Activities in Westland Tai Poutini National Park

Tracks and walks

Douglas Walk. Photo copyright: Katrina Henderson.
Douglas Walk

Westland Tai Poutini National Park has several short walks which can take you to stunning glacier views, reflective lakes and primeval rainforest.

Outstanding mountains to the sea vistas can be obtained from numerous vantage points within the park including the Ōkārito Trig, Alex Knob and Mount Fox, while Lake Matheson is famous for its reflections of Aoraki Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. It is also possible to do longer walks into the backcountry, but a good level of fitness and backcountry experience is required.

View from the top of Alex Knob. Photo copyright: Iain Graham.
View from the top of Alex Knob

Welcome Flat Hut, near the natural hot springs in the Copland Valley is a popular overnight destination for capable trampers. 

Tracks and walks starting near Franz Josef/Waiau township:

Alex Knob Track
Callery-Waiho Walk
Canavan's Knob Walk
Douglas Walk
Franz Josef Glacier/Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere Walking Track
Lake Wombat Track
Ōkārito walking tracks
Pakihi Walk
Roberts Point Track
Sentinel Rock Walk
Tatare Tunnels Walk
Terrace Walk

Lake Matheson.  Photo copyright: Katrina Henderson.
Lake Matheson

Tracks and walks starting near Fox Glacier/Weheka township:

Chalet Lookout Track
Copland Track to Welcome Flat 
Fox Glacier Te Moeka o Tuawe Valley Walk
Lake Matheson Walk
Minnehaha Walk
Moraine Walk
River Walk
River Walk Lookout
Upper Copland valley

Guided glacier walks

If you want to get closer to, or onto the glaciers, the safe way is to book a guided trip from Fox Glacier Weheka or Franz Josef Waiau.  Guided operators operate in each village and provide a safe, informative way to get up close and personal with these amazing rivers of ice. 

Mountaineering and ski touring

The high peaks within the park are a mecca for mountaineers, but are only suitable for the fit and experienced. There are five huts within the park which cater for climbers and ski-tourers.

Mountain biking

There are two tracks in Westland Tai Poutini National Park where bikes allowed – Te Ara a Waiau walkway/cycleway (Franz Josef Waiau) and Te Weheka walkway/cycleway (Fox Glacier Weheka). These joint use tracks enable legal, partially off-road bike access from the respective townships to the glacier valley road end car parks. Bike access is not permitted on any adjoining tracks or up to the glaciers.  

Mountain biking is also allowed on formed roads in the park – the North Ōkārito and Saltwater forests (north of Franz Josef Waiau) provide good opportunities.


Kayaking is available on many lakes and rivers in the park, and there is a self-guided kayak trail on the Ōkārito Lagoon.

Specialist activities: Gold fossicking

A recreational gold fossicking area is located on the Waiho River bed in the general area between the Callery Gorge suspension bridge and the Waiho River road bridge. You are welcome to try your luck at finding gold with a gold pan or sluice box. No licence is required but your respect is appreciated.

Accessing the gold fossicking area:

  • off SH6 at the Waiho River bridge, approximately 200 metres south of the Franz Josef Waiau village. Access is up the true right of the Waiho River, and dependent on river conditions you may be able to get as far as the Callery Bridge from this access point.
  • using the Franz Josef Glacier road which provides access to the section of the gold fossicking area on the true left of the Waiho River.

Do not attempt to cross the Callery or Waiho Rivers on foot as both are very swift, cold and dangerous. Use the Waiho Road bridge.

A map of the area can be obtained from the Crown Minerals website. Please check the map carefully as the gold fossicking area is not marked.

Enquire at the Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre for more details.

Read the gold fossicking care code

Other activities

Scenic flights operate over the glaciers and alpine snowfields, and sky diving operates from both Franz Josef Waiau and Fox Glacier Weheka. Many other tourism opportunities operate in, or just adjacent to, the park boundaries including boat, kayak and quad bike tours. Bookings can be made directly with operators or through the Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitors Centre and i-SITE.

Child/family friendly activities

Kiwi Ranger Programme

The Kiwi Ranger Programme is a free, fun and interactive way to get to know this special place. There are activities for young and old alike, and a badge is awarded on completion. More about Kiwi Ranger.

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View the Journeys in National Parks: Westland / Aoraki documentary on NZ on Screen

Stop the spread of didymo

Check, Clean, Dry all items before entering, and when moving between, waterways.


Follow the Outdoor Safety Code:
1. Plan your trip
2. Tell someone
3. Be aware of the weather
4. Know your limits
5. Take sufficient supplies


Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:      +64 3 752 0796
Address:   13 State Highway 6
Franz Josef Glacier 7856
Full office details