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Holidays on the West Coast of New Zealand's south island bring you face-to-face with majestic glaciers, primeval forests and extraordinary national parks. This sparsely populated region has some of the most beautiful wilderness on the planet.  

The Franz Jozef Glacier and Fox Glacier are a must for adventurous travellers. Over millennia these huge icy masses have carved a valley from solid rock. Unlike other glaciers around the world, the Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier are relatively easy to visit, being just a short distance from State Highway 6. Gazing on this majestic spectacle is a truly humbling experience. To walk them you can book a guided glacier tour in New Zealand, or charter a helicopter to see them from a bird’s eye perspective. 

West Coast and Glaciers holidays: true wilderness on the South Island

There are some charming towns to base yourself during a holiday to New Zealand’s glaciers and West Coast. 

Greymouth, a former centre for mining, is the largest. Visit the Brunner Mine Site to get to grips with its history, or head to beautiful Brunner Lake for fantastic fishing and kayaking. The TranzAlpine train from Christchurch, one of the world’s most scenic train rides, terminates here. 

Alternatively, Hokitika is a laid-back beach community with a creative vibe, while Haast and Reefton are quirky small towns with easy access to the Mount Aspiring National Park and the Victoria Forest Park respectively.

The main attraction for visitors to New Zealand’s West Coast are the pure landscapes of rainforests, rivers and caves. From Punakaiki's blowholes and pancake rocks, to mirror-clear Lake Matheson and beautiful Westland Tai Poutini National Park, there’s so much to see and endless scope for adventures along the way. 

Take a kayak out on the lakes, camp in the wild, or cycle the West Coast Wilderness Trail. The only limit is your imagination.

 

Destination Highlights

  • Marvel at the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers as they carve their way down to the sea
  • Experience New Zealand’s South Island hospitality in charming old frontier towns
  • Witness remarkable landscapes featuring mountains, rivers and forests in New Zealand’s most sparsely populated region
  • Hike, kayak or cycle amid the pristine wilderness and spectacular surroundings

Great sample itineraries


Get inspired by our selection of popular itineraries for holidays taking in New Zealand’s glaciers and West Coast. If you’d like to plan something special, speak to our Destination Specialists.

a man standing on top of a mountain

New Zealand Splendour

  • 23 Days
  • Guide Price £7,489 PP
Our New Zealand Splendour tour is ideal for travellers who love the outdoors and want to experience everything this vast...
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City holidays
Milford

Auckland To Christchurch Tour

  • 17 Days
  • Guide Price £6,495 PP
Set out on a New Zealand adventure and get a true taste for the country on an escorted New Zealand...
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Couples Holidays
Milford Sound Fiordland New Zealand

Multi Centre Holidays Australia New Zealand

  • 18 Days
  • Guide Price £5,929 PP
Our New Zealand voyage tour is the perfect way to discover everything these beautiful islands have hidden away. This 18-day...
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Multi centre holidays
a boat is docked next to a body of water

New Zealand Multi Centre Holidays

  • 19 Days
  • Guide Price £7,149 PP
Our luxury New Zealand tour allows you to see some of the country’s best sights in 19 days. It’s ideal...
View Multi Centre
Self drive holidays

Explore West Coast and Glacier

Time Zone

GMT +13

Flight Time

27 hours with a choice of stopover options

Currency

New Zealand Dollar (NZD)

Visa Information

British passport holders can visit for up to 6 months without a visa

Language

English

Best time to visit West Coast and Glacier

The South Island has a temperate climate, so tends to be colder on average than the subtropical North Island. The West Coast is famous for rain. Rainfall is lower from January to March, and temperatures are also at their warmest around this time, with average highs of 19.5°C. 

 

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Charlie, Destination Manager

“A must-see on your New Zealand West Coast holiday is the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks. They were formed over 30 million years ago and consist of awe-inspiring limestone stacks. If you want the best views, be sure to visit at high tide, when you’ll see the unique blowholes spray water.”

 

Charlie
Destination Manager
Lucy, Destination Specialist

“Road trippers should stop at the Junction Café and Honey Centre en route to Kumara Junction. You can take their bee tour and try delicious local honey.”

 

Lucy
Destination Specialist

Local Cuisine

Get a flavour of the local culture through your palate during your New Zealand West Coast holiday with a unique foodie experience.

 

Hokitika Wild Food Festival

Visit the Hokitika Wild Food Festival, which is held in March every year. Some of the delicious local cuisine on offer includes duck heads and scorpions. The faint-hearted can also enjoy gourmet sausages, whitebait fritters, and freshly smoked salmon. This is perfect for foodies on a West Coast New Zealand holiday. 

 

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