Christchurch – easily accessible via direct flights from all over Australia, and just three hours from the Eastern Seaboard – is the gateway to the South Island's natural delights. The West Coast is a short journey from Christchurch and the sights along the way are simply stunning.
It’s easy to catch the TranzAlpine train to the West Coast from Christchurch, crossing the Canterbury Plains and traversing Arthur’s Pass. Take in thrilling vistas over deep gorges alongside stunning rivers close to the mighty Southern Alps. The train leaves daily at 8.15am, arriving in Greymouth at 12.45pm. Here are some of the top day trips you can take on the West Coast from Greymouth.
30 mins from Greymouth – 44 km
Carved over millions of years, the pancake rocks at Punakaiki, north of Greymouth, are a sight to behold at high tide. A walkway leads you through native forest, flax and scrub before emerging at the edge of the cliffs above the blowholes. Gaze in wonder as jets of water spray up through rocks that resemble stacks of giant hotcakes. At the settlement of Punakaiki, you can also book horse treks, caving, rafting and canoeing adventures.
2 hours 15 mins from Greymouth – 173 km
Drive down the wild west coast toward glacier country – Franz Josef is closer to Greymouth, with Fox Glacier about 15 minutes further south. These massive ice giants flow almost to sea level and their low altitude makes them some of the most convenient in the world to visit. Easy walks to the terminal faces pass along ancient valleys. Professional guides lead journeys onto the ice – flights are weather dependent.
35 mins from Greymouth – 37 km
Lying inland from the coast, Lake Brunner is the largest lake on the west coast and the most popular angling water in the region. The lake and its nearby rivers and streams boast some of the best brown trout (averaging 1.1kg) around - the saying goes that ‘trout die of old age’ here. Fishing is possible all year and in almost any weather, with boats available for hire. Other options include swimming, water skiing, jetboating, and even walking or cycling on local trails.