Looking to plan a family holiday to beat the crowds this summer? Glacier Country has so much to do and see from freshwater lakes, remote beaches, birds, mountains and rainforests. Come and play.
Your family fun begins in Okarito nestled between Whataroa and Franz Josef Glacier. Here you can cast a fishing rod from the wharf, hunt for crabs amongst the cockles and spot the birdlife around the lagoon. The beach is great for building huts and giant sand castles, then when the sun sets you can toast some marshmallows. In the morning explore all the free walks on offer, enjoy the beach playground and cook some sausages on a campfire.
Franz Josef Glacier
Your family fun continues in Franz Josef Glacier. You can cycle from the township on the Te Ara a Waiau cycleway through the bush to the Franz Josef Glacier Carpark. From here you can enjoy the walks in the glacier valley – will you be the brave one to stand under the waterfall on the Glacier Valley Walkway? Make sure you keep an eye out for the cheeky Kea that like to play in this area. The stars at night are magical, pack a star chart and see how many constellations you can find. Bring a torch so you can go glow worm hunting at night too.
Lake Mapourika is the favourite place to swim, fish or dive bomb off the jetty. It will be the highlight to end your days after exploring all the walkways around the glacier.
At Fox Glacier your family fun will continue. Take the walk across the swing bridge and around Lake Matheson or for a longer trail head up to Lake Gault. Both lakes offer breath taking views of Mt Cook. Take an extra day to visit Gillespies Beach where there is five walks to choose from including a walk to the seal colony at Galway Beach.
Bruce Bay & Paringa
As you leave Glacier Country and head South, stop for a walk at Bruce Bay where the rainforest meets the sea. Then you will need a compulsory stop into the Salmon Farm at Paringa. Here you can feed the salmon and treat yourself to some salmon pate a local favourite made on site. Keep the cameras handy they will work over-time as the road twists and turns through the rainforest towards the coast line as you make your way further south.
Summertime for the family on the West Coast of the South Island will be your favourite destination every year.