Different Stops Between Christchurch and Fox Glacier

What to See from Christchurch to Fox Glacier (All the Must-Visit Spots!)

If you’re here, we know it’s because you have a specific goal in mind –  to make your road trip from Christchurch to Fox Glacier an absolute blast. As it happens, we’ve made that trip several times ourselves, so we know how to make it a thrilling one from experience!

Come on! Let’s hit the road and inject some serious fun into your Christchurch to Fox Glacier expedition!

1. Marvel at Arthur’s Pass National Park

Website: https://isite.nz/find-an-isite/listing/doc-arthurs-pass-national-park-visitor-centre 

Address: 104 West Coast Road, Arthur’s Pass Village 7875, New Zealand

Contact details: +64 3 318 9211

Operating hours: Monday – Sunday: 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM

Price: National Park pass: $90 (guided activities not included)

Let’s kick off our road trip adventure with a must-visit gem: Arthur’s Pass National Park. 

Trust us, folks, this place is straight out of a postcard. Imagine yourself surrounded by majestic mountains with views that go beyond breathtaking.

Within the park, you’ll find an abundance of incredible activities waiting to be explored. This destination is the ultimate spot to spend a night on your road trip, offering an array of exciting experiences that cater to every traveller’s interests.

Pro-tips:
• Lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails! Arthur’s Pass offers a variety of hiking options for all levels of experience. Whether you’re up for a leisurely stroll or a challenging summit hike, there’s a trail that will suit your adventure cravings.
• Keep an eye out for the mischievous Kea, New Zealand’s native alpine parrot. These clever and curious creatures are often seen around Arthur’s Pass. Just remember, they have a knack for mischief, so keep your belongings secure!

2. See the famous Devils Punchbowl

Website: https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/canterbury/places/arthurs-pass-national-park/things-to-do/tracks/devils-punchbowl-walking-track/ 

Address: Devils Punchbowl Walking Track, Arthur’s Pass Village 7875, New Zealand

Contact details: +64 3 318 9211

Operating hours: Open 24 hours

Of all the things to see in Arthur’s Pass National Park, we can’t help but hype up the famous Devils Punchbowl. This 131-meter tall (430 feet) waterfall is a sight to behold, and you might even get splashed in the process.

What we love about this activity is that it’s suitable for any weather. Rain? Well, that just adds to the experience and makes it even more impressive!

Pro-tips:
• The Devils Punchbowl Waterfalls are just a short and easy walk, but the path can get slippery. Make sure to wear sturdy shoes or boots to ensure a safe and comfortable hike.
• The viewing platform at the base of the falls can get crowded, especially during peak times. If you prefer a more secluded experience, consider hiking up to the top of the falls. 
• While the pool at the base of the falls may look tempting, swimming is strictly prohibited, so don’t get in! The water is extremely cold, and the conditions can be dangerous. 

3. Experience the wonder of Hokitika Gorge

Website: https://westcoast.co.nz/visit/plan-your-trip/hokitika-gorge/ 

Address: Kokatahi 7881, New Zealand

Contact details: +64 3 755 6166

Operating hours: Open 24 hours

You absolutely can’t miss this gem on your West Coast road trip – Hokitika Gorge. Make a pit stop here and embark on a delightful 2-kilometre walk (1.24 miles) to reach the gorge and its mesmerizing viewpoints.

Once you arrive, there’s not much to do except marvel at the vibrant turquoise waters flowing through ancient rock formations. Snap some photos and simply soak in the breathtaking beauty. 

Pro-tips:
• Why not make it a complete experience? If you packed a delicious picnic with you, find a scenic spot near the gorge to enjoy a leisurely meal. It’s the perfect way to enhance your visit and create lasting memories.
• Consider allowing extra time to fully embrace the experience. Wander around, find a comfortable spot to relax, and let the enchanting ambience of Hokitika Gorge wash over you.

4. Be mesmerized by the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes

Website: https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/west-coast/places/paparoa-national-park/things-to-do/tracks/pancake-rocks-and-blowholes-walk/ 

Address: 4294 Coast Road, Punakaiki, RD 1, Runanga 7873

Contact details: +64 3 731 1895

Operating hours: Open 24 hours

Hold your breath, because the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes at Punakaiki will leave you speechless. It’s actually the most visited natural attraction on the West Coast, and for good reason; they really do look like stacked pancakes!

The best way to experience this mesmerizing sight is to take a walk along the track. You’ll be treated to stunning coastal views and get up close to the unique rock formations. 

But that’s not all—keep an eye out for the blowholes! When the tide is right, you might witness powerful sprays of water shooting up from the rocks, creating a truly awe-inspiring spectacle.

Pro-tips:
• Check in with the local Department of Conservation visitor centre to find out the optimal time to witness the blowholes in action. When they’re active, they emit a powerful “whoosh” sound and may even give you a refreshing spray of sea mist. Stay prepared to capture the moment!
• Keep a keen eye out for Hector’s Dolphins, known for their playful nature. These delightful creatures often frequent the waters close to the shore.

5. Discover Franz Josef Glacier

Website: https://www.franzjosefglacier.com/ 

Address: Franz Josef / Waiau, 7856, New Zealand

Contact details: 0800 484 337

Operating hours: Open 24 hours

Price:

  • Glacier Walk $200-$300
  • Helicopter Flight $300-$500

Now, here’s a place that simply cannot be skipped – Franz Josef Glacier. This natural wonder will leave you in awe with its sheer grandeur and icy magnificence.

If you ask us, being greeted by the towering mountains and lush rainforests is enough, but our advice? If you have the time (and trust us, you’ll want to make the time), we highly recommend embarking on a guided glacier hike.

With this, you’ll step onto the glacier itself and witness its icy formations up close. Now that’s the true ultimate experience at Franz Josef Glacier!

Pro-tip:
If hiking isn’t your thing, don’t worry! There are plenty of other ways to enjoy Franz Josef Glacier. Take a scenic helicopter flight to get a bird’s-eye view of the glacier’s vast expanse, or relax in the soothing waters of the Glacier Hot Pools, surrounded by nature’s beauty.

6. Embrace the beauty of Lake Matheson

Website: https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/west-coast/places/westland-tai-poutini-national-park/things-to-do/tracks/lake-matheson-walk/ 

Address: Lake Matheson Rd, Fox Glacier, Westland, 7856, New Zealand 

Contact details: +64 3 752 0360

Operating hours: Open 24 hours

No road trip from Christchurch to Fox Glacier would be complete without a visit to the breathtaking Lake Matheson.

It’s not your ordinary lake, no! It’s a mirror-like lake surrounded by lush rainforests and towering mountains. 

And what makes it even more special? The opportunity to capture the iconic mirror image of Aoraki/Mount Cook, and Mount Tasman, perfectly reflected in the tranquil waters. It’s a photographer’s dream come true!

Pro-tip:
• Don’t forget to take the Lake Matheson Walk! This leisurely stroll around the lake offers picturesque viewpoints and a chance to immerse yourself in the serene beauty of the surroundings.
• The path is well-maintained and dotted with informative signs, giving you insights into the flora, fauna, and Maori history of the area. 

7. Unwind at Okarito Lagoon

Website: https://westcoast.co.nz/visit/operators/okarito-lagoon-and-beach/ 

Address: 55 Okarito Rd, Okarito, Westland, 7876, New Zealand 

Contact details: +64 3 752 0360

Operating hours: Monday – Sunday: 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Okarito Lagoon is so inviting that it simply can’t be overlooked. This place is pure magic, with its serene waters reflecting the stunning mountains and vibrant rainforest.

It’s also an ideal spot to take a break from driving and unwind, as its peaceful nature creates an atmosphere of utter peace. The silence of the lagoon is only interrupted by the flapping of wings and the occasional splash of a fish breaking the surface. 

Pro-tips:
• Consider renting a kayak or joining a guided kayak tour to explore the lagoon’s calm waters. Paddling through the tranquil surroundings is an unforgettable experience.
• Don’t miss the chance to witness the magical sunset at Okarito Lagoon. Find a comfortable spot and watch as the colours paint the sky and create a breathtaking display.

8. Walk the Ship Creek

Website: https://westcoast.co.nz/visit/plan-your-trip/ship-creek-walk-and-monro-beach/ 

Address: 7886/10714 Haast Highway, Haast 7886, New Zealand

Operating hours: Open 24 hours

Let us spill the beans on Ship Creek, a hidden gem that’s an absolute must-stop on your road trip. But hey, we’re not just asking you to stand around and admire the view; get ready to take a leisurely stroll through the lush coastal forest.

But the real treat lies at the end of the pathway – Monro Beach, a remote oasis untouched by the hands of time. It’s like discovering a hidden treasure within this already amazing destination.

Pro-tips:
• As you walk along Ship Creek, make sure to reach the platforms overlooking Lake Mataketake. From here, you’ll be treated to magnificent photo opportunities that capture the breathtaking sweep of the coastline to the southwest, all the way to Jackson Head.
• Don’t miss the opportunity to take the second walk to the dune lake. It’s a 30-minute stroll through the dense coastal forest, shaped by the relentless winds. 

9. Walk Among Giants at West Coast Treetop

Website: https://treetopsnz.com/ 

Address: 1128 Woodstock-Rimu Road, Hokitika 7812, New Zealand

Contact details: +64 3 755 5052

Operating hours: Monday – Sunday: 9:00 AM – 3:15 PM

Price:

  • Adult – $32.40
  • Student – $28.80
  • Senior (60+) – $28.80
  • Children (5-15) – $16.20
  • Family (2 x 2) – $84.60

Ever wanted to walk among giants? Well, hit the brakes when you come across the West Coast Treetop Walk. Yes, we’ve got another thrilling walk in store for you!

But here, we’re talking about a stroll that takes you 20 metres (66 feet) above the forest floor. It’s a cool and unique experience that allows you to explore the landscape from a whole new perspective.

During your walk, you’ll come across a tall viewing platform that adds an extra dimension to your adventure. In total, the walk takes approximately 30 to 40 minutes to complete. 

Pro-tip:
If you’re seeking a convenient place to stay near the West Coast Treetop Walk, we highly recommend the Lake Mahinapua DOC Campground. It’s perfect for camping or travelling in a campervan/motorhome, and offers a fantastic location and facilities.

10. Stop at Lake Ianthe

Website: https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/west-coast/places/harihari-area/things-to-do/campsites/lake-ianthe-matahi-campsite/ 

Address: 69 Cron Street, Franz Josef Glacier 7856

Contact details: +64 3 752 0360

Operating hours: Open 24 hours

Just a short drive south of the West Coast Treetop Walk lies the captivating Lake Ianthe. When the weather is clear, the reflections on the water’s surface are simply mesmerizing. 

Not only is Lake Ianthe a feast for the eyes, but it’s also an ideal spot to pause your road trip and perhaps even indulge in a picnic by the lakeshore.

Oh, and there are convenient restroom facilities available too, ensuring a comfortable break during your journey.

Pro-tips:
• If you’re an angler, don’t miss the opportunity to cast your line in Lake Ianthe. This scenic lake is known for its trout population, making it a popular spot for fishing.
• However, there are some regulations you need to follow when fishing in Lake Ianthe. You will need to have a valid New Zealand fishing license, and you are only allowed to use barbless hooks. 
• With its calm and inviting ambiance, this lake is an ideal spot to cool off and enjoy a leisurely swim amidst stunning natural surroundings.