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West Coast, South Island

Cave tours

Our most recommended West Coast, South Island Cave Tours

Franz Josef Glacier: 2.5-Hour Hike with Helicopter Transfer

1. Franz Josef Glacier: 2.5-Hour Hike with Helicopter Transfer

Soar to Franz Josef Glacier and see this 12-kilometer-long behemoth from above on a roundtrip helicopter tour from Franz Josef. Touch down on the glacier and follow your guide on a guided hike. Take in dazzling ice formations and stay warm with winter clothing and snacks along the way.  Start your journey at the glacier base in Franz Josef Town, where the team will check you in. Get kitted out with the essential gear and listen to a safety briefing. Once you are ready, follow your guide on a short walk through the native forest to the helipad to board the helicopter. After a thrilling scenic flight high above rugged terrain, land on Franz Josef Glacier and set off on a 2.25-hour guided hike. With an eye for the most spectacular ice formations, your guide will lead you through some of the most awe-inspiring glacier scenery New Zealand has to offer.  Each trip is tailored to the ability of your group, as well as the conditions on the day of your tour. During the hike, your guide will tell you stories about the local area and share their knowledge of the glacier and surrounding terrain. The glacier's features are constantly changing, so you might find yourself sliding through a narrow crevasse or between towering walls of ice, crawling through blue ice tunnels, hanging out in ice caves, or witnessing the glacier calving. 

Queenstown: Franz Josef Glacier Heli-Hike

2. Queenstown: Franz Josef Glacier Heli-Hike

Fly over the Southern Alps, home to over 3000 small glaciers. Visit Franz Josef Glacier on the western face of Aoraki/ Mt Cook or the Tasman Glacier on the east side. Enjoy the flexibility of seeing either glacier in case of poor weather conditions on your tour of choice. Check in on arrival at either the Franz Josef Glacier tour or Tasman Glacier tour and get to your helicopter. Have a safety briefing as your equipment is handed out. Go out to a deep part of the glacier via a scenic helicopter flight. Pass over the deep crevasses of the icefalls and waterfalls to land at the upper Franz Josef Icefall. Alternatively, take a scenic helicopter flight over the Tasman Terminal Lake to the Tasman Glacier. Be fitted with crampons for your trek out onto the glacier, exploring ices caves, and seeing the natural, ever-changing wonders of the South Island’s glaciers.

Charleston: 4-Hour Nile River Cave and Tubing Adventure

3. Charleston: 4-Hour Nile River Cave and Tubing Adventure

Set off on a superb 4-hour adventure in the enormous Nile River Cave System deep in the untamed natural wilderness of the Paparoa National Park. Discover a hidden, special place on an award-winning adventure at its best. Meet your guide at the local partner’s adventure center in Charleston and get equipped with wet suits, wet suit socks, boots, gloves, and helmets. Dressed ready for your adventure, take a short ride on the Nile River Rainforest Train into the stunning West Coast rainforest. Marvel at the towering limestone cliffs that create a magical backdrop for your adventure. A short walk leads you to the cave entrances high above the Nile River. Leave the daylight behind and enter a hidden subterranean world to explore a calcite paradise of stalactites and stalagmites. Cross huge chambers, follow a maze of passages, and wander through the heart of an ancient multi-levelled cave system. Enriched with illustrations, explanations, and stories you will connect to the fragile, precious world as you descend to the bottom level of the cave where the water guides you to a magical galaxy of glowworms. Astounded by this underground night sky, slowly float on an underground river to emerge back into daylight using only the natural light of the awe-inspiring display of glowworms as navigation. Leave this special place floating in your tube down the fun, gentle rapids of the Nile River surrounded by the lush rainforest and beautiful limestone cliffs. Finally, returning on the Rainforest Train back to Charleston.

Charleston: Fully Guided Glow Worm Cave Eco-Tour

4. Charleston: Fully Guided Glow Worm Cave Eco-Tour

Your adventure starts at the Charleston Base, where you will be equipped with a caving helmet and meet your cave guide. A short drive will take you into the tranquil rainforest covered limestone valley to board the Nile River Rainforest Train. Here, start your journey into the Paparoa National Park exploring one of its highly protected and unique features – ancient cave systems, fragile cave formations, twinkling glow worms – hidden below lush rainforest. On your short walk to the cave, enjoy the tranquil beauty of the native bush and leave the river bed to gain amazing views of the river below. Leaving daylight behind you, explore the enormous Nile River Caves System, seeing, feeling, and getting close to an ancient wonderland sculpted by water and decorated with fragile calcite formations. Underground, visit the Hall of Refugees and its breathtaking calcite formations before emerging back into daylight to the awe-inspiring Ananui entrance series. Exploring the lower level of the cave system, you will find a glow-in-the-dark night sky made of amazing galaxies of glow worms. Your guides will enrich your journey with captivating illustrations, explanations, and stories connecting you with this special place. After emerging back to the daylight, a short stroll leads you back to the train.

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What people are saying about West Coast, South Island

Spectacular place to visit. We were lucky with the weather-radiant sun from a cloudless sky. Very well organized without any delays. Very high ambitions when it comes to personal safety gave us a safe feeling both during the helicopter ride and during the actual walk through the glacier

Very professionally run - everyone was super friendly and our guide Andrew was top notch. Knowledgeable, friendly with a great sense of humour. He made sure we had the best experience possible

Was absolutely incredible. Would highly recommend spending the extra money and getting the plane up to the Heli-Hike experience!

Great value, incredible experience, up there in the top 10 around NZ

Good value for ticket price, great guides and an awesome experience