The Greenwood Guide to New Zealand
West Coast, New Zealand

Kids in West Coast, New Zealand

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Underworld Adventures

Charleston

Adventure activities

The west coast of the South Island may not be as internationally renowned for its caves as North Island’s Waitomo Caves, but I can assure you (after unskilfully squeezing through a couple myself) that Charleston has more than its fair share of sub-terrarium landscapes. Charleston Underworld Adventures presents cave-rafting in style. Kitted-out in a designer wetsuit and bum planted firmly in an inflatable tube, you bob merrily along the Nile River through a calcitic wonderland of stalactites and stalagmites before drifting below a canvas of glowworms. For those averse to getting wet you can take the dry-footed eco-tour or jump on the rainforest train for a unique look at the pre-historic Nile Valley landscape.

Underworld Adventures
  • Prices: Underworld Rafting $135, Charleston GloWorm Cave Tour $80, Adventure Caving $270, Nile River Rainforest Train $20.
  • Contact: The Charleston Hotel, State Highway 6, Charleston, West Coast
  • Tel: 03-788-8168 or freephone 0800-116-686 (within New Zealand)
  • Fax: 03-789-5508
  • Email: norwest@orcon.net.nz
  • Web: www.caverafting.com
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Franz Josef Glacier Guides

Franz Josef

Adventure activities

Hands-down, my absolute favourite experience in New Zealand! I longed to be able to go up again the very next day (ice queen is clearly my calling in life). Utterly breathtaking views down the glacier valley, across Lake Mapourika and to the far sea. And the glacier itself: a winter-wonderland adventure playground of ice crevasses, tunnels and staircases. Our guide was knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and with a mean swing to that ice pick. I guarantee you a spectacular experience in the safest of hands.

Franz Josef Glacier Guides
  • Prices: Full day: adult $140, child $120. 3/4 day: adult $130, child $120. 1/2 day: adult $90, child $80.
  • Contact: SH6, Main Road, Franz Josef Glacier
  • Tel: 03-752-0763; 0800 GUIDES (within New Zealand)
  • Fax: 03-752-0102
  • Email: walks@franzjosefglacier.com
  • Web: www.franzjosefglacier.com
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Glacier Valley Eco Tours

Franz Josef

Adventure activities

There’s no need for shackles, crampons, ice picks (or wobbly nerves) on Mike and Julie’s more sedate tours of the impressive Fox and Franz glaciers. Walk through primeval, regenerated forest for your first glimpse of these incredible hunks of ice and learn all about the glaciation, geology and natural history of their dynamic environment. They also do trips out kayaking in lagoons and rainforest tramps around photo-friendly ‘mirrored’ Lake Matheson.

Glacier Valley Eco Tours
  • Prices: Eco-tours at Franz Josef Glacier 3 hrs, adult $60, child $30; Fox Glacier, 3 hrs adult $65, child $32.50; Lake Matheson, 3.5 hrs, adult $65, child $32.50. Okarito Sea Kayaking, $300 for half day. Under 15's half price, under 5's go free.
  • Contact: Franz Josef, West Coast
  • Tel: 03-752-0699
  • Fax: 03-752-0690
  • Email: mike@glaciervalley.co.nz
  • Web: www.glaciervalley.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Flowing West Movie

Franz Josef

Cinemas

Need a wet day activity? Look no further… the Flowing West Movie is a 20-minute armchair ride through glacier country. This visual journey is the next best thing to a helicopter flight, so if you suffer from motion sickness, are a little strapped for cash, or you just want a good spurt of entertainment it’s well worth the tiny entrance fee. Helicopter rides:

  • Prices: Tickets: $10 adult, $5 child.
  • Contact: Alpine Adventure Centre, Main Road, Franz Josef
  • Tel: 0800-800-793
  • Fax: 03-752-0764
  • Email: fox_heli@xtra.co.nz
  • Web: www.scenic-flights.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Shantytown

Greymouth

Cultural tours

This faithfully-restored replica of an 1860’s West Coast gold mining town is a living monument to the hardy pioneers who forded the wildly exotic rivers and streams, and scrambled through the rugged sub-tropical rainforest in search of their fortunes. Shantytown provides a ‘real’ sense of what it was like to live in New Zealand both during and after the dynamic great rush. Share in the early New Zealanders' experiences - ride on a steam train, pan for gold (guaranteed strike!), quench your thirst in The Golden Nugget Saloon and visit the confectionary store to try its original boiled lollies.

  • Prices: Adults entry with gold-panning $20 (without gold-panning $16), student (13 - 17 yrs) $12, children (5 - 12 yrs) $10.00. Concessions and family passes available. All tickets include a steam train ride, student and children's tickets include gold-panning.
  • Contact: 11km south of Greymouth off SH 6, Rutherglen Road, Paroa, Greymouth
  • Tel: 03-762-6634
  • Fax: 03-762-6649
  • Email: info@shantytown.co.nz
  • Web: www.shantytown.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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West Coast Highlights

  • Drive the beautiful coastal route from Westport to Haast; it's quite rightly considered one of world's most extraordinary drives. Stop off to stretch your legs at Punakaiki and walk to see the Pancake Rocks and its blowholes.
  • Try black-water rafting in the glowworm grotto of Charleston caves near Westport.
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