Things to do in
West Coast, South Island

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Our most recommended things to do in West Coast, South Island

Hokitika: West Coast Treetop Walkway Entrance Ticket

1. Hokitika: West Coast Treetop Walkway Entrance Ticket

Experience an exhilarating treetop adventure among temperate rainforest giants at the Hokitika West Coast Treetop Walkway. Begin the adventure when you arrive at the Treetops Cafe. Embark on a 5-minute walk through the beautiful Rainforest that will lead you to the start of the treetop walk (a shuttle is available for people with impaired mobility). There is easy access for all to enjoy along a steel platform that is 20 meters high and over 450 meters long. Then, enjoy a 45-minute and 1-hour stroll through the amazing West Coast Rainforest Tree Tops, listening to the birds and taking in incredible views. For the more adventurous travelers, opt to climb up to the top of the Hokitika Tower that will take you 40 meters above the forest floor. Be inspired by the sensational views over majestic snow-capped mountains, ancient rainforest and the Tasman Sea. Finish your experience back at Treetops cafe where they have a variety of delicious refreshments for purchase.

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Franz Josef Town: Glacier Helicopter Tour with Snow Landing

2. Franz Josef Town: Glacier Helicopter Tour with Snow Landing

Take in some of New Zealand’s most impressive mountains during a helicopter ride. Land among them for even more spectacular views and fantastic photo opportunities. Meet at the local partner’s office to check in and attend a safety briefing. Then, following a transfer to a private hangar, you will meet your pilot and board the helicopter for takeoff. Put your headset on to enjoy your pilot's guided commentary. Fly over the terminal moraine of the ancient Franz Josef Glacier and up the valley over the ice river. Take in the ice pinnacles and crevasses before flying onwards amongst the impressive Southern Alps. Land on an elevated landing site to enjoy stunning views of some of New Zealand’s highest mountains. You will have plenty of time to take incredible photos before returning to the hangar.

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From Greymouth: Punakaiki Blowholes & Pancake Rocks Tour

3. From Greymouth: Punakaiki Blowholes & Pancake Rocks Tour

Travel the Coast Road, a scenic drive passing beaches and bays with native West Coast bush background. Stop for photos along the way before reaching Punakaiki where you will be guided through the pancake rocks and blowholes. Enjoy a nature walk with access to interpretation panels to learn about your surroundings.  After spending time at the blow holes you have time to grab a refreshment at the local cafe before travelling on to the Truman Track. Take a short walk to an ocean viewing platform and sandy bay. At low tide you can access the bay and walk along to the rock pools.  Head back via the famous Coast Road and if time allows the tour guide can stop off at some bays along the way and allow time for more photos. Your tour ends back in Greymouth at your accommodation or at the visitor centre.

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Franz Josef Glacier: 2-Hour Scenic Lake Mapourika Cruise

4. Franz Josef Glacier: 2-Hour Scenic Lake Mapourika Cruise

Soak up panoramic views of the Southern Alps and glaciers reflecting on the mirror-like waters of Lake Mapourika on this 2-hour scenic cruise. The lake was created by the Franz Josef Glacier as it retreated 14,000 years ago and now sits calm and reflective between the Southern Alps and the sea. Meet your experienced skipper and small group at the office in Franz Josef and take a complimentary transfer out to Lake Mapourika. Board the boat, then sit back and relax onboard the Hanna-k in the comfortable enclosed cabin or on the covered back deck. Your skipper will take you through to the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary on the far shorelines of the lake and will help you spot New Zealand's native birds. Enjoy informative commentary and fascinating stories as you cruise past untouched Jurassic rainforest and 900-year-old Kahikatea trees. Sip on a cup of complimentary tea or coffee as you unwind in beautiful Glacier Country, a picture perfect way to escape the crowds and enjoy the West Coast’s scenery.

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Queenstown: Franz Josef Glacier Heli-Hike

5. Queenstown: Franz Josef Glacier Heli-Hike

Fly over the Southern Alps, home to over 3000 small glaciers. Visit Franz Josef Glacier on the western face of Aoraki/ Mt Cook or the Tasman Glacier on the east side. Enjoy the flexibility of seeing either glacier in case of poor weather conditions on your tour of choice. Check in on arrival at either the Franz Josef Glacier tour or Tasman Glacier tour and get to your helicopter. Have a safety briefing as your equipment is handed out. Go out to a deep part of the glacier via a scenic helicopter flight. Pass over the deep crevasses of the icefalls and waterfalls to land at the upper Franz Josef Icefall. Alternatively, take a scenic helicopter flight over the Tasman Terminal Lake to the Tasman Glacier. Be fitted with crampons for your trek out onto the glacier, exploring ices caves, and seeing the natural, ever-changing wonders of the South Island’s glaciers.

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Franz Josef Town: 3-Glacier Helicopter Ride with Landing

6. Franz Josef Town: 3-Glacier Helicopter Ride with Landing

Take in three of New Zealand’s most impressive glaciers during a helicopter ride. Land on the elevated landing site to take photos of the spectacular views. Meet at the local partner’s office to check in and attend a safety briefing. Then, following a transfer to a private hangar, you will meet your pilot and board the helicopter for takeoff. Put your headset on to listen to your pilot's guided commentary. Fly over the terminal moraine of the ancient Franz Josef Glacier and up the valley to see the big three from above. The Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are ice rivers that plug New Zealand's longest glacier: the Tasman Glacier. Take in their ice pinnacles and crevasses while flying amongst some of New Zealand’s biggest mountains. Admire Mount Cook in the impressive Southern Alps. Land on an elevated landing site to enjoy stunning views of Westland Tai Poutini National Park for 15 minutes. You will have plenty of time to take photos before returning to the hangar.

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Charleston: 4-Hour Nile River Cave and Tubing Adventure

7. Charleston: 4-Hour Nile River Cave and Tubing Adventure

Set off on a superb 4-hour adventure in the enormous Nile River Cave System deep in the untamed natural wilderness of the Paparoa National Park. Discover a hidden, special place on an award-winning adventure at its best. Meet your guide at the local partner’s adventure center in Charleston and get equipped with wet suits, wet suit socks, boots, gloves, and helmets. Dressed ready for your adventure, take a short ride on the Nile River Rainforest Train into the stunning West Coast rainforest. Marvel at the towering limestone cliffs that create a magical backdrop for your adventure. A short walk leads you to the cave entrances high above the Nile River. Leave the daylight behind and enter a hidden subterranean world to explore a calcite paradise of stalactites and stalagmites. Cross huge chambers, follow a maze of passages, and wander through the heart of an ancient multi-levelled cave system. Enriched with illustrations, explanations, and stories you will connect to the fragile, precious world as you descend to the bottom level of the cave where the water guides you to a magical galaxy of glowworms. Astounded by this underground night sky, slowly float on an underground river to emerge back into daylight using only the natural light of the awe-inspiring display of glowworms as navigation. Leave this special place floating in your tube down the fun, gentle rapids of the Nile River surrounded by the lush rainforest and beautiful limestone cliffs. Finally, returning on the Rainforest Train back to Charleston.

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Franz Josef: Kayak & Walking Tour to Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary

8. Franz Josef: Kayak & Walking Tour to Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary

Enjoy a scenic kayaking tour across Lake Mapourika and onto the ancient soils of the protected Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary. Begin your adventure by meeting your experienced team at the local partner's office in Franz Josef. Join them and your small group on a complimentary transfer out to Lake Mapourika. Head out onto the water and take in panoramic views of the Southern Alps, glaciers, and untouched Jurassic rainforest reflected on the glassy waters of Lake Mapourika. Paddle into the heart of the Okarito Kiwi Bird Sanctuary, exploring the protected area with your knowledgeable guide. Discover a prehistoric rainforest, abundant birdlife, and the home of the rarest Kiwi on the planet. Throughout your tour, enjoy complimentary tea and coffee. Enjoy multiple fantastic photo opportunities, and have your guide take complimentary photos of you as you paddle and hike to the sanctuary.

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Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers Helicopter Flight & Snow Landing

9. Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers Helicopter Flight & Snow Landing

Explore the ancient icefalls of the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers on a 30-minute helicopter flight. Experience the thrill of a snow landing with spectacular photo opportunities, and create unforgettable memories. Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers provides stunning ice architecture and are two of the few glaciers in the world which exist in such close proximity to both an ocean and a rainforest. Make your way to a central location in Franz Josef township, where you will check in for your flight. Strap yourself in to your seat and prepare for a once-in-a-lifetime ride, soaring above the pristine scenery for spectacular aerial views of the glaciers. Listen to engaging inflight commentary from your experienced pilot and admire the stunning frozen landscape below through the panoramic windows. Midway through the flight, your helicopter hovers above the ice and snow before making a thrilling snow landing at the summit of one of the glaciers. Step out onto the breathtaking, frozen landscape to soak in the views and capture some incredible photos. Then return to the helicopter for the flight back to base.

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Franz Josef Glacier: 2.25-Hour Hike with Helicopter Transfer

10. Franz Josef Glacier: 2.25-Hour Hike with Helicopter Transfer

Your journey starts at the glacier base in Franz Josef Town, where the friendly team will check you in. Get kitted out with the essential gear and listen to a safety briefing. Once you are ready, your guide will take you an on a short walk through native forest to the helipad to board the helicopter. After a thrilling scenic flight high above rugged terrain, land on Franz Josef Glacier and set off on 2.25-hour guided hike. With an eye for the most spectacular ice formations, your guide will lead you through some of the most awe-inspiring glacier scenery New Zealand has to offer. Each trip is tailored to the ability of your group, as well as the conditions on the day of your tour. During the hike, your guide will tell you stories about the local area and share their knowledge of the glacier and surrounding terrain. The glacier's features are constantly changing, so you might find yourself sliding through a narrow crevasse or between towering walls of ice, crawling through blue ice tunnels, hanging out in ice caves, or witnessing the glacier calving. You can be sure that you're seeing the glacier in a unique state and no two tours are ever quite the same. Your trip includes access to the Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools, where you'll relax after your adventure in the rejuvenating warmth of hot pools, intimately nestled in the lush native rainforest.

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Other Sightseeing Options in West Coast, South Island

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What people are saying about West Coast, South Island

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 170 reviews

After two days of the flight being cancelled because of the weather we were able to fly on the third day and had a marvellous flight right over Franz Joseph glacier, over the main divide, over the Tasman Glacier and landed to the east of Mount Cook. Spectacular views all round and good commentary from the pilot. Very pleased I chose a family company and fully recommend them to anyone wanting an excellent experience and much longer than advertised..

Beautiful cruise around the lake with excellent cruise operator Dale... Kept us entertained with informative and interesting area history and west coast lifestyle...friendly and welcoming personality..

Awesome first time experience with helicopter and the view from above of Franz josef glacier was amazing...

Awesome guides, company, amazing part of the world. The best way to see the mountains

Good communication, friendly staff, perfect weather, just a brilliant experience