Touring routes

Queenstown to Nelson

Travel the length of the West Coast from Queenstown all the way through to Nelson. The West Coast is the longest region in the country, so no two places look the same.

Road trips
4 Nights 5 days
525 mi/845 km
Best time

Day 1: Queenstown to Haast

2 hours 57 mins, 209 km

Drive from Queenstown to Haast via State Highway 6. This is a great scenic drive and enjoy the UNESCO World Heritage Area. Haast is West Coast Whitebait country, we recommend staying here for the night!

From Haast to Jackson Bay there are empty shingle beaches, dunes, lakes and wetlands, all with the soaring backdrop of the Southern Alps.

Tramping, hunting and if you want speed, jet boating tours with Waiatoto River Safari or Haast River Safari on the local rivers are available. There is an abundance of wildlife and tours to view fur seals, Hectors Dolphins and Fiordland Crested Penguins.

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Day 2: Haast to Glacier Country

1 hour 58 mins, 144 km

Fox Glacier village has a relaxed, quaint village feel. Home to the Fox Glacier, it offers a range of adventure activities as well as access to some of the West Coast's most scenic spots.

The ‘must do’ walk is Lake Matheson. This is the most photographed lake in New Zealand with good reason. Carry on down the road to Gillespies Beach.

Bruce Bay - or Mahitahi - is a small coastal settlement with stunning sea vistas and a wonderfully wild windswept beach, 40km south of Fox Glacier and 80 km from Haast.

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Day 3: Glacier Country to Hokitika

1 hour 44 mins, 134 km

Ōkārito and Whataroa are a 'must-explore' for nature and wildlife lovers. Okarito is definitely worth a stop – NZ’s largest unmodified wetland –and a bird watchers paradise! Hire a kayak or grab a boat tour.

Down the road you will come to Ross, famous for being the spot where New Zealand’s largest ever gold nugget was unearthed - the “Roddy Nugget”, weighing a massive 3.1kg.

Hire a gold pan to try your hand at the Ross Goldfields Information Centre. Then take a drive to West Coast Treetop Walk & Cafe. An exhilarating tree top adventure among temperate rainforest giants waits for you.

Hokitika was once a Goldfields Capital and Port. Visit the Museum, view artisans working gold, pounamu, precious stones, wood, metals and glass.

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Day 4: Hokitika to Greymouth

31 mins, 38.9 km

Greymouth and the surrounding Grey Valley offer adventure activities, heritage attractions and guided nature tours.

The Greymouth and Grey Valley area takes in Blackball, Nelson Creek, Stillwater and Greymouth.

Visit Shantytown - a replica of an 1880's gold town.

Get muddy on a quad bike tour at On Yer bike, enjoy one of the multitude of local walking tracks.

Whether you decide to stay in Greymouth or Hokitika there is a great range of accommodation and dining available with friendly locals to point you in the right direction.

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Day 5: Greymouth to Westport

1 hour 28 mins, 101 km

The Great Coast Road is the most spectacular way to see the untamed, natural, wilderness of the West Coast. Head to Punakaiki, world famous for its pancake rocks, blowholes.

Head to Charleston, experience underground rafting and caving with Underworld Adventures. Continue to Westport, known for its rich coal mining history in addition to its abundant unique natural attractions.

Oparara limestone arches are in Karamea and Kahurangi National Park, see the seal colony at Cape Foulwind, or the beauty of Carters Beach.

You could even try and stay on a surf board with an amazing teacher at Bazil’s Surf School or take a bike ride on the Heaphy Track - offering the only multi-day cycle course through a national park in New Zealand.

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Day 5: Westport to Nelson

2 hours 50 mins, 217 km

Before heading to Nelson swing by the Buller Gorge Swing-bridge which is New Zealand’s longest swing bridge, and stands a clear 17 metres above the Buller River and spans 110m.

For an adrenaline rush take a spin on the Buller Canyon Jet.

From there your travels take you toward the Nelson/Marlborough region.

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