A short break on the West Coast where mountains, wildlife and history meet.
2 hours 49 mins, 216 km
Start the day in the picturesque alpine settlement of Hanmer, known for its natural hot pool and mountain peaks. Take a gentle stroll through the pine forest or to the top of Conical Hill, before departing for Westport over the scenic Lewis Pass.
Get a final natural thermal water fix at Maruia Hot Springs or stop in at Reefton, a charming gold rush era town, with great cafés, mountain bike and walking tracks and an interesting visitor centre complete with a walk-through replica mine.
Drive through the scenic Buller Gorge before arriving in Westport. Meet the locals or visit a working mine with Out West Tours, or explore underground caves and a galaxy of glow worms with Underworld Adventures.
1 hour 28 mins, 95.7 km
A West Coast must-do, a guided tour of the Oparara Basin allows you to explore deep cave systems and huge limestone archways once home of the giant flightless moa (their fossilised remains can be spotted in the cave floor).
Take in the view from the Denniston Plateau and experience the rugged environment endured by coal miners and their families high above the Tasman Sea. For more mining history, visit the CoalTown Museum in Westport.
Finish the day by watching the sunset on sandy Carters Beach, or from New Zealand’s largest fur seal colony on the Cape Foulwind Track.
4 hours 23 mins, 323 km
Head south along the Great Coast Road, one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives. Stop off at Punakaiki, famous for its surreally shaped limestone rocks and bursting blowholes, but also home to many walks, hikes and even paddles in the peaceful Paparoa National Park.
Further south, near Greymouth, kids (of all ages) can explore the Coast’s gold mining past at Shantytown, before veering inland towards Lake Brunner. This lovely trout-filled lake is popular with Kiwi holidaymakers looking to fish, swim, explore or simply relax on its sandy beaches.
Heading back towards the Lewis Pass, it’s worth stopping in the quiet town of Blackball - birthplace of the New Zealand labour party and recently revitalised by the newest Great Walk, the Paparoa Track.