Settled as a gold mining town, Westport is situated on the West Coast of the South Island. Surrounded by lush native rainforests and the stunning Southern Alps, the area is a wealth of coal and minerals that support the local economy. Just minutes from the township, you’ll find plenty of West Coast attractions and outdoor activities to enjoy.
Just a four hour drive from Christchurch, Westport is close enough to take a weekend trip. Choose from one of two mountain pass routes:
- Arthurs Pass: This route features the impressive engineering work of the viaduct. A big, wide road curves through the steep Arthurs Pass valley, providing a unique landscape worth photographing. There are plenty of pit stops on this route, perfect for lunch or a walk.
- Lewis Pass: Take the main highway north of Christchurch and turn off in Waipara. Hanmer Springs is just 10min from the main road, so it’s worth taking a few hours to detour and enjoy the hot pools. From there, Lewis Pass is a very scenic, windy road that takes you right to Westport.
Westport offers the perfect location for any outdoor enthusiast. There are lots West Coast attractions - bush walks, tramps, lookouts and historic points of interest.
- Walking tracks: Ranging from 5 minute walks to see a waterfall, to multi day overnight tramps, there’s an outdoor adventure suitable for every ability. The famous Great Walk – The Heaphy Track, is just a couple of hours drive from Westport. Lake Daniels has an easy two hour walk that is very popular
- Lakes and Rivers: The main highway down the West Coast is a scenic dream. Passing over many mighty rivers such as the Buller and the Grey, there are many spots to check out the whitebait – a popular tiny fish. There are also many beautiful lakes right next to the road. Often, the lakes have a perfect reflection of the Alps behind them, which makes for the ultimate holiday photo.
- Pancake Rocks: Otherwise known as Punakaiki, these strange rock formations by the sea are well worth the short drive south. Watch the surf as it bursts up through the blowholes in the rocks. There’s an easy loop track through some bush and out to the rocks, with ample roadside parking.
- Buller Gorge: If you’re after an adrenaline rush, head up to the Buller Gorge and check out the swing bridge. Hop in the Cometline, a thrilling zip line ride over the river. There’s also goldpanning if you’re feeling lucky and plenty of bush walks.
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