Palm-fringed beaches, icy glaciers, historic places and everything in between ... the West Coast stretches 600 km from Kahurangi Point in the north to Awarua Point in the south, but never more than about 50 km across between the Tasman Sea and the Southern Alps.
We’re New Zealand’s third largest region but more like a series of regions and districts, each with their own unique landscape, distinct climate, attractions and stories.
Discovering our treasures will take a while. Millions of years went into forming this land — good things take time so be prepared to stay longer!
Glacier Country conjures up images of snow capped mountains and icy slopes but this unique region puts all that together with verdant rainforest, mirror lakes, coastal wetlands and sandy beaches. Explore New Zealand’s most diverse, unaltered natural landscapes — from the mountains and glaciers to the sea — and immerse yourself in pure nature.
Off-the-beaten tourist track, the scenic northern West Coast region is full of trails to little known natural wonders. Discover subtropical Karamea — gateway to the impressive Ōpārara Arches and Kahurangi National Park — laidback Westport, home to two surf schools and a rich coal mining history, the magnificent Buller Gorge, and the lights of Reefton.
Start with the easy walk to Dolomite Point to watch the famous Pancake Rocks and Blowholes in action but leave time or stay over to enjoy a magnificent West Coast sunset. Explore beautiful walks, sublime beaches and Paparoa National Park. Get there via the scenic Great Coast Road, visiting the caves at Charleston or other little towns en route.
Largest lake on the West Coast, Lake Brunner is a favourite locals’ holiday playground. This world-class year-round trout fishing destination — famous for brown trout — is also a beautiful spot for walks, water sports or simply relaxing. The TranzAlpine scenic train (Christchurch - Greymouth - Christchurch) stops at the little lakeside town of Moana on the lake’s northern end.
Creativity spills over in Hokitika — a cool little town with more galleries and studios per capita than anywhere else in New Zealand. It began with pounamu, the precious greenstone (NZ jade) found around here; watch traditional pounamu carvers and artists from many other disciplines at work. Out of town, discover cycle trails and walking tracks, including the stunning Hokitika Gorge.
Charming, historic Reefton surprises with old gold mining tales and a main street that lights up with history. The shop fronts still have their retro style but behind the scenes there’s plenty of good food, vintage buys or even a gin-tasting at the Reefton Distilling Co. Go gold panning, explore nearby Lewis Pass, mountain bike or soak in the scenery.
Greymouth — the largest town on the West Coast — and the surrounding Grey Valley brims with adventure activities and heritage attractions. It’s the home of the nation’s original craft brewery, while historic little Blackball, which birthed the New Zealand labour movement, may be best known for a hotel curiously titled Formerly The Blackball Hilton.
The grandeur of the Haast region — a remote surviving slice of the ancient continent of Gondwana, recognised as an area of World Heritage significance — defies description. From the outpost town of Haast to the end of the West Coast road at Jackson Bay there are spectacular beaches, dunes, lakes and wetlands, all with the soaring backdrop of the Southern Alps and an outdoor enthusiast's playground.