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West Coast

Experience

 

  • Never more than 50km wide but stretching more than 600km north to south, the West Coast region is sandwiched between the Southern Alps and the coast. One of the most unpopulated regions in New Zealand, the region is made up of several towns with the major ones being Hokitika, Westport and Greymouth with a combined population of around 20,000.

    Thanks to it's unique geography the West Coast has a striking landscape of 3000m snow-capped mountains and rugged coastline, including numerous rivers, beaches, glaciers, forest and other natural attractions. Accessible via Arthur's Pass from Christchurch or Haast Pass leaving from Wanaka or Queenstown, most people explore the area via car or camper van due to the size of the region.

  • 1 Fox Glacier & Franz Josef Glacier
  • 2 Hokitika & Hokitika Gorge
  • 3 Punakiaiki
  • 4 Lake Matheson
  • 5 Kahurangi National Park
  • 6 Haast Pass
  • 7 Paparoa National Park
  • 8 Paparoa Track/Pike29 Memorial Track (Great Walk)
  • 9 Westland Tai Poutini National Park
  • 10 Mount Aspiring National Park
  • 11 Jackson Bay
  • 12 Greymouth
  • 13 Westport
  • 14 Reefton
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Fox Glacier & Franz Josef Glacier

 

 

Fox Glacier and Franz joseph Glacier are located on the west coast of the South Island. Both places are quite unique when it comes to glaciers around the world as they both nearly flow to sea level due to the climate in this area! Both glaciers are over 12 km in length and are Maritime glaciers so if you’re having trouble deciding on which one to visit just do both! Not only the glaciers are worth visiting but also both towns which host some amazing food, wild coastlines and great people. Be sure to book accommodation in advance as the small towns can get booked out easily. Although you can self-guide and walk to the base of his glaciers it’s an amazing experience to actually get up on them an experience the glacier with a guide or certified tour company. Other options to see the glaciers in full view are by helicopter and several providers are located right in the townships so it very easy to organize.

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Hokitika & Hokitika Gorge

Hokitika is a town located on the West Coast of the South Island. Surrounded on one side by the Southern Alps and the other the Tasman Sea makes for a spectacular place to visit. The Hokitika gorge is located just over 30 km from the Township itself, and it is well worth the drive to see the turquoise blue waters flowing down the gorge. When you reach the gorge there is a walking track of just over 500 m that will take you through some amazing native bush as you make your way to the gorge itself. The Light blue turquoise color is caused by mineral rich schist rock and sandstone that makes its way into the river, similar to some other glacier fed rivers further down the South Island.

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Punakiaiki

 

Punakaiki is a small town located on the West Coast of the South Island. The Syria is most famously known for its pancake rocks and blow holes along its wild west coast. The pancake rocks are caused by erosion to limestone and are a spectacular site to see as they sit right on the edge of the ocean. Around the pancake rocks area there are several short walkways which will take you past blow holes in the spectacular views of the coastline. Blow holes are caused from ocean swells forcing their way up and threw holes in the coastal rocks so be sure to take your camera and keep your distance unless you have an umbrella!

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Photo credit: Fraser Clements

Lake Matheson

 

Lake Matheson is located near Fox Glacier in the South Island. The lake is well known for amazing pictures showing reflections of the southern alps on its calm waters. With the amazing views that you could stare at all day there also short walks and hikes nearby such as a 2.6 km circuit taking around the lake and around 1 1/2 hours. Getting to Lake Matheson is best done from the nearby Fox Glacier Township that hosts some great accommodation options. As there are many other attractions around this area it is best done by car so can get the full West Coast experience.

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Photo credit: Miles Holden

Kahurangi National Park

 

Kahurangi National Park is located in the North West corner of the South Island. The National Park covers a large area just over 4 1/2 thousand square kilometers. The National Park has vast biodiversity with large caves, mossy forests and deep flowing rivers that will truly take your breath away, so It’s no wonder that the National Park is home to so many amazing aquatic ecosystems and thriving birdlife. There are many great hikes to do within the National Park and one the most popular is the Heaphy Track one of nine great walks the country has to offer. If you don’t fancy walking the entire length of some of these long tracks through the National Park you can also mountain bikes am making it accessible to a lot of active people.

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Haast Pass

 

Haast Pass is a mountain pass located in the southern alps of the South Island. The pass connects townships like Wanaka to the adventurous West Coast. However, Haast pass is not used just to get from one side to the other in a quick drive as there are many breathtaking attractions throughout the Pass itself including the blue pools, Cameron Flats and Thunder Creek Falls just to name a few. Although it’s a beautiful scenic drive be careful on the roads as it has many tourist rental cars and campervans. There are also many hiking and walking tracks throughout the past ranging anywhere from the five minutes Thunder Creek Falls walk up to 3 to 4-hour Smooth Water Bay track.

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Paparoa National Park

 

Paparoa National Park is located on the west coast of the South Island. The National Park makes up in the area of 430km² reaching from the coastline and towards the southern alps makes for some beautiful scenery. There are some great walks and hikes among limestone cliffs, coastal forests and crystal-clear streams. Walks include the pancake rocks and blowholes walk at around 20 minutes up to slightly longer tracks such as the Paparoa Track l and Pike29 Memorial Track taking 2 to 3 hours one way. There are range of other attractions within the park such as natural caves, Horse treks and canoeing ventures.

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Paparoa Track/Pike29 Memorial Track (Great Walk)

 

Pike29 Memorial Track is fully open, but the Paparoa Track is set to open in 2019 this Great Walk will be 55 km one way taking around 2 to 3 days on average and also can be ridden by mountain bike in 1 to 2 days. Along the track you’ll get to experience some amazing views of the rugged West Coast with the track starting at the smoke-ho car park and ending at the Pororari River Car Park there will be plenty of time to take on some of New Zealand’s most beautiful terrain.  The Pike29 Memorial track is named after the 29 men whose lives were lost in the Historic Pike Mine accident. Only opening in 2018 it is New Zealand’s newest walk track placing at number 10, this track is also multi use with mountain bikers and hikers getting on the track together. Walking either of these tracks is an amazing way to experience how truly rugged and untouched the West Coast of the South Island is.

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Westland Tai Poutini National Park

 

Westland Tai Poutini National Park is located on the west coast of the South Island. This National Park is one of the most untouched and natural beauties of the country, with high snowy peaks, green rainforests and large devices this makes for a unique National Park and area of the South Island. Much of the National Park is untouched due to its ruggedness and sheer mountain faces leaving many people with no option but to fly in via helicopter for hunting and mountaineering experiences. There are large range of tracks for hiking what’s in this National Park, they range from some of the more advanced traps such as Alex knob track, Karangarua and Douglas valleys to the easier tracks such as Fox Glacier and Franz Joseph Glacier walks.

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Photo Credit: Miles Holden

Mount Aspiring National Park

 

Mount Aspiring National Park is located in the heart of the southern alps in the South Island. The National Park covers a large area of 3562km² and is made up of large mountains, deep forests and alpine mountain lakes. Most accommodation options will be found near Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea or on the West Coast if you’re up for a small drive. Some nice walks to do around the area include the Blue Pools walk, Rob Roy Glacier and Mount Brewster track. This region is full of hiking and alpine hut managed by doc you’ll need to check before you go on bookings and fees for each hut. Other ways of experiencing the National Park include rock climbing, mountaineering, jet boating, mountain biking and many more depending on the experience you’re after there’s something for you here!

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Photo Credit: Small World Productions

Jackson Bay

 

Jackson Bay is located on the lower west coast of the South Island. This is the furthest place south within the Westland distract you can drive but is well worth taking the time to go and see. Jackson Bay has a large pier on the beach used for fishing Boats with in the area and happens to make for great photos as the sun sets.  There is a great little 20-minute loop walk that takes you around the head land of the bay offering great views of the rugged coastline. Accommodation in the area ranges from tent sites to Holiday homes and motels.

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Greymouth

 

Greymouth is a town located on the West Coast of the South Island. This town boasts some great history, natural attractions and activities. Local Maori had lived in the area along time before Europeans arrived and upon their arrival a lot of coal and gold mining took place along with the forestry industry. Now there’s a large range of attractions such as visiting the old goldmines exploring the nearby coastline and some great bushwalks. Hikes and walks around the area include small 20-50minute bushwalks such as the king Domain walk and Omotumotu Bush Walk right up to the longer 1 to 2-day tracks such as the Croesus track. If you’re looking for something relaxed then the clear blue lake Brunner maybe the answer you’re looking for, popular activities here include fishing camping and boating.

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Westport

 

Westport the town located on the West Coast of the South Island. Being right near the mouth of the Buller River and the Black sand beaches Westport makes for a great place to visit. There are a range of different attractions around Westport including hiking, mountain biking, surfing, fishing and many more. If you’re after some local knowledge and experience there are some great wildlife tours, town tours as well as specialized surf guides! Walks and hikes near the town include the 10 to 20-minute walks around the coastline where you may get to see baby seals to the slightly longer 2 to 3-hour Bridal Path and charming Creek walkway at 6 hours one way.

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Reefton

Never more than 50km wide but stretching more than 600km north to south, the West Coast region is sandwiched between the Southern Alps and the coast. One of the most unpopulated regions in New Zealand, the region is made up of several towns with the major ones being Hokitika, Westport and Greymouth with a combined population of around 20,000.

Thanks to it's unique geography the West Coast has a striking landscape of 3000m snow-capped mountains and rugged coastline, including numerous rivers, beaches, glaciers, forest and other natural attractions. Accessible via Arthur's Pass from Christchurch or Haast Pass leaving from Wanaka or Queenstown, most people explore the area via car or camper van due to the size of the region.

 

Reefton is a small town located on the Northern end of West Coast region in the South Island. Reefton like Greymouth has a history of goldmining, Railway and electricity plant all massive innovations for the area in its time. Tourist attractions here consist of a lot of hiking, mountain biking and coastal adventures. Many of the mountain bike trails and hiking tracks aren’t located too far from the town so access can be easy depending on what track you’re heading for. Some of the longer hikes around the area include those such as the Mount Haast Route at six hours and the Golden Lead Battery historical site taking around 6 hours return also. If you don’t have too much time and are looking for something more relaxed, then head to the local Museum and cafes or maybe even try your hand at gold panning.

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