the backdrop of the mighty Southern Alps, clear rivers and lakes, vast podocarp forests,
coastal forests, diverse wetlands, accessible glaciers and wild beaches, the West Coast of
Zealand is a wonderland of natural features just waiting to be explored.
Located on the West Coast of the South Island in the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area, Glacier Country encompasses the mighty Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, the rainforest of Westland National Park, the world famous mirrored Lake Matheson and the unique wildlife areas of the coastal Okarito Lagoon, Gillespies Beach and Bruce Bay.
Geographically isolated from the rest of New Zealand by the Southern Alps, West Coast locals
developed a distinctive culture of their own. Known as ‘Coasters’, they are
renowned for their pioneering values of self-reliance, friendliness, loyalty and
Maori were the first to discover the West Coast, seeking sacred pounamu (nephrite jade / greenstone) to make tools, ornaments, jewellery and weapons. The 1860’s gold rush brought Europeans to the area, many of whom stayed on to start farming, forestry and business enterprises.
Fed by permanent snowfields high above in Southern Alps, Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, vast twin rivers of ice, have gouged their way through temperate rainforest to almost sea level, making them amongst the easiest to see in the world.