Campervan

Campervan weekend

Campervan escapes: Great places to park up and enjoy the views

Let nature inspire your weekend escape with spectacular wild landscapes, fresh air activities and the freshest local cuisine.

Freedom to roam, freedom to choose? The West Coast has the perfect menu for a memorable, get-away-from-it-all short motorhome or campervan break.

No matter whether you arrive over Arthur’s Pass from Christchurch, down through the Haast UNESCO World Heritage Area from Wanaka or via the Buller Gorge from Nelson, there’s an outstanding scenic road trip to start the adventure.

Then follow roads less travelled into dramatic and awe-inspiring landscapes, take time out in remote beauty spots to explore the trails and scenic highlights, and park up for the night in a beachside holiday spot or in a DOC-managed scenic gem well away from the crowds.

Looking for inspiration? Here’s our quick guide to some great places to park up and enjoy the views, scenic highlights, what to do and where to fuel up for your adventures.

1. Edge of Paradise — Haast, Lake Moeraki, Bruce Bay

When it comes to unspoiled landscapes, it’s hard to go past Haast — and you shouldn’t. Stop off here to discover this precious UNESCO World Heritage Area, Te Wahipounamu South Westland — gateway to wild beaches, wide blue rivers fringed by dense virgin rainforest, amazing wildlife. Watch out for tawaki crested penguins at the beach, alpine kea, forest birds, tiny Hector’s dolphins in the surf – and take care not to disturb them.

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Haast Walks

The best way to experience the West Coasts untamed natural wilderness is to simply get out there among it.

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Haast River Safari
Haast River Safaris

2. Thrills on ice — Franz and Fox Glaciers

No question, these twin glaciers are a truly unique phenomenon — the only place in the world where ice rivers penetrate into rain forest and culminate just a few kilometres from the coast. If you want to explore this icy landscape, it’s a short, scenic helicopter ride up onto the ice for the heli hike experience of a lifetime. But there are also plenty of other natural highlights, walks and hikes to pull over and discover in glacier country.

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Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers & Glacier Country

Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers

Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier are among the most accessible glaciers in the world.

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West Coast Wildlife Centre front
Look out for the bright green building in Franz Josef! The West Coast Wildlife Centre

3. Coastal gems — Ōkārito, Ross

New Zealand’s largest unmodified wetland, Ōkārito Lagoon is a tranquil haven for a huge variety of birdlife including the elusive kotuku white heron and rare rowi kiwi. While the best way to experience the lagoon is in a kayak, there are also some lovely walks leading to stunning coastal and alpine scenery. Further north, the Harihari Coastal Trail is an easy walk in a spectacular landscape or follow the tracks through the old Ross Goldfields.

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  • Cafe at the Red Sheds, Ōkārito (great coffee and baking)

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Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers & Glacier Country
$60 - $130

Okarito Kayaks

Stunning rental and fully guided kayak trips on the remote and tranquil Okarito Lagoon, with incredible views of the Southern Alps and Westland Tai Poutini National Park. Family friendly and suitable for all abilities.

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Okarito Boat Tours
Okarito Boat EcoTours

4. Get creative — Hokitika

Culture, art, literature, heritage, and a landscape to inspire your own creative juices, the ‘cool little town’ of Hokitika has all the ingredients for a satisfying arty, foodie escape. Start at the beach, a wild rugged beauty spot and home to the annual Driftwood and Sand Festival — along with the iconic Hokitika sign, you may find other fanciful driftwood artworks still on display, then check out the pounamu artist workshops, glassblowing studio and a tasty selection of eateries and bars in town.

STAY:

Hokitika Holiday Park — cabins, motels, powered sites

Hokitika Kiwi Holiday Park — motels, cabins, powered sites

Goldsborough DOC Campsite — non-powered sites

EAT:

Fat Pipi Pizza, Hokitika for whitebait pizza

Hokitika Sandwich Company for the best sandwiches

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Pounamu / greenstone carvers — Waewae Pounamu

Artist studio — Hokitika Glass Studio

Walking — Hokitika Gorge

Conservation — West Coast Treetops Walkway

Biking — West Coast Wilderness Trail

Wildfoods Festival — next edition March 2023

Hokitika - Cool Little Town

Welcome to Hokitika, cool little town. Hokitika is the only beachside, full-service town centre on the West Coast

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Hokitika TWC H G-0065.jpg
Hokitika Gorge

5. Lakeside idylls — Lake Brunner/Moana, Lake Kaniere, Lake Mahinapua

Tranquil, mirror lakes are an outstanding feature of the West Coast’s mountains to sea landscape. Beyond Lake Matheson with its famed picture postcard mirror images, there are other lesser known gems that also come with breathtaking alpine reflections, beautiful wilderness trails and lovely lakeside camping spots — DOC’s 11 West Coast wilderness campsites include five perfect lakeside locations. Within easy reach of Greymouth and Hokitika, Lakes Brunner/Moana, Kaniere and Mahinapua offer fishing (trout), boating, easy to moderate walking and biking trails, and glorious night sky viewing.

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Lake Brunner, Moana

Lake Brunner is the largest lake in the region with year-round trout fishing.

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West Coast Scenic Waterways.jpg
West Coast Scenic Waterways