The West Coast, or ‘the Coast’ as locals call it, is a wild place of rivers and rainforests, glaciers and geological treasures. Never more than fifty kilometres wide, the whole stretch down the West Coast of the South Island is home to only 31,000 people. Greymouth is the largest town.
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.
The West Coast, also, is New Zealand’s only source of greenstone (pounamu) with the boulders being found in the West Coast rivers. In Hokitika and Greymouth 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. Accommodation can be a cosy B&B, luxury lodge or character hotel; all of it excellent value.
- The West Coast is the longest region in New Zealand. Allow enough days to experience everything.
- Walking is one of the best ways to appreciate the spectacular landscapes. Stop often for a stroll or a hike.
- The TranzAlpine over Arthur's Pass is listed as one of the world's greatest train journeys.
- Regular bus services connect the West Coast with Wanaka, Queenstown, Christchurch, Nelson and Picton.