Glacier Valley Eco Tours is a New Zealand-owned and operated family business. The husband & wife team, Cliff & Tash have been living in the Franz Josef Glacier area for about 17 years and have two children. Our lead guide is Cliff and Tash is the queen of admin, bookings & marketing. Cliff has been guiding in New Zealand in our national parks for the last twenty years, and in Glacier Country, since we arrived in 2003. We live with our two children (and chickens, dogs, frogs and goats) at the beach in the bush in Okarito.
Born in Taranaki, New Zealand, Cliff spent his childhood playing in the rivers, lakes and ocean around this beautiful area. He left high school and started working in a timber mill workshop, but his love of wood was lost as he struggled to be inside all day amongst the noise and dust. He met someone who was off to the South Island of New Zealand, (where he had never been) and on a whim decided to join them, which would lead to a life-changing adventure busking, hitchhiking and WOOFING over the next seven years.
Eventually, he moved on from WOOFING and was a kayak guide in Milford Sound and in time found his home in Franz Josef Glacier, where he secured a job as a Glacier Guide up on the ice. During a one-year Outdoor Recreation course in Motueka, he met his now wife, Tash and found himself there, intermittently guiding people on the Heaphy Track for Bush & Beyond. It wasn't long before Cliff convinced Tash to move to the West Coast where they found their cosy abode in the bush, at the seaside at Okarito. The next fifteen years saw Cliff working as a Glacier Guide back up on the ice in Franz Josef.
Cliff's friend Mike had a guiding business called Glacier Valley Eco Tours which was a long-standing family-owned and operated company, focused on nature, flora and fauna, history and the glacier valleys. When walking access onto the Franz Josef Glacier stopped in 2013 (becoming helicopter access only) Cliff decided this wasn't for him - as much as his love for the glacier, he didn't want to spend every day in a helicopter! He negotiated with Mike for the next few years to buy Glacier Valley Eco tours and secured the purchase in 2016 and here they are today!
Cliff is a Coaster at heart - self-sufficient, stubborn, humorous, easy-going and a natural storyteller. Nature guiding as part of his own business in this area is his dream and his love and passion for the West Coast's history, environment, rain, extreme weather and nature is what keeps him in this unique area of Aotearoa. He spends his time off white baiting, wood carving, kayaking, volunteering in our community as part of the predator trapping project (Project Early Bird) and doing a lot of these things with his kids too. He has trained to carve traditional Maori wood carvings and has a lot of these at the 5 Stay Te Waonui Retreat in Franz Josef, as well as for sale in our Tui Gallery - you can browse in our main office. He has a pet goat called Nicole which he takes for walks on the beach with his dogs. Cliff is quite the character and a day or half-day in the backcountry with him will be a memorable one!
Born in Timaru, Tash spent her childhood playing the piano, doing loads of sports and anything creative. She moved to Nelson after high school to complete a Diploma in Visual Arts majoring in Textiles Mixed Media at NMIT. After attending a short course at the outdoor centre in Motueka where she met Cliff, she bought a house bus and worked various jobs over the next few years - nannying; working in a Playcentre, art therapist, working in a community organic garden, administration work for a trust, before deciding she wanted to be a graphic designer. Cliff and Tash were married in 2010 on the beach in Okarito, and had a 3-day party on their land at The Forks! Before taking over Glacier Valley Eco Tours, Tash worked as a kayak guide for Okarito Kayaks and admin for Glacier Country Tourism Group, amongst many other things (28 jobs in her 40 years!) and raising their children, Rowi & Zalas. Tash also has a huge passion for this area and spends her downtime kayaking on the Okarito lagoon, walking dogs on the beach, playing music and creating.
Glacier Valley Eco Tours is passionate about conservation and we do what we can to ensure our business has minimal to no impact on the environment. We are consciously involved in community volunteer programs such as the Okarito Native Plant Nursery to help restore the native forests on our land and Project Early Bird.
PROJECT EARLY BIRD - PREDATOR TRAPPING COMMUNITY PROJECT
In 2018, concerned with the lack of birdsong at our beloved Lake Matheson, we started a community trapping project, in conjunction with the Department of Conservation, to combat predators and protect our birds and invertebrates, including endangered fernbirds and recently released Rowi kiwi, working towards DOC's Predator Free 2050 goal of sustainability in New Zealand and also bringing back the birdlife for our Early Bird Tour and evening guided tours at Lake Matheson. We now have 115 x DOC 200 traps in this area and 10 regular volunteers.
This project will be ongoing, with the intention of extending it up to the new Lake Gault track in this area thanks to our wonderful volunteers who come out every month with us! Also huge thanks to our sponsors and supporters: Lake Matheson Cafe, who look after us with their tasty treats after our trapping days; Pics Peanut Butter for their peanut lures; West Coast Print for our signage and the Department of Conservation.
To donate to this project towards sustainability in our area, please phone us on 0800 925 586 or email email@example.com
See our Facebook page for more info or to volunteer.
For more info on Predator-free New Zealand visit https://predatorfreenz.org/
Ōkārito Plant Project
Restoring Natural Habitat for our Future
The Okarito Plant Project was founded by the Okarito Native Plant Trust as an innovative solution, empowering communities & businesses to be involved in the restoration & protection of natural ecosystems.
Working together towards a sustainable future, fostering biodiversity & regenerating vital forests, waterways & wetlands.
As a kaitiaki/guardian of this worthwhile project, Glacier Valley Eco Tours envisions this is part of a long-term sustainable commitment, and collaborating with other local tourism businesses in our area is the vital key to achieving our conservation goals.
Using our off-season time our staff run event days, plant & foster trees......, as well as all year round collect donations from our valued clients towards this project.
Glacier Valley Eco Tours is committed to a better future for New Zealand and actively partakes in initiatives both as part of the business operations but also outside of it, to support the promise of Tiaki.