Nature and conservation
Fox Glacier/Te Moeka o Tuawe from Mount Fox
Westland Tai Poutini National Park was established in 1960. Split by the Alpine Fault, it is a place of dramatic contrasts.
To the east of the fault mountains rise suddenly, and steep forested slopes are cut deeply with impassable gorges.
High above, permanent snowfields feed a myriad of glaciers, including Fox Glacier/Te Moeka o Tuawe and Franz Josef Glacier/Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere, which descend right down to the lowlands.
Dense rainforest covers the lowlands west of the fault. Nearer the coast, there are scenic lakes, wetlands and wide river mouths.
Wading birds and other water-loving creatures thrive in the wetlands around the coast. The threatened kāmana/crested grebe, can be found on Lake Māpōurika, and Ōkārito Lagoon is famous for the stunning kōtuku/white heron.
In the heart of lowland forest lives the only population of the endangered rowi – New Zealand’s rarest kiwi. Kea are common throughout the park, and the forest is alive with birdlife.
Westland Tai Poutini National Park is located about halfway down the rugged West Coast of the South Island. The only road access is on SH6, via Hokitika in the north (approximately one and a half hours drive) or from the south via Haast (approximately two hours drive).
The townships of Franz Josef/Waiau and Fox Glacier/Weheka are on the park boundary and offer various services including accommodation, service stations, grocery stores and souvenir shops. Ōkārito is also on the edge of the park and has several accommodation options.
The closest commercial airport is in Hokitika, which has daily flights from Christchurch. There are also regular bus services along the coast.
Know before you go
Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.
Check weather and track conditions
Westland Tai Poutini National Park lies in the path of the prevailing westerly winds, which can bring heavy rain at any time of the year, with up to five metres falling annually.
Weather conditions can change dramatically, in a short space of time, so make sure you check the latest forecast at the Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre and i-SITE in Franz Josef/Waiau or at the South Westland/Weheka Area Office in Fox Glacier/Weheka.
While you are there, make sure you check the current track conditions to ensure you have the most up-to-date information before heading out to explore the park.
Weather for Westland Tai Poutini National Park - Westland forecast
Safety signs, Franz Josef Glacier
Come prepared to encounter all conditions – you should carry warm and waterproof clothing with you at all times. And don’t forget to bring insect repellent as sandflies are prevalent.
If you use the track system in the park for overnight trips, make sure you are properly equipped and well prepared. Make sure your group has a capable leader and that everyone is carrying a sleeping bag, cooking utensils, sufficient high energy food (with some extra for emergencies), a waterproof raincoat and overtrousers, gloves, a hat, and several layers of warm (wool or fleece) clothing.
Visiting the glaciers
See the visiting the glaciers safety information and obey all signs and rope barriers during your visit.
Visit the Glacier Country website to view the latest daily glacier access update.