The West Coast, South Island, New Zealand -
travel and accommodation guide
Come and explore the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand,
one of the most remote and sparsely populated areas of the country.
Here you will find an untouched pristine landscape approx. 600 km long
and in some places only 70 km wide.
The West Coast is confined between the Tasman Sea on the West
and the Southern Alps on the East.
You will travel through a diverse landscape of wild coastlines, rainforests, glaciers, mountains, crystal clear lakes and rivers and wetlands
along one of the most scenic drives in New Zealand.
The West Coast has an abundance of wildlife.
View fur seal colonies, kiwi sanctuaries, penguins and Hector’s Dolphin,
and a variety of unique native alpine flora.
The West Coast also has the only nesting place in New Zealand of the
White Heron (kotuku), in the Okarito lagoon area.
You can take an Eco-tour to visit the area from Whataroa.
Along the way you will see podocarp forests, rain forests and coastal forests
with red flowering rata, kakabeak, yellow kowhai and nikau palms.
The West Coast attracts many Artists and craftspeople,
visit the many Galleries, Craft Shops and Museums along the way.
Driving from the south via Wanaka you will pass through
Makarora and the scenic Haast Pass.
The first place on the West Coast you will encounter is Haast;
home to some of the most extensive wetlands in New Zealand.
Just south of here you will find Jackson Bay,
which is the southern most settlement on the West Coast.
Continue on through rainforests to the glacier towns of
Fox Glacier and Franz Josef.
These towns are starting points for trips to the Fox or Franz Josef Glaciers, which are two of the world’s most accessible glaciers.
Here you can take guided tours to the glaciers, a heli-hike, land on the glacier snow or just take a walk to one of the viewing points..
Take a detour to Lake Matheson, with beautiful reflections on a calm sunny day.
Further along you will come to the main towns of Hokitika and Greymouth;
here you can shop for greenstone or jade (pounamu),
which is found in the West Coast rivers.
Hokitika was the hub of the early gold rush, and has many arts and crafts outlets.
Greymouth is the main centre of the West Coast, and from here you can take the TranzAlpine rail journey to Christchurch
Continue on to see the spectacular Punakaiki Pancake rocks,
these are a sight not to missed, especially in wilder weather,
when the blowholes are at their most spectacular.
Then on to the town of Westport, the largest centre on the West Coast and steeped in history.
At Cape Foulwing near Westport you can visit a fur seal colony.
Karamea is the most northern coastal town on the West Coast. Near Karamea you will find Oparara Limestone arches and caves.
Inland from the coast you will find Reefton, an old gold mining town or BlackBall, an old coal mining town and now famous for the Blackball Hilton, an original West Coast hotel or the Blackball sausages and salami, well known throughout New Zealand.
West Coast New Zealand
Visit West Coast New Zealand