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Nature & Wildlife

8 Unmissable Walks In Glacier Country

  • 2 minutes

There are over 30 walking tracks from short scenic tracks to multiple day backcountry tramps. From glacier faces, to surging rivers over swing bridges, coastal walks where seal winter over and lakes reflecting the mountains. The sheer variety of scenery and ease of access for families makes this a great place to get the family and kids outdoors, outside and in natural places.

NO DOGS ALLOWED – most areas are managed by the Department of Conservation.




Stunning panoramic view from Okarito lookout to the native bush countryside, West Coast, New Zealand
Okarito lookout from Trig Walk
  1. Okarito Trig Point

Okarito Trig Point  with panoramic vistas of Aoraki Mount Cook and the Southern Alps and glimpses of the coast

  1. Roberts Point

Roberts Point for swing bridge buffs, the second largest swing bridge in New Zealand is not for the faint hearted. If you can open your eyes the bonus is a view of a glacier.

Check DOC resource for up to date information.

Roberts Point Track, New Zealand @DOC / Shellie Evans
Roberts Point Track, New Zealand @DOC / Shellie Evans
Tatare Tunnels, New Zealand @DOC / Jan Hazevoet
Tatare Tunnels, New Zealand @DOC / Jan Hazevoet
  1. Tatare Tunnels Walk

The Tatare Tunnels walk begins in the Franz Josef Glacier Township.  It follows a 4WD drive road before a gentle climb to a view of the scenic Tatare Gorge.  The track then becomes steeper and narrower for the short climb up to the tunnels, which allows you to experience the lush temperate rainforest. It stops before the old wooden flume, at the end of the first tunnel.

If you wish to explore the tunnels you will need a torch and raincoat. Be aware you may get your feet wet – there is water in the tunnels that can get ankle deep. It’s worth it through – once you’re in the tunnels and turn your torch off, you’ll spot the glow worms.

  • Length: 3.6 km
  • Grade: Moderate

Check DOC resource for up to date information.

  1. Callery Gorge Walk

The walk begins approximately 5 minutes along the Tatare Tunnels Track with a short, gentle climb to a high terrace behind Franz Josef Waiau township, passing the town water supply pipes and tanks. The track narrows through the rainforest, and follows alongside an old gold mining water race.  The water race and some rusty relics are among the last visual reminders of the gold mining era.

The track then descends to the historic Callery Gorge bridge. From here there are views of the narrow Callery Gorge which has changed dramatically over the years due to gravel deposits filling in the gorge and raising the level of the riverbed.

Check DOC resource for up to date information.

Callery Gorge, New Zealand @DOC / David Scott Tredinnick
Callery Gorge, New Zealand @DOC / David Scott Tredinnick
  1. Sentinel Rock Walk

This walk is a short steady climb up a now bush-covered ice-scraped rock to a landing up the top. It has impressive views of the glacier and the Waiho River. There are information panels at the viewpoint showing dramatic photos of the glacial retreat, making it one of the best places to appreciate the power of the mighty Franz Josef Glacier.

  • Length: 900 m
  • Grade: Easy
Peters Pool Walk @DOC / K Henderson
Peters Pool Walk @DOC / K Henderson
  1. Peter’s Pool Walk

This is an easy walk from the Glacier carpark that winds through the rainforest to a small kettle lake.

This lake was formed by ice melting amongst glacial moraine.  There are beautiful reflective views of the glacier valley and mountain peaks. A bench beside the lake offers a moment to sit and enjoy the scenery

  • Length: 1.1 km
  • Loop track

Check DOC resource for up to date information.

  1. Lake Wombat Walk

This walk climbs steadily from the car park through rimu forest to Lake Wombat.

Lake Wombat is a kettle lake which was formed by the melting of a huge piece of ice left amidst glacial debris about 9000 years ago.

The lake is named after Jack Irwin, alias Wombat Jack who sluiced for gold in the area in the 1800’s. There is seating by the lake.

  • Length: 3.8 km (loop)
  1. Pakihi Walk – Spectacular Views

Before you start the walk take a look at the heritage Blacks Rail Tractor which is on display with info boards at the start of the track (similar to the Lenz Reserve, The Catlins). The track then crosses Pakihi swamp before climbing a steady slow incline through a forest of kamahi and rimu to a lookout platform. At this platform the views open to the coast, Okarito Lagoon, the surrounding rainforest and up to the Southern Alps including Aoraki Mount Cook. This area is home to the Rowi (Okarito Brown Kiwi), the rarest of the five species of Kiwi.

  • Length: 1 km (loop)
Okarito Lagoon, West Coast, New Zealand
Okarito Lagoon, West Coast

More information about walking tracks is available

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