Westland Tai Poutini National Park - Christchurch
Franz Josef Village is also where you'll find the i-Site Visitor Centre for the Westland Tai Poutini National Park.
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Directions to Westland Tai Poutini National Park
One of New Zealand's wildest national parks, offering glaciers, dense rainforest, hot springs and remote beaches. Home to the famous Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers.
Westland Tai Poutini National Park is situated on the midwestern coast of the South Island, and forms part of the Te Wahipounamu South Westland World Heritage Site. Bordering the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, to the east, this is one of the most untamed, but beautiful, parts of the world; 111,000 square kilometres of snow-capped mountains, lakes, lagoons, inaccessible forest and inhospitable coastline.
The best way to get the full Westland experience, is to sign up to one of the scenic plane or helicopter flightseeing packages, which will treat you to a real bird's eye view of this dangerous, yet compelling landscape, as well as whisk you right down into the gorges and hidden valleys that remain hidden to anybody on the ground. The coastal wetlands and lagoons are magnets for grebes and herons, whilst further inland, if you can get there, lives the rowi, New Zealand's rarest kiwi.
Most visitors here will want to visit the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, and you can explore the region yourself or, as is advisable, join a guided tour from either of the Glaciers' eponymous villages, where you'll also find plenty of good hotel, motel and camping accommodation, as well as luxurious hot springs, day spas and water parks.
The lowlands, further inland, near the Alpine Fault, offer pleasant forest walks as well as plenty of wildlife-spotting and tramping around Waikukupa State Forest and Okarito State Forest. For a proper rollercoaster ride, the park provides ample opportunity to go skydiving, if your nerves will let you.
But if you're not a mountaineer, glacier hiker, abseiler or eager parachutist, you might wonder what else there is to do in this vast adventure playground. Fear not, as one of the most popular activities, for all ages, is gold-prospecting. This area was once teeming with gold-mining villages, thanks to the abundance of precious metal found here. The gold rush days might be over, but you're still highly likely to turn up a few shiny nuggets if you join one of the organised expeditions around Waiho River Bridge.
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