Package
In partnership with Glacier Valley Eco Tours.
Get the most out of your Okarito day. This amazing value package includes the 9 AM EcoTour, a packed lunch, a visit to the Okarito Native Plants Nursery and actually planting a tree in a restoration site, followed by a guided forest walk. Discover the “small world” of the forest floor, ancient plants and how Okarito came to be.
- Okarito Eco Heritage Group Tour
Once home to thousands, the population now sits at about 35 - vastly different to the boom and bust days of the mid 1800’s gold rushes.
Particularly suited for groups. Capacity is 24 - with half the group walking with Paula of Okarito Boat Tours, while Swade takes a group out on the waterways, then reversing the groups. All groups, regardless of size (8 pax minimum) will have private charters.
Includes delicious 3 course lunch.
- Okarito Experience - 2 night stay & tour
For those looking to stay in lovely Okarito!
Once you have arrived, you may not want to leave! So stay and really experience Okarito - walk the Okarito Trig in the afternoon, and take in near 360 degree views of the lagoon, mountains and Tasman sea. Then watch the sun drop into the sea at sunset, listen to the call of owls at night and view the incredible night sky and stars.
- Self-contained holiday house packages include 2 night stays
- the 9 AM Boat Eco Tour.
- Early Morning Charters
From October 2022
Min. rate applies (max 12)
Private 2 to 2.5 hour morning charters available for that early light of day and your own special time on the water. Find that photograph you have dreamt of or just take in the peaceful, untouched atmosphere of this unique and inspiring landscape. Includes hot drink & snack.
Addition of half day and Full Day options.
- Half day ‘Rainforest to Wetlands’
Perfect for everyone including the kids, where you decide on the amount of time you spend exploring the activities along the trail.
Short shuttle ride to West Coast Treetop Walk & Café then it’s on the bike, witnessing one of the most scenic sections of Cycle trail in New Zealand. This is breath taking and will be a highlight! Ride through wetlands, native forest, an old mill site which has some cracking views of Lake Mahinapua.
Activities are optional (add-on): West Coast Treetop, Scenic waterways (cruise, kayak or hot tub soak).
- Full day ‘Gorge on Cycle and Scenery’
This one-day tour has it all, including a guided tour of the spectacular Hokitika Gorge and an amazing bike ride that includes Lake Kaniere, the historic water races and pristine native bush.
This is a fantastic day out for the whole family. And best of all its predominantly flat or down hill!
- Full day ‘Ross to Rainforest Rumble’
Fantastic day out with plenty of time to snap some amazing photos! With a short shuttle ride to Ross, explore the gold mining history before climbing on the bike for the peaceful ride to West Coast Treetop Walk & Café. Here you walk amongst the forest giants and enjoy a yummy lunch! The trail after lunch is simply breath taking and will be a highlight! This will take you through wetlands, native forest, an old mill site and give you some cracking views of Lake Mahinapua.
Add-on activities: West Coast Treetop, Scenic waterways (cruise, kayak or hot tub soak).