West Coast

The West Coast, or 'the Coast' as locals call it, is an untamed natural wilderness of rivers and rainforests, glaciers and geological treasures.

Never more than 50 kilometres wide, the whole stretch down the West Coast of the South Island - of which Greymouth is the largest town - is home to only 31,000 people.

It’s good if you’ve got your own transport because this region is 600km long and there’s a lot to see. In fact, the Great Coast Road stretching from Westport to Greymouth was recently voted one of the top 10 coastal drives in the world by Lonely Planet..

Visit the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers. These giant rivers of ice have squeezed down the valleys to just 250 metres above sea level.

The pancake rocks and blowholes at Punakaiki are among the West Coast’s most famous sights and a definite 'must-see' in this region. Only 45 minutes' drive from Punakaiki is the Denniston Experience, where you'll journey by train deep into a historic coal mine for a fascinating insight into West Coast mining history.

Take in the views from the new Westcoast Treetop Walk among ancient rimu, marvel at the limestone cliffs of Paparoa National Park and the vivid turquoise water in the Hokitika Gorge.

Marvel at the Oparara Arches in the north near Karamea, try your hand at fly fishing on Lake Brunner, or have your breath taken away in Haast World Heritage Area.

The West Coast is New Zealand’s only source of greenstone (pounamu) with the boulders found in the West Coast rivers. In Hokitika you can take a tour and watch the greenstone carvers at work.

Meet the ‘coasters’ as the locals are known and you’ll find a bunch of independent, self-reliant but hugely friendly and hospitable people. Sit down and have a beer with them and they’ll regale you with west coast stories. 

Some of The Many Attractions

Franz Josef Glacier
Glacier Country – Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers

Explore the dramatic Franz Josef and Fox glaciers, two of the most accessible glaciers in the world.

Descending from the Southern Alps down to rainforest just 300 metres above sea level, there are several ways to experience these natural wonders. Join a guided walk to the Franz Josef Glacier terminus, take in the sights of both glaciers from above with a scenic flight, or hike on the ice via helicopter.

Haast World Heritage Site

For a taste of true wilderness take a jet boat safari or scenic helicopter trip through Haast UNESCO World Heritage Area. Known to the original Māori inhabitants as Te Wāhi Pounamu – the greenstone waters, the 2.6 million hectare site covers almost 10 percent of New Zealand’s total land area. From mountain to sea, this is an area of primeval vistas.

West Coast Caving

The West Coast is home to enormous, fascinating cave systems complete with glow worms and spectacular rock formations.

Be spell bound when you go caving on the West Coast. Enjoy a blackwater, underground rafting experience; a cave tour or, if you're an adrenaline junkie, a full day of adventure caving. Explore grottos lit by glowworms and travel to the caves via rainforest train. The enormous Nile River Cave System offers something for everyone - don't miss this uniquely New Zealand experience. 

Prizes generously donated by tourism operators from this area that you could win!

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Check out the Tourism New Zealand website for more information about the amazing things to see and do in New Zealand

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