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West Coast, South Island

Birdwatching

Our most recommended West Coast, South Island Birdwatching

Franz Josef Glacier: 2-Hour Scenic Lake Mapourika Cruise

1. 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.

Franz Josef Glacier: 2.5-Hour Lake Mapourika Cruise and Walk

2. Franz Josef Glacier: 2.5-Hour Lake Mapourika Cruise and Walk

Begin your adventure at the meeting point in Franz Josef to join your small group and transfer out to Lake Mapourika with your guide. Cruise across the lake in the comfort of the boat and enjoy a stunning vista of Southern Alps and glaciers. On a clear day enjoy views as far as Mount Cook.   Sit back as you arrive into the calm estuary of the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary. Your local knowledgeable skipper will provide you with exclusive access and will guide you through a private rainforest trail.   Follow your skipper through the Jurassic rainforest track and get local insight on the region. Spot native birds as you find your way to the scenic lookout, the perfect spot for a cup or tea or coffee made on the spot.

Greymouth: Glacier, Heritage & Wildlife Centre Guided Tour

3. Greymouth: Glacier, Heritage & Wildlife Centre Guided Tour

Departing from Greymouth, you will enjoy a scenic drive South, following the coastline with ocean views before heading inland to reach your destination of Franz Josef. On the way you will stop at West Coast Tree Top Walkway, an exhilarating Treetop Adventure among temperate rain forest giants. Experience life with the birds, high in the ancient Rimu and Kamahi tree canopy. Easy access for all to enjoy along a steel platform 20 metres high and over 450 metres long. Climb the tower to reach great views for photography of the surrounding lake and mountain range. Next stop is calling into Ross Goldfields Information & Heritage Centre, a one-stop spot for gold mining history and regional information. The centre boasts a small museum where a replica of NZ’s largest gold nugget The Hon Roddy resides. This was uncovered at Ross in 1909. Please note the information centre is not always open and accessible. Reaching the township of Franz Josef, a popular tourist hot spot with thousands visiting the town to view the famous Franz Josef Glacier. Walk up to the glacier along a marked track called the Valley Walk, following the river bed. The trek will take approximately 30 to 45 minutes return. Allowing you to view the Glacier from a distance for safety. On your return to Franz Josef, you will visit the Wildlife Centre. Home to two of New Zealand’s native birds, the Rowi Kiwi and the Tuatara, the centre also hosts an interactive exhibit on the glacier so you can learn more about the history of the area. There is also a souvenir gift shop and cafe onsite. In Franz Josef there will be free time to buy lunch and look around the town before heading to Okarito, the gem of South Westland. Ōkārito is a small coastal settlement on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. It is built at the southern end of the Ōkārito Lagoon at the mouth of the Ōkārito River. Boosting native New Zealand bird life and strong history of gold and timber. Visit the information heritage centre on the wharf to take in the lagoon and learn more about the wild history of Okarito. From here you will return back to Greymouth. PLEASE NOTE: It is important that you contact us first before booking if only one person as the tour requires two people for it to operate and we may not have a second person booked on at the time of your booking which would incur an additional per person fee. Please contact us directly to ensure tour is proceeding for the date you have chosen if a single person.

Franz Josef: Kayak & Walking Tour to Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary

4. 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.

Franz Josef: Half-Day Guided Tour to Okarito

5. Franz Josef: Half-Day Guided Tour to Okarito

Get off the beaten track and explore one of New Zealand's hidden gems on this half-day tour. Learn about the history of the old gold mining township of Okarito from your knowledgeable guide. Start your adventure in Franz Josef Township, where you will meet your guide and the rest of your group before departing on a 25-minute drive down the highway to reach Okarito. You will then head out on a walk to admire the stunning landscapes. Take in spectacular views of the mountains and glaciers of New Zealand's West Coast and take pictures as you go.  Experience unique bird & wildlife sightings throughout the tour, and if you're lucky you may get a chance to see dolphins. Your guide will do their best to tailor this walk to your interests. If you like photography, there is an opportunity to stop at the world-renowned Andris Apse photography gallery.

West Coast: Eco River Safari in UNESCO World Heritage Area

6. West Coast: Eco River Safari in UNESCO World Heritage Area

With your local guides who were previously commercial pilots, travel to the top of the river and listen to informative commentary with multiple photography stops. At the top head out on an optional walk, good for all ages. View the untouched scenery of mountains and ancient rainforest. Enjoy local morning tea and a chance to take in the whole surrounding area with stunning photo opportunities. Then you'll have a speedy trip down to the Tasman Sea, finishing in a side stream to visit the whitebait breeding grounds. If your group is 6 people or over, you will enjoy a BBQ meal at the end of the tour, with whitebait, crayfish, venison, salads and refreshments.

Frequently asked questions about West Coast, South Island Birdwatching

What are other things to do than Birdwatching that are worth visiting in West Coast, South Island?

The other unmissable things to do in West Coast, South Island are:

Other Sightseeing Options in West Coast, South Island

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What people are saying about West Coast, South Island

The cruise was nice and perfectly relaxing. Looking back the alpine background as you paddle towards the peninsula gives a unique tranquility base. The guide is very knowlegeable about the wildlife and the environment. I would not have appreciated a lot of local knowledge and fieldcraft survival if she did not show us. The guide looked after not only our comfort and safety but also in making sure the whole trip was recorded in digital photo without a charge. It very unique experience worth the time and the price.

Outstanding! On a perfect day we enjoyed the cruise and beauty of Lake Mapourika while learning of its history and natural surroundings. Magnificent views of the mountains and glaciers were mirrored in the serene waters. Jake was interesting and informative. Just do it! A photo album of wonderful memories.

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..

Friendly guide and very familiar with the formation of the lake, as well as flora and fauna. Pleasant cruise to discover century-old trees, birds nesting around (great white heron) To try

Our guide was excellent, we were a small group and everything was explained to us.