The West Coast of the South Island offers a variety of experiences including glacier walks, jet boating and kayaking.

West Coast
Punakaiki, West Coast

Ocean spray splashing up through Punakaiki's pancake rocks

Nature at the North End

At the northern end of the West Coast you can revel in the wild perfection of the landscape.

  • Discover the Oparara limestone arches at Karamea.
  • Relax at Maruia Springs Thermal Resort, on the Lewis Pass Road (State Highway 7) to Christchurch.
  • View the seal colony at Cape Foulwind near Westport.
  • Follow the Coal Mining Heritage trail to historic coal mining sites at Denniston and Stockton.
  • Explore the turquoise blue waters of Hokitika Gorge
  • Visit Coal Town Museum, Westport, for great historical exhibitions and photographic displays.
  • See the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and blowholes. The blowholes operate at high tide and are best on a blustery day.
  • Adventure tour operators in this area offer white water rafting, underground cave rafting, jet boating, horse trekking, mountain biking, unimog tours, land yachting, kayaking, surfing, caving and a range of other outdoor activities.
  • Reefton is a gold mining town with a rich history - it was the first town in the Southern Hemisphere to have electric street lighting.
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West Coast
Lake Brunner, West Coast

A mirror calm day on Lake Brunner, near Greymouth. Taken from the Arnold River Swing Bridge.

Greymouth on the Grey River

Get to know the central West Coast in and around Greymouth.

  • Shantytown is a replica pioneering town with historical train rides, a working gold claim (where you can successfully pan for gold) and 30 historic buildings.
  • Lake Brunner is known for its trout fishing and beautiful views.
  • Art galleries showcase talent from around the region.
  • Blackball is a mining town where the New Zealand Labour Party was founded. Visit the colourful 'Formerly the Blackball Hilton' hotel.
  • Adventure and activity options include rafting, dolphin-watching, 4WD (four-wheel drive) bikes, underground cave rafting and scenic flights.
West Coast
Beach, West Coast

Hokitika beach is typical of the South Island's wild West Coast

The interesting world of Hokitika

There's lots to see and do in Hokitika, so make sure you allow enough time to see it. 

  • A range of local craft galleries exhibit everything from hand blown glass and gold nugget jewellery to wood craft and New Zealand jade (pounamu).
  • Visit the gold mining town of Ross, once one of the deepest mining operations in the Southern Hemisphere.
West Coast
Franz Josef glacier, West Coast

Enjoying the scenery on Franz Josef.

Glacier country and the Southern West Coast

Amazing beauty and the powerful presence of glaciers - you'll shoot a lot of pictures here

  • The White Heron sanctuary of Whataroa is the only nesting colony of the White Heron or Kotuku in New Zealand.
  • Take a guided walk onto the Franz Josef or Fox glacier. The glaciers extend from New Zealand's highest peaks to valley floors surrounded by temperate rainforests.
  • Wow yourself with a scenic flight over Westland National Park and the glaciers.
  • On a still day, Lake Matheson provides a perfect reflection of New Zealand's highest peaks.
  • Visit Haast and Jackson's Bay and take advantage of local guides to explore flora, fauna and marine life on an eco-tour.

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