New Zealand has a dynamic duo of glaciers, which are easily accessed and provide a fascinating and unique holiday experience.

Nowhere else in the world, at this latitude, do glaciers flow down into a temperate rainforest so close to sea level.

Fox Glacier was named after an early New Zealand Prime Minister. It is fed from a catchment of four high alpine glaciers, and like Franz Josef Glacier it falls around 2,500 metres in 13 km. The terminal face is a short drive from the township of Fox and is reached via a riverbed walk from the road end.

Scenic flights and tandem skydives over Fox Glacier take you far above everyday life and on a day of clear blue skies, will be an unforgettable highlight of your trip. Alpine guides offer enthralling exploration trips on the tortuous ice flow, including half and full-day walks, heli-hikes and ice climbing instruction.

Spectacular views are attainable at ground level by taking short valley walks like the Glacier Valley Viewpoint and Fox Glacier Walk. At a higher elevation the dramatic landscape is really ‘in your face’. Take the Chalet Lookout Walk to an historic viewpoint that was once the main access route to the glacier. The surface is now an incredible hundred metres below you. The Mt Fox Track is a challenging climb to a realm where falcons fly.

Only 6 km from Fox township is Lake Matheson, the jewel in the crown of New Zealand’s scenic icons. Early morning is the best time for unsurpassed views of Mts Cook and Tasman, reflected in the mirror-like lake surface. Drive to Gillespie’s Beach to visit the seal colony and view the jagged white peaks of the main divide.

Take time to explore the lakes, rivers, forests and beach areas around Fox. They were shaped and moulded by ancient ice age glaciers that rumbled across the coastal plain, to be claimed by the Tasman Sea. Rock debris and sediment locked in their icy embrace was swept up the coast to form the 30 km long Farewell Spit at the South Island’s northern tip.

Enjoy the remarkable Fox landscape – it’s a geological marvel.

The Wild West Coast: The West Coast of the Southern Alps

  • Charleston West Coast New Zealand

    Charleston

    Visiting the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island is always a unique experience filled with many wonders. On this occasion we stayed in the small community of Charleston. Charleston was founded during a major gold rush in 1867 and the remains of around 99 hotels have recently been discovered.

  • Jet-Boat Safaris

    Jet-boat Safaris

    Slide into your seat, buckle yourself in, grip the handrail and wait for the adrenalin to flow. Later when the driver says ‘Hold on" respond quickly before he executes a white-knuckle jet-spin.

    These simple instructions are all you require to enjoy a uniquely New Zealand experience - jet-boating on the wild West Coast rivers.

  • Franz Josef Glacier Walking

    Glacier Walking

    Take a hike on a massive river of ice sliding inexorably down the precipitous slopes of the Southern Alps.

    Glacier walking is one of New Zealand’s top attractions. Experienced guides can lead you into an alien world of blue-tinged ice caves, seracs and pinnacles on the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers on the South Island’s West Coast.

  • Franz Josef Glacier

    Franz Josef Glacier

    Welcome to the heart of Glacier Country - the township of Franz Josef - nestling at the foot of the Southern Alps.

    Feel the buzz of excitement as coach loads of expectant tourists are whisked away from the Alpine Adventure Centre, and aerial sightseers soar skywards in a whirl of rotor blades, bound for Mt Cook.

  • Fox Glacier

    Fox Glacier

    New Zealand has a dynamic duo of glaciers, which are easily accessed and provide a fascinating and unique holiday experience.

    Nowhere else in the world, at this latitude, do glaciers flow down into a temperate rainforest so close to sea level.

  • The Hokitika Wild Foods Festival

    Wild Foods Festival

    What do you fancy as an appetiser? Was that whitebait or worm patties, huhu grub sushi or battered snails?

    You will be spoiled with choices at the Hokitika Wild Foods Festival, a culinary celebration of the Kiwi's innovative ability to ‘live off the natural resources of the land and sea’.

  • Southern Alps Passes

    Southern Alps Passes

    The fun of a West Coast holiday begins with a journey through the Southern Alps.

    A 600 km long, incredibly straight wall of mountains locks the Coast into an exclusive climate zone and eco-system. Ancient Maori greenstone (jade) trails were the only land links with the rest of New Zealand 150 years ago.

  • West Coast Okarito Lagoon

    Okarito Lagoon

    Be sure to visit New Zealand’s only white heron (kotuku) nesting colony. It’s a neat experience observing these magnificent birds, which are supremely graceful and elegant in all their movements.

    The colony of 150 white herons, royal spoonbills and little shags is found in the Waitangiroto Nature Reserve.

  • West Coast Shantytown

    Shantytown

    Virtually every rock-bound riverbed yields secrets of heritage gold diggings. Fossick in the loose gravels of any tumbling mountain stream on the Coast and you have a good prospect of winning a small ‘colour’.

    Visitors to the West Coast can have a personal experience of the 1860’s gold rush days at Shantytown.

  • Greenstone Pounamu (Jade)

    Greenstone (Jade)

    The ‘Stone of the Gods’ was literally fashioned as the offspring of volcanoes, earthquakes and uplifted mountains.

    Greenstone, or ‘pounamu’ was prominent in ancient Maori mythology because of its vital importance as the medium for tool and weapon making.

  • White Water Rafting

    White Water Rafting

    Pull on a wetsuit and helmet, then launch your raft onto a fast-flowing river for the spine-tingling, heart-pounding ride of a lifetime.

    The wild West Coast has numerous short, steep rivers descending from the high country in the Southern Alps.

  • West Coast Skydiving

    Skydiving

    Freefalling at terminal velocity from a massive 19,500 feet over West Coast Glacier Country makes you feel alive in a spine-tingling, hair-raising sort of way.

    This is tandem skydiving at its heart thumping best. An adrenalin buzz with the added bonus of breathtaking views of the Southern Alps.

  • Punakaiki Pancake Rocks

    Punakaiki Pancake Rocks

    Stop and marvel at the perfect pancake rock stacks, which are piled high in giant columns and battered by ocean swells. Wonder at the seismic forces that thrust these mysteries of nature up from the seabed.

    Punakaiki is the gateway to the dramatic limestone country of the Paparoa National Park.

  • Tranz Alpine Express

    Tranz Alpine Express

    Riding the ‘Iron Road’ is a very romantic and exciting way to travel into West Coast Glacier Country.

    New Zealand’s most scenic railway line runs coast to coast from Christchurch to Greymouth, and is one of the world’s great railway journeys.

  • West Coast South Island Oparara Cave

    Oparara Cave

    Hidden deep in the silent grottos of Oparara’s Honeycomb Caves are spellbinding limestone sculptures and slender skeletons of extinct creatures like the moa and giant eagle.

    But there’s still life in the darkest recesses of this alien world. A glow worm galaxy shimmers on the ceiling of the cave.

  • West Coast South Island Flights

    Scenic Flights

    Step inside the perspex bubble of a sightseeing helicopter and rise like a phoenix into the bright shafts of sunlight falling on Glacier Country.

    The West Coast hills are alive with the sound of rotor blades thwacking through the crisp alpine air. And with good reason.

  • West Coast South Island

    The Wild West Coast

    Welcome to the wild and wonderful West Coast of the South Island. The New Zealand Information Network has highlighted a number of ‘must see’ attractions to assist you in planning a great holiday in this fascinating part of the country.