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Things to do in

West Coast, South Island

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

Franz Josef Glacier: 2.5-Hour Hike with Helicopter Transfer

1. 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. 

Franz Josef: Half-Day Glacier Helicopter and Hiking Tour

2. Franz Josef: Half-Day Glacier Helicopter and Hiking Tour

Get out into nature and experience the wilderness on this tour of the Franz Josef Glacier. Soar in the air in a helicopter, trek with glacier boots and crampons, and take in the fascinating colors of the ice flow. Meet at the Franz Josef Village base in the Westland National Park and hop into a helicopter. Fly up to the glacier and land on a section pre-checked for safety by your guide. Equipped with glacier boots and crampons, walk through ice formations and pinnacles for 2 hours. Touch the ice, breathe in the fresh air, and take note of the unique color of the glacier. Hike back to the helicopter and return to the base with a profound respect for nature.

Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers Helicopter Flight & Snow Landing

3. 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.

Queenstown: Spirit of Queenstown Lake Wakatipu Scenic Cruise

4. Queenstown: Spirit of Queenstown Lake Wakatipu Scenic Cruise

Cruise farther and see more on this 1.5-hour Queenstown scenic cruise. Sit back, relax and enjoy spectacular views of the Remarkables, Bob’s Cove, Cecil Peak and Mt. Earnslaw from the comfort of the Spirit of Queenstown – an environmentally friendly and luxurious cruise boat. Take in panoramic views from the open top deck. Enjoy refreshments, snacks and lunch served in the café on board. Cruise across spectacular Lake Wakatipu as you enjoy entertaining commentary provided by the local skipper.

Franz Josef Town: Glacier Helicopter Tour with Snow Landing

5. 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.

Queenstown: Franz Josef Glacier Heli-Hike

6. 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.

Hokitika: West Coast Treetop Walkway Entrance Ticket

7. 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.

Fox Glacier: Scenic Helicopter Flight with Snow Landing

8. Fox Glacier: Scenic Helicopter Flight with Snow Landing

Journey into the Southern Alps for this once in a lifetime helicopter flight over the Fox Glacier. Begin your adventure at the helicopter base in Fox Glacier Township, where you will be greeted by your expert team. As you take off in your helicopter, be amazed by the panoramic views over the town and surrounding landscapes before heading towards the Fox Glacier. As you draw closer to the picturesque mountains, fly over dramatic ice falls and deep crevasses before you descend for a snow landing. Here you will have an opportunity to take in your surroundings, breathe in the clean alpine air and take photos in this winter wonderland. When you are finished, join your pilot in the return flight back to the Fox Glacier Township.

Greymouth Monteith's Brewery 1-Hour Brewery Tour

9. Greymouth Monteith's Brewery 1-Hour Brewery Tour

Start your tour in the Beertopia Room which houses our very own Monteith's Museum. Get an introduction to the heritage and rich stories of the origins of Monteith's, starting in 1868 on the West Coast. Move into the brewery to see, touch, taste (if you're up for it) and smell New Zealand grown ingredients used to make craft beer. Take your time to walk through the brewhouse and packaging house as your expert guide talks you through the process involved with crafting the 150-year-old beer recipes. Receive video, visual and verbal prompts throughout the tour to help you to understand the various techniques and technical terms our brewers are so familiar with. End the tour with a lesson on how to achieve the 'perfect pour'. For those over 18, pour yourself your very own tap beer, taste and enjoy.

Franz Josef Town: 3-Glacier Helicopter Ride with Landing

10. 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 snow 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 snow 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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What people are saying about West Coast, South Island

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 529 reviews

My partner and I enjoyed the trip even though it was raining and we didn't get to see the reflections on the lake. Our tour guide Dale [donkey] was full knowledge about history. Well worth doing for sure

It was an excellent experience with staff and captain Darren being extremely friendly and helpful. The scenic view was amazing and it was a fantastic experience. We will definitely be back.

Great scenic cruise. Excellent customer service. The views are sensational. We also had the wine and cheese option which was very nice. Highly recommend this scenic cruise.

This definitely is a must, You Learn a lot of history behind queenstown and the mountains which are beautiful

Beautiful day and all the staff was very friendly and informative