A weekend on the West Coast, starting in the gold-rush town of Reefton and ending in the "big smoke" of Greymouth.
2 hrs 30 min, 175 km
Starting with a wind through the wild Buller Gorge, the drive from Reefton to Karamea takes you through alongside roaring rivers, beside mountains and through lush temperate rainforest.
Stop for lunch in Westport at the West Coast Pie Company, premium wild meat pies made from local ingredients. Head north, with a detour to Denniston on the way for an insight into the hardy coal mining families who once lived high up above the Tasman Sea on a misty plateau.
Stay the night in Karamea, then spend the next day exploring the ancient limestone arches of the Ōpārara Basin, home to huge limestone caves, whiskey-coloured rivers, and the remains of giant moa who once roamed the surrounding Kahurangi National Park.
2 hrs 57 min, 196 km
The section of SH6 from Westport to Greymouth is known as the Great Coast Road, and has a reputation for being one of the world’s most scenic drives. Aside from the sea-swept vistas out your car window, there’s plenty of places worth slowing down for.
The Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes are the West Coast’s most visited natural attraction, and it’s easy to see why. At high tide, the pounding waves blast and explode through the giant rocky sea stacks. There’s also plenty of quieter walks through the surrounding Paparoa National Park, and boutique accommodation if you choose to stay the night.
Once you reach Greymouth, take a little time to explore the Coast’s “big smoke” and finish up with a tour, tasting and a hearty meal at Monteith’s Brewery.