Maruia Hot Springs
Sweet West Coast seclusion

Romantic escapes

Maruia Hot Springs

Three short West Coast breaks for two

From bubbling Maruia Hot Springs, to the pounding waves of Punakaiki and soaring scenic flights over giant glaciers — there’s plenty of ways to disconnect from daily life and reconnect with each other on the West Coast.

Splash out for a special anniversary, or keep it simple and just spend time in nature together. Here are three short autumn breaks guaranteed to put the sparkle back in your life.

The Brewer's Night Inn The Brewer's Night Inn
The Brewer's Night Inn, Reefton

Step back in time with all the mod cons.

Starlit soaks and daytime strolls: Maruia Springs to Reefton

Wind down on your first night with some wellness at Maruia Hot Springs. Immersed in leafy beech forest with geothermal waters bubbling from below, relaxation comes naturally here.

The intimate little eco-resort has everything required for a couple’s escape — natural mineral hot pools, spa treatments and a restaurant/café with a cosy fireplace for cooler nights. Take an early yoga class, spend the evening soaking under snow-dusted mountains framed by starry skies, then snuggle into your glamping pod and drop off to the sounds of nature.

Under an hour away (via Springs Junction), Reefton lights up with creative energy and, as it happens, the nation’s first electric street lights. Behind the yesteryear architecture on Broadway, there’s plenty to discover.

Grab a decent coffee and a tasty bite at friendly Broadway Tearooms, explore blends of local botanicals and the freshest West Coast rainwater with a gin tasting at Reefton Distilling Co., or shop for antiques and curiosities at Broadway’s many Victorian-era shops.

When nighttime falls, step back in time at the Brewer’s Night Inn. Set on a tranquil Reefton street, this historic cottage has been meticulously restored and transformed into a captivating blend of rustic high-country cabin and contemporary luxury.

Getting there: Fly into Nelson or Christchurch, pick up a rental car, drive to Maruia Springs (2.5 hours’ drive from either); leave the car at Greymouth, catch the TranzAlpine to Christchurch. 

beach-front-hotel-hokitika beach-front-hotel-hokitika
Beachfront Hotel Hokitika

Seaside stays in the centre of Hokitika.

Hide away among natural wonders: Hokitika, Greymouth and Punakaiki

Start this short break in Hokitika or Greymouth. Beachfront Hotel Hokitika offers absolute seaside stays, just steps from the centre of the West Coast’s ‘coolest little town’, where local artists’, jewellers’ and carvers’ studios make for special souvenir shopping. Watch a West Coast sunset from your balcony, or with a tasty takeaway on Hokitika’s long sandy beach (Dulcie’s fish ‘n chips are the locals’ choice).

Another romantic seaside sojourn, adults-only Awatuna Sunset Lodge (10 minutes north) is small but perfectly formed — with uninterrupted sea views, attentive hosts and luxury amenities. Spot little blue penguins, kayak in the creek or just sip champagne from the garden spa pool. Also just out of town, you’ll find the West Coast Treetop Walk & Zipline for a gentle stroll or exhilarating tandem zip through the canopy overlooking Lake Mahināpua.

If you alight the TranzAlpine train in Greymouth, it’s a short stroll to the town’s newest attraction and gateway to the Pounamu Pathway, a series of cultural storytelling hubs using immersive technology to tell the story of the land and people of the West Coast/Te Tai o Poutini. The Māwhera Pā Experience allows you to discover daily life on the pā (settlement), as well as tales of conquest, travel, conflict and kinship through the pounamu (NZ jade) trade.

Once you’ve explored the 'big smoke', head to the hills to a very special treetop retreat 30 minutes from Greymouth. Brand new Te Aka Treehouse was inspired by North American tree houses that owners Lisa and Dave visited on their travels. The result: low-impact, high-comfort accommodation where you can completely immerse yourselves in the untouched beauty of the West Coast rainforest.

Next up: Punakaiki, where the pounding Tasman Sea rushes through narrow shafts and blowholes in the pancaked rocks. For alone time in nature, walk the Pororari River Track, through a limestone gorge cloaked in subtropical rainforest. For a secluded stay try the architecturally award-winning BIV Punakaiki, or Scenic Hotel Punakaiki for ocean views and stunning sunset dinners.

Getting there: Fly into Hokitika or take the TranzAlpine to Greymouth. Rental cars are available at both locations. 

te waonnui canopy restaurant te waonnui canopy restaurant
Te Waonui Forest Retreat

Sustainable 5-star luxury in the rainforest.

Giant glaciers and rainforest retreats: Franz Josef and surrounds

Spotting an ancient river of ice from afar is unforgettable; stepping on one is a once-in-a-lifetime thrill. Treat your loved one to a guided heli-hiking experience on Fox or Franz Josef glaciers — fly over the vast icescape, before roaming the surreal blues of giant ice caves and crevasses.

On the ground, the surrounding national park offers exceptional walking and hiking, including the adventurous 6-hour Roberts Point Track which ends in excellent views of Franz Josef glacier, or the short Lake Matheson walk with its mirror-like reflections of the Southern Alps.

Nearby pristine Ōkārito lagoon is perfect for a peaceful paddle a deux. Surrounded by lush rainforest and snow-capped peaks, it’s home to the rare kotuku (white heron), kiwi and other native species.

After a day exploring, try traditional tucker at gastropub Alice May, then return to tranquil Franz Josef Rainforest Retreat for some ‘spa-gazing’. Built on stilts within a lush rainforest, cosy, self-contained apartments come with comfy king beds, stylish soft furnishings, and outdoor hot tubs to make the most of the southern dark skies. Private, wood-fired Waiho Hot Tubs also offer soothing soaks day or night under the forest canopy. Add lavender or epsom salts for ultimate relaxation (BYO bubbles and nibbles).

Round off your final day with a couple’s treatment at Amaia Luxury Spa and a degustation menu at the 5-star Te Waonui Forest Retreat. Immersed in the trees, sustainable touches like natural timber details, wool carpets and organic cotton bed linen blend in with the untamed natural wilderness of the forest and glaciers.

Getting there: Fly into Hokitika, drive to Franz Josef (1 hour, 45 mins).