When it comes to magic sunsets, the West Coast — almost 600 km of coastline facing due west — has a front row seat.
There’s something immensely calming about quietly watching the sun go down over the vast expanse of the Tasman Sea — next stop Australia. Beautiful. Look east at sunset and you’ll witness our snow capped mountain ranges tinged with rosy, soft pink glows. Magnificent.
Here’s our list of a few choice ways to enjoy a brilliant West Coast sunset on a calm autumn evening.
Discover Lake Mahināpua — popular for water sports, camping, cycling and walking — on the West Coast Wilderness Trail.
Put your feet up, raise a glass and follow in the wake of those hardy pioneers who once traversed Lake Mahinapua and the historic network of coastal wetland waterways south of Hokitika.
West Coast Scenic Waterways run guided sunset cruises on the Eco Adventurer, exploring the tranquil waters and brooding forest remnants — a photographer’s dream canvas as the mountains light up in successive waves of pink.
Located right on the West Coast Wilderness Trail (walking and hiking), the hospitable folks at Scenic Waterways also offer comfortable accommodation with hot tubs, freedom single and tandem kayaks, mountain and e-bike hire. Lake Mahinapua is 10km south of Hokitika.
Discover Lake Mapourika — a scenic gem and wildlife sanctuary near the glaciers — with Franz Josef Wilderness Tours.
What’s not to like about the idea of effortless paddling over calm waters in soft evening light with an unbeatable Southern Alps backdrop?
Pick up your paddles and let Franz Josef Wilderness Tours take you on a guided sunset classic kayak tour — 3 hours of real gentle paddling, landing back at the beach in time to watch the sun set below the hills. This premium tour runs until 31 March but, as the season goes on, the afternoon classic tour also returns as the sun sets.
South Westland’s largest mirror lake, Lake Mapourika is surrounded by serene rainforests and spectacular panoramas including Aoraki/Mount Cook. This kettle lake, just north of Franz Josef, was created 14,000 years ago as the glacier retreated after a significant ice age.
Take a walk with Glacier Valley Eco Tours to learn about the region's fascinating natural environment and geology.
Sunset is the magic hour at lovely Lake Matheson, famed for its stunning picture-perfect mountain reflections.
To capture the best dream shots for your ‘gram, Glacier Valley Eco Tours have an early evening nature tour around Lake Matheson. The walk is pretty perfect, too, along an easy track through ancient rainforest, across little bridges and boardwalks over multiple mountain streams to the inky waters and incredible reflections.
Suitable for all ages and abilities, this walking tour (3.5 hr, 4.4 km) is a fascinating intro into the region’s flora, fauna, glaciation, geology and natural history. There’s also a shorter early morning bird chorus tour.
Woodpecker Hut is an off-grid luxury glamping site in a secluded spot beside the ocean and close to Punakaiki.
Forget the seaside strips in the hot tourist spots, check out the West Coast’s absolute beachfront camping, eco and luxury accommodations.
Beachfront Hotel, Hokitika — let the primeval beat of the waves rolling in, rock you to sleep. Five room categories, and an in-house restaurant with Tasman Sea sunset views.
Breakers Boutique Accommodation, Greymouth — chill out between mountains and sea, enjoy sea views from the bird-filled garden, follow a private track down to the beach.
Carter’s Beach Top 10, Westport – awake to the sound of the waves, safe swimming by day, family friendly, bonfires on the beach at night.
Ocean View Retreat, Punakaiki — feel the sand between your toes when you step outside, 63 rooms with ocean and rainforest views, dine in at Jacob’s Grill.
Ross Beach Top 10 Holiday Park — dress circle ocean views, funky refitted luxury container pods complete with ensuites, right on the Wilderness Trail.