Quake-affected visitors get warm West Coast welcome
Tourists are flocking to the West Coast with all main routes open to the popular scenic region and businesses operating as normal despite Monday’s quake.
While travel along the South Island’s East Coast has been disrupted with rock falls and slips closing State Highway 1 and rail routes between Seddon and Cheviot from the quake, many tourists are making the most of alternative routes to safely visit the West Coast.
“We feel for our friends over the hill, but in the meantime, we want to extend a warm West Coast welcome to all tourists and reassure them that we are fully open for business and will give them a fantastic experience in our beautiful region,” Tourism West Coast chief executive Jim Little says.
"The West Coast is blessed with a huge array of spectacular attractions, including stunning beaches, rivers and mountains, bush-clad national parks with numerous tramping tracks, exploring Franz and Fox glaciers, visiting Punakaiki’s pancake rocks and blowholes, plus a wide range of adventure tourism activities."
He says tourists in Marlborough can drive to the West Coast via the Wairau Valley to Murchison and through the Buller Gorge to stay or stop off in Westport and Karamea then head south to Punakaiki or through Reefton to Greymouth. Those in Canterbury can reach the West Coast via Arthur’s Pass or Lewis Pass, which are both open, although the Lewis Pass is down to a single lane in some places.
Further south, the Haast Pass is also open and offers easy access to Haast at the West Coast’s southern end from Wanaka and Queenstown.
Little says all West Coast roads are basically unaffected by Monday’s quake and bus services plus flights are running as normal. The TranzAlpine scenic rail journey has also resumed between Christchurch and Greymouth.
Some tourism operators have had bookings impacted from Cook Strait ferry cancellations and road closures on the East Coast, but have had a surge of unexpected bookings from tourists forced to change travel plans, Little says.
“We are just wanting all visitors to know that the West Coast is business as usual and we’ll also be doing what we can to assist our colleagues in Kaikoura.”
For more information, please contact Tourism West Coast chief executive Jim Little on 029 770 3796 or firstname.lastname@example.org