Things to do in
West Coast, South Island

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

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.

Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers Helicopter Flight & Snow Landing

2. 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.

Franz Josef Town: Glacier Helicopter Tour with Snow Landing

3. 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.

Franz Josef Town: 3-Glacier Helicopter Ride with Landing

4. 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.

Franz Josef Glacier: 2.5-Hour Hike with Helicopter Transfer

5. Franz Josef Glacier: 2.5-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.

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.

Franz Josef: Helicopter Trip over Two Glaciers

9. Franz Josef: Helicopter Trip over Two Glaciers

See two of New Zealand’s biggest glaciers — the Franz Josef and Fox or Tasman glaciers with uninterrupted views from a helicopter. Fly amongst the Southern Alps, admiring the ice pinnacles and canyons whilst learning about the awesome spectacle from your professional guide. After you check-in and have a safety briefing, you will be transferred to a private hanger, where you will meet your pilot and guide and board the helicopter. You will be provided headsets in order to hear your guide’s commentary. You will have the opportunity to stop and explore by foot at an elevated snow landing site for 15 minutes, perfect for taking photos.

Franz Josef Glacier: 2-Hour Scenic Lake Mapourika Cruise

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

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 176 reviews

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.

It was a great experience. Very friendly family owned operated business. Pilot was very good, took great photos

Our tour guide was helpful, knowledgeable & friendly. Both places were well worth visiting.

Great value, incredible experience, up there in the top 10 around NZ

Good value for ticket price, great guides and an awesome experience