West Coast, South Island
Hiking

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Our most recommended West Coast, South Island Hiking

Fox Glacier: 3-Hour Hike with Scenic Helicopter Transfer

1. Fox Glacier: 3-Hour Hike with Scenic Helicopter Transfer

Enjoy a thrilling heli-hiking experience on the Fox Glacier. Marvel at dramatic landscapes from above, including spectacular ice caves, icefalls and Victoria Falls, which is the melted river from the hidden Victoria glacier. Your landing site on the ice is a remote and exceptionally beautiful part of the glacier. At this stage, your guide outfits you with crampons, specially designed for ice conditions and you follow the ice steps cut by your guide as you explore the amazing formations and ice caves which are only seen here. Each departure is a truly unique experience as there are so many changing features, even the guides always find something new. Depending on the weather you will spend up to 3 hours on the ice before boarding your helicopter to return to the helicopter base.

Queenstown: Franz Josef Glacier Heli-Hike

2. 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.

Franz Josef Glacier: 2.5-Hour Hike with Helicopter Transfer

3. Franz Josef Glacier: 2.5-Hour Hike with Helicopter Transfer

Soar to Franz Josef Glacier and see this 12-kilometer-long behemoth from above on a roundtrip helicopter tour from Franz Josef. Touch down on the glacier and follow your guide on a guided hike. Take in dazzling ice formations and stay warm with winter clothing and snacks along the way. Start your journey at the glacier base in Franz Josef Town, where the team will check you in. Get kitted out with the essential gear and listen to a safety briefing. Once you are ready, follow your guide on a short walk through the 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 a 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.

Charleston: Fully Guided Glow Worm Cave Eco-Tour

4. Charleston: Fully Guided Glow Worm Cave Eco-Tour

Your adventure starts at the Charleston Base, where you will be equipped with a caving helmet and meet your cave guide. A short drive will take you into the tranquil rainforest covered limestone valley to board the Nile River Rainforest Train. Here, start your journey into the Paparoa National Park exploring one of its highly protected and unique features – ancient cave systems, fragile cave formations, twinkling glow worms – hidden below lush rainforest. On your short walk to the cave, enjoy the tranquil beauty of the native bush and leave the river bed to gain amazing views of the river below. Leaving daylight behind you, explore the enormous Nile River Caves System, seeing, feeling, and getting close to an ancient wonderland sculpted by water and decorated with fragile calcite formations. Underground, visit the Hall of Refugees and its breathtaking calcite formations before emerging back into daylight to the awe-inspiring Ananui entrance series. Exploring the lower level of the cave system, you will find a glow-in-the-dark night sky made of amazing galaxies of glow worms. Your guides will enrich your journey with captivating illustrations, explanations, and stories connecting you with this special place. After emerging back to the daylight, a short stroll leads you back to the train.

Greymouth: Full-Day Best Of The West Tour

5. Greymouth: Full-Day Best Of The West Tour

Start the tour with pickup from your accommodation in Greymouth. Set off along the famous Coast Road, rated one of the top 10 coastal drives in the world. First, stop at the Pancake Rocks, where the sea, winds, and massive geological change have shaped the landscape creating fascinating stacked limestone rocks and blowholes. This area is rated a must-do attraction when visiting the West Coast. Then, continue on to the Tree Top Walkway which offers the experience of walking amongst the treetops. This exhilarating adventure among temperate rain forest giants, high above ancient Rimu's and Kamahi trees offers a 20-meter high platform with a 450-meter-long walkway to explore and enjoy the views. Climb the 47-meter tower for a better view if you dare, and enjoy a refreshment at the local cafe. Admire beautiful views of majestic Lake Mahinapua while listening to the bird song. Finally, explore the famous Hokitika Gorge, a popular tourist spot that is known for its vibrant blue water and tranquil rain forest setting. This natural attractions is another must-do on the West Coast and is a great place to have a picnic or a swim to cool off in summer. At the end of your tour, return to Greymouth where your trip ends.

From Greymouth: Punakaiki Blowholes & Pancake Rocks Tour

6. 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.

Franz Josef: Franz Josef Glacier Lookout Guided Walk

7. Franz Josef: Franz Josef Glacier Lookout Guided Walk

Enjoy a relaxing small-group walking tour in the glacier valley to view the Franz Josef Glacier with an experienced local guide where you will learn about glaciers and the local nature, history, local stories & Maori legends. Get picked up from your accommodation and drive to the glacier carpark to begin your guided tour. Stroll through the tepid rainforest full of creeks, beautiful flora, fauna, and native trees. Discover hidden gems such as native snails, mushrooms, orchids, and birds, waterfalls & glowworms. During the walk, enjoy a cup of tea with a view, listen to the songs of the forest birds & chat with your guide.

Greymouth: Franz Josef Glacier & Wildlife Centre Guided Tour

8. Greymouth: Franz Josef Glacier & 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. The township of Franz Josef is 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 1.5 hours. 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. 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 returning back to Greymouth.

Fox Glacier: Half Day Walking & Nature Tour with Local Guide

9. Fox Glacier: Half Day Walking & Nature Tour with Local Guide

Walk through the lush historic glaciated rainforest in Westland Tai Poutini National Park, spotting the huge rata, rimu trees and moss. During the walk your guide will provide informative commentary on glaciation, geothermology geology, flora and fauna. Dip your hand into a geothermal spring to feel nature up close. Take in the views of upper Fox Glacier, Fox Neve, and Mount Tasman, one of New Zealand's highest mountains. Due to the location, you won't get up close to the terminal face of the glacier, this walk is predominantly focused on the stunning nature in the Fox Glacier Valley.  Upon completion of the walk, your guide will drop you back to your accommodation.

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

10. 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.

Frequently asked questions about West Coast, South Island Hiking

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What people are saying about West Coast, South Island

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 28 reviews

We had an absolute blast! Stretch was a fantastic guide and had us exploring so many cool areas of the glacier. He was great with our kids (big and small). This was a true bucket list adventure. Highly recommend it!

Very professionally run - everyone was super friendly and our guide Andrew was top notch. Knowledgeable, friendly with a great sense of humour. He made sure we had the best experience possible

Tour guide David was fantastic. Very knowledgeable and took us to locations off the main track for some amazing sights.

Great hike. A lot bush walking which we thoroughly enjoyed. Guide was very knowledge able and informative.

Photos and videos do no justice to this experience, it was truely breathtaking and worth every dollar!!