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Mount Cook, New Zealand

New Zealand's West Coast & Southern Alps

Magnificent mountains & mighty glaciers

New Zealand tailor-made holidays

Introduction

Extreme climate and extreme geography are the hallmarks of the west coast of New Zealand, a narrow strip of land hemmed in by the Tasman Sea and the Southern Alps. It's a region of lofty mountains and mighty glaciers, which, over aeons, have sculpted the land into dramatic formations, creating a wild and beautiful landscape that provides the backdrop to some truly epic experiences.

Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers

These enormous glaciers form the centrepiece of the Westland National Park and are two fo the west coast's biggest crowd-pullers. Indeed, they are among the finest examples of glaciology in the world. When the clouds are heavy, the landscape can seem sullen, moody even, but when the sun shines the ice sparkles and guided walks and scenic flights take in their dazzling beauty. Franz Josef is the larger of the two, but Fox is no less dramatic, though the village at its base has fewer hotels and restaurants than its sibling. You'll need a guide to walk or climb either glacier, but it's a truly memorable experience to strap on some crampons and make your way through across vast crevasses and through arches of blue ice.


Franz Josef Glacier

Greymouth & Arthur's Pass

Greymouth is the west coast's largest town and was an important port during the gold rush and mining boom. Today, old photos and memorabilia in the History House Museum reveal the region's mining and nautical past, while Shantytown – a recreation of an 19th-century mining settlement – offer visitors the chance to learn about prospecting and try gold panning for themselves. Greymouth also marks one end of the TranzAlpine railway and the Great Alpine Highway, both of which connect Christchurch to the west coast. No matter which mode of transport you opt for, you'll be treated to some of New Zealand's most dramatic scenery, the best of which can be found at the 920-metre-high Arthur's Pass.


Tranz-Alpine train to Greymouth

Lake Tekapo

Tekapo is Maori for 'night sleeping place', and the night sky here is one of the most spectacular in New Zealand, due in no small part to the remoteness and lack of artificial light. On clear night, huge numbers of stars can be seen with the naked eye, but a stargazing evening at Mount John Observatory is an even more magical experience. In the daytime, things are just as impressive, with the lake's turquoise waters reflecting the snow-clad peaks of the Southern Alps and the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd – one of the most photographed spots in New Zealand. 


Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo

Mount Cook National Park

New Zealand's tallest peak forms the centrepiece of Mount Cook National Park in the South Island's mountainous central region. The 3,754-metre peak was the training ground for Everest pioneer Sir Edmund Hillary before his successful climb of the world's highest mountain in 1953. Today, it provides a stunning backdrop to a host of walking trails, while scenic flights and, in the winter, heli-skiing are also popular options.


Mount Cook National Park

 

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Top itineraries in New Zealand's West Coast & Southern Alps

Queenstown, New Zealand

Highlights of New Zealand

19-day tailor-made self-drive from £3,085 pp incl. flights

With boutique hotel stays and car hire included throughout, this curated road trip perfectly showcases the unique cultures and natural wonders of New Zealand's North and South islands.

Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound

Best of the South Island

13-day tailor-made self-drive & rail journey from £3,125 pp incl. flights

Discover New Zealand's South Island, bringing all to life with an included glacier heli-hike, an overnight Doubtful Sound cruise and a journey on the iconic TranzAlpine train.

Port Douglas beach, Queensland, Australia

Australia and New Zealand Discoverer

21-day tailor-made journey from £4,380 pp incl. flights

This tailor-made holiday combines the best that Australia and New Zealand have to offer. You'll explore New Zealand's world-famous glaciers and remote fjords with a self-drive before discovering Australia's sacred Ayers Rock, stunning beaches and delightful waterside cities.

Rotorua, New Zealand

Cultural Highlights of New Zealand

19-day tailor-made self-drive from £3,345 pp incl. flights

A tip-to-toe tour of New Zealand, taking in the best of its landscapes and culture, and calling into filming locations from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

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Top places to stay in New Zealand's West Coast & Southern Alps

Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki Rainforest Room

Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki

Small & intimate eco-accommodation

Explore an untouched landscape with naturalist guides while staying at a wilderness retreat where nature takes centre stage.

The Hermitage in summer, New Zealand

The Hermitage, Mt. Cook

Historic hotel

This is accommodation as daring as its 19th century founders, looking up at snow-covered Mt. Cook and featuring a full range of exploratory activities.

Te Waonui Forest Retreat aerial view, New Zealand

Te Waonui Forest Retreat

Contemporary eco-accommodation

The cutting edge modernity of this luxury retreat’s architectural lines does little to take away from the stunning greenery of its rainforest setting.

Distinction Fox Glacier exterior, New Zealand

Distinction Fox Glacier Hotel

Small & intimate hotel

Poised to explore one of New Zealand’s most spectacular natural attractions, this is an excellent, comfortable choice.

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When to go to New Zealand's West Coast & Southern Alps

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Meet our New Zealand's West Coast & Southern Alps experts

Speak to a tailor-made specialist on 020 7590 0614

Meet the team

Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0614 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

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