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West Coast guide attractions, things to do, places to go

Unpack, unwind, unforgettable

TOP 10 ATTRACTIONS

Unpack, unwind, unforgettable West Coast, South Island
Where the best adventures happen and holiday memories are made

TOP SIGHTS ON THE WEST COAST, SOUTH ISLAND

The remote South Island, West Coast invokes a sense of curiosity. There are places to go that suit every taste. Glorious scenery is folded into visitor experiences from wild water jet boating, kayaking, horse trekking, bird watching on lagoon waterways and, let’s get your gold prospecting skills polished, gold panning. Let’s get you started with a bucket list of West Coast attractions.

For an overview of Aotearoa New Zealand attractions, things to do and places to visit check out the definitive New Zealand travel guide.

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Check out Amazing 12 New Zealand Attractions and pop them on your bucket list.

Let’s get started

OUTDOORS ON THE WEST COAST, SOUTH ISLAND

Where to go is outdoors. Irresistible West Coast scenery is the drawcard. The attraction of a pristine native forest wrapped around mountain ranges, lush dense coastal forests and untamed wild ocean beaches creates memory moments. Stunning, unforgettable are geological sculptural arches, layers to the world’s most accessible glaciers.

Lower Buller gorge, New Zealand @tulip.kuning
Lower Buller gorge @tulip.kuning

New Zealand’s West Coast is nature on steroids. Unpack, unwind and unforgettable, the visitor experience is summed up beautifully by the West Coast marketing slogan. Be prepared to be spoiled by the scenery and plan your return.

  • BULLER GORGE, driving along one of New Zealand’s engineering feats with the roar of a white water river jostling for attention as it surges towards the sea. The Gorge road, state highway six is a feat of engineering as a road carved out of sheer cliff faces.
  • OPARARA CAVES, Karamea area with its fascinating limestone caves & arches is captivating with its turreted smooth rock faces shaped by eons of weathering
  • PAPAROA NATIONAL PARK with Punakaiki, Pancake rocks extraordinary limestone karst formations, easily accessible and wheelchair friendly is one of New Zealand top sights
  • GLACIERS that descend into temperate forests, easily accessible and walkable is unmissable with the threat of climate change making views very poignant
  • HOKITIKA GORGE with its aquamarine water invites photographers to capture the beauty of azure water sharply contrasted with the lush forest and rock forms
  • OKARITO’S LAGOON beside New Zealand’s largest wetlands area with its resident colony of elegant herons. Quiet contemplative moments create lifetime memories
Okarito Lagoon, West Coast, New Zealand
Okarito Lagoon
West Coast characteristic tea coloured water, New Zealand
West Coast characteristic tea coloured water

Explore the diverse landscape of the West Coast from Glacier Country with its accessible glaciers and mirrored lakes to lush rainforests tumbling down cliff faces onto small river beaches. Top sights include tea washed crystal clear creeks, streams and rivers. Leaf tannin leaching tints the water with a copper glow. Marvel at geological forms from natural rock arches to the symmetry of pancake rocks at Dolomite Point and enormous granite boulders in glacial river beds. A place where nature has been in charge for millennia.

The West Coast inspires visitors to get outdoors, go for a walk and explore the landscape. Lace up the hiking boots and give it a go; it’s unforgettable.

WALKS ON THE WEST COAST, SOUTH ISLAND

Unforgettable scenery with gems to discover on numerous walking trails from an enormous Londonerry Rock towering over a denuded 19th century gold mining landscape to trails following tea coloured crystal clear water. Glacier Country offers the chance to walk through the moraine landscape of melting glaciers to the headwaters of receding glaciers. There is the opportunity to explore quiet backwaters where sand dunes lead to beaches where rare penguins nest. The West Coast is a landscape born for walkers and hikers to visit.

Undeniably the top attraction for the West Coast is the phenomenal variety of walking trails. Relish lush bush and forest scenery as you take a dip in crystal clear river pools. Enjoy spectacular views of geological rock formations in Punakaiki and observe seals basking in sun warmed rocks at Cape Foulwind.

For details about walks, getting there and walk highlights check out West Coast walks & hikes for your holiday inspiration. For tips on recommended clothing and supplies check New Zealand day walks, what to wear, supplies and fitness required. Remember to check the local weather report before departing.

Cape Foulwind seal colony, Westport, New Zealand
Cape Foulwind seal colony

NATURE – ADVENTURES ON THE WEST COAST

UNFORGETTABLE ADVENTURES ON THE WEST COAST

Waiutu abandoned mine, New Zealand
Waiutu abandoned mine
  • Kayak through Paparoa National Park through lush temperate rainforests and past soaring limestone cliffs
  • Raft the surging white water depths of the BULLER & WHATAROA RIVERS and explore rivers seldom visited. The breathtaking scenery is a bonus
  • Delve into miner’s tunnels and explore gold mining trails throughout the West Coast
  • Try your hand at gold fossicking in designated 19th century mining rivers
  • Walk among the canopy treetops or follow the coastal path to Cape Foulwind to observe a seal colony
  • Tramp the Heaphy Track through Kahurangi National Park or Paparoa National Park forest walk along tea coloured Pororari River and through ravines draped in forest greenery
  • Walk along glacial rivers and through extraordinary limestone rock caves in Karamea
  • Cycle the Coast Wilderness Trail & Charming Creek trails
  • Discover the heritage Old Ghost Cycling trail and follow the footsteps of intrepid gold miners intent on striking it rich
View towards Lyell Range from Tombstone Rock, Old Ghost Road cycle trail, West Coast, New Zealand
View towards Lyell Range from Tombstone Rock, Old Ghost Road cycle trail

WEST COAST, SOUTH ISLAND UNIQUE EXPERIENCES

Franz Josef, New Zealand - A group of tourists hiking on Franz Josef Glacier.
Franz Josef Glacier hiking
  • Hokitika Wild Food Festive where nothing is off the menu. Fancy huhu grubs (the larvae of the endemic huhu beetle) or fried grasshoppers accompanied by live entertainment
  • Pounamu (jade) workshops where you craft your own jewellery
  • Mirrored lakes, Bruner and Mathieson reflect, in their inky depths mountains and forests in sharp relief
  • Tramp / hike to a glacier. An easily walking track for all fitness levels brings you to the moraine fields of a retreating glacier which is steadily melting due to climate change. The Franz Josef Glacier walk even passes several small waterfalls

NATURE NATIONAL PARKS – WEST COAST, SOUTH ISLAND

Raw untamed natural wilderness is found in the five National Parks, two wilderness areas, two kiwi sanctuaries and a southern landscape defined as a UNESCO world heritage area. Glaciers and alpine ranges contrast with temperate forest of nikau palms. Surging white water rivers gleam cobalt blue as they roar their way to the coast. Take a trip to the ice age, unmissable things to do in Glacier Country and find the white heron and mirrored lakes reflecting the southern alps in their glassy depths.

Stand by Lake Brunner what to see and do with its inky reflective water and swamp Kahikatea dominating the watery landscape. It is otherworldly and beautiful in its remote glory.

Whip out the phone and snap a photo, get the camera battery ready for scenery found nowhere else in the world. Wildlife, the cheeky kea parrot and the tui greet visitors as they walk through lush forests. Charleston Things To Do – Best Bits offers visitors a chance to explore this wilderness and view the iconic pancake rocks, folded rock layers spectacularly spouting metres of sea water as the tide surges through blowholes.

Lake Brunner panorama. New Zealand
Lake Brunner

WEST COAST NATIONAL PARKS HIGHLIGHTS

  • Discover Westland Tai Poutini National Park, Unesco listed park, part of the Fiordland National Park experience. Glaciers, wetlands and remote beaches where endangered penguins nest offer visitors tantalizing nature encounters.
  • Find out about Paparoa National Park, bizarre folded pancaked rocks and limestone cliffs. A short walk from State Highway six carpark is packed with contrast from a forest beginnings to stunted coast grasses then opens out to the roar of the sea as tidal blowholes signal you’ve arrived at pancake rocks
Oparara cave, Dramatic Limestone Arch, Karamea, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand
Oparara cave
  • Be intrigued by Kahurangi National Park and the Oparara cave system adjoining one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, the Heaphy Track. The biggest New Zealand snail calls this place home and moss, ferns and crystal clear mountain streams invite you to linger in the quiet corners of the West Coast
  • Enjoy an encounter with a cheeky parrot, the Kea at Arthurs Pass National Park; part of the TRANZALPINE train route. A perfect introduction to the lush subtropical rainforests of the West Coast
  • Mount Aspiring National Park, a mecca for walkers intent on immersing themselves in nature where waterfall torrents gladden the hearts of waterfall fans

Read more about the West Coast National Parks

ART & HERITAGE WEST COAST, SOUTH iSLAND

UNMISSABLE HERITAGE PLACES TO GO ON THE WEST COAST

The story of human sheer determination to finish the journey to the West Coast is the story of the Coast. Uncover the human story of the West Coast on its many heritage trails.

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Abandoned places buffs – the West Coast delivers with Waiuta ghost town and a schoolhouse where the door is still open.

  • DENNISTON PLATEAU as an evocative reminder of the heyday of coal mining and the human and environmental costs of the endeavor. Easily accessible from Westport the Denniston Plateau deserves a half day exploration
  • BRUNNER MINE SITE industrial accidents and the story of extractive industry. The Department of Conservation managed heritage site has detailed information plaques describing the events of the day, the mining operation and the original purpose of the suspension bridge between the two historic sites. Brunner mine memorial is near Greymouth
Denniston coal wagons, New Zealand
Denniston coal wagons
Blackball outdoor exhibition, museum complex, New Zealand
Blackball outdoor exhibition, museum complex
  • Places rich in history, gold mining towns, BLACKBALL, REEFTON & ROSS. Discover the story of GHOST towns, WAIUTA & GOLDSBOROUGH. Learn about RUNANGA and its role in the miner’s revolt in the 1930’s and the location of the deepest mine shaft in Australia and New Zealand. The West Coast witnessed the birth of the modern Labour Party signalling the rights of workers to a fair wage
  • Marvelling at the beauty of crafted POUNAMU (jade) in Hokitika and Greymouth. Listen to stories about pounamu’s cultural significance to Maori. For visitors interested in the story of pounamu join a Maori tour of the river beds fossicking for jade and listen to the narratives of the importance of pounamu to the traditional custodians of the resource
  • West Coast ghosts, cemeteries and quirky personalities sums up the personality of the Coast. Small settlements such as Blackwater, Reefton and Kurmara where Dick Seddon, 19th century New Zealand prominent politician developed his pork barrel politics.

WEST COAST REGIONS

WESTPORT, KARAMEA AND BULLER

Westport is sometimes overlooked in the rush to Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Hokitika and Glacier Country. The quiet coal mining town is a rich repository of West Coast tales about fortitude on the harsh Denniston Plateau coal mining village. There are tales about adventurous souls establishing coal mines in Charming Creek (now an amazing shared cycle / tramping trail). Observe lycra clad surfers braving the wild tempestuous ocean swells for the perfect break and enjoy strolls on driftwood beaches.

Karamea is the end of the road yet you have arrived where you want to be. Unwind in the northwest corner of the West Coast, South Island. Places to go are deserted wild beaches and river estuaries rich in bird life. The star attraction is the incredible Oparara granite and limestone cliffs, caves and arches carved by nature over the millennium. Check out Westport Travel Guide, Karamea top sights and Day trip from Westport to Karamea for holiday inspiration.

Westport art deco town hall, West Coast, New Zealand
Westport art deco town hall
Waterfall in Charming Creek walkway, West Coast, Karamea, New Zealand
Waterfall in Charming Creek walkway

TOP SIGHTS, WESTPORT, SOUTH ISLAND

  • OPARARA ARCHES & CAVE rock network. Be viewed on a guided tour to gain access to areas off limits to the public
  • Enjoy a remote pristine outdoors fishing, rafting, bird watching or simply unwinding doing not much of anything
  • Walks are some of the best things you can do in Karamea. Lace up the boots and explore the Nikau Walk and Scotts Beach Walk. Discover a legacy of coal mining on the aptly named Charming Creek shared track (suitable for bikes and walkers)
  • Visit Westport Coal Museum. One of the world’s best museums about coal. The black ‘gold’ of the West Coast is a fascinating tale of economic wealth, personal deprivation for the miners and extraordinary engineering feats. The museum is excellent and alone, is worth the trip to Westport. The kids get to push buttons and turn a massive piece of machinery on
  • Discover the story of coal on the forbidding bleak Denniston Plateau. Find out about the daily lives of miners and the toil coal mining placed on families
  • Buller River and Murchison, the West Coast spirit although the local government boundary says otherwise and locates Murchison in Nelson. The West Coast, South Island rivers are breathtaking wild white water that foams, surges and battles its way through the gorges and river beds. The Buller is a premium white water magic rafting experience and a superb introduction to the Coast, South Island. For ideas of what to do in Murchison check Murchison Travel Guide and conveniently ignore the minor administrative detail the place is actually located in Nelson.

Read more … Westport, Karamea and Buller travel guide.

Beautiful scenery at Buller River, South Island, New Zealand
Beautiful scenery at Buller River

PUNAKAIKI PANCAKE ROCKS

TOP SIGHTS

  • PUNAKAIKI blowholes at Dolomite Point, unmissable attraction, best viewed at high tide
  • Horse riding on the beach between the pancake rocks, the ocean swells on a driftwood beach
  • Checking out Punakaiki settlement with its assortment of cafes, eateries and galleries
  • Exploring Paparoa National Park with its dramatic limestone cliffs, rivers and gorges
  • Discovering historic Charleston and joining a guided tour of the underground caves

A rock star gets celebrity status with its own entry in the hall of fame, West Coast, South Island. The much visited pancake rocks is a pocket sized marvel offering visitors a snapshot of layered rock forms complete with stupendous blow holes announcing tidal flows. Punakaiki lies halfway between Greymouth and Westport on one of the most spectacular coastal highways in New Zealand. Getting there is half the joy and you’ve just parked the car.

PAPAROA NATIONAL PARK

Uncover a national park with limestone towering cliffs, fissured rocks draped in dense forest and emerald green fern filled gullies with dense stands of tree ferns. Paparoa National Park is a place of spectacular river canyons with beautiful tea coloured water inviting you to kayak, swim and laze on small river beaches. Check out Guide to Charleston, Paparoa National Park & Punakaiki Pancake Rocks for tips on attractions and things to do.

Paparoa Track and Pike29 Memorial Track – a New Zealand Great Walk

Multiple day tramp Paparoa Track crosses the Paparoa Range. It takes you through alpine tops, limestone karst landscapes and thriving rainforests, and provides breath-taking views. For more details check out Paparoa National Park for up to date information about track status.

 

GREYMOUTH, WEST COAST & NEARBY GREY REGION THINGS TO DO

A quiet service town with a surprisingly amount of places to go and things to do.

Greymouth heritage railway station, West Coast, Greymouth, New Zealand
Greymouth heritage railway station

TOP 6 UNMISSABLE THINGS TO DO IN GREYMOUTH, SOUTH ISLAND

  • Local brewer, Monteith’s is a New Zealand legend, the 45 minute tour includes beer tasting and a chance to shop in the attached store.
  • Local walks including Coal Creek Waterfalls, Floodwall pathway and Point Elizabeth lookout point illustrate the vulnerability of Greymouth to flooding. The port with its dangerous submerged sandbars provides a fascinating glimpse of the shipping hazards
  • Explore heritage gold mining towns from Runanga Miners Hall to the quirky village of Blackball. Enjoy gold panning in Ross amidst mining relics and peek into the lives of miners in a 19th century cottage.
  • Greymouth heritage precinct walk with Greymouth Railway Station, former Government Offices, hotels and commercial buildings providing insight into the history of Greymouth
  • Brunner Mine Site and the story of the disaster that claimed 65 lives is thought provoking as you spend time looking at the Brunner River visualising working metres below the river bed in underground tunnels.
  • Shantytown replica nineteenth century village attraction is a top attraction for families. There is something for everyone with stagecoach rides, a recreated Victorian main street, bakeries and anvils replicating the sights and sounds of a gold mining bustling settlement
  • Arriving by train on the TRANZALPINE Christchurch to Greymouth with its breathtaking views. A bucket list experience for travellers to New Zealand and from New Zealand. One of the world’s great train journeys.

READ MORE … GREYMOUTH TRAVEL GUIDE 

Tranzalpine train, New Zealand @Stuff
Tranzalpine train @Stuff

HOKITIKA, WEST COAST THINGS TO DO

Hokitika, West Coast has a gloriously quirky beach specialising in driftwood sculpture, great visitor attractions from the Hokitika National Kiwi Centre, heritage trails and the striking Hokitika Gorge.The polished visitor centre for the West Coast, South Island Hokitika is known as the ‘Cool Little Town.’ Places to go, while you are not sipping delicious coffee in the many cafes are various with plenty to do and see.

Hokitika Gorge, West Coast, New Zealand. Beautiful nature with blueturquoise color water and wooden swing bridge.
Hokitika Gorge

TOP SIGHTS IN HOKITIKA, NZ

  • Shop for pounamu creations in Hokitika galleries and workshops
  • Grab a selfie moment at the irresistibly beautiful Hokitika Gorge
  • Build your own driftwood sculpture on the beach and lounge on the beach tiled sofa for another selfie
  • Get a photo of the iconic Hokitika town’s signage, an artly created driftwood creation of course
  • Retail therapy is calling in Hokitika … Raining? Purchase a waterproof jacket from the many shops while browsing in Hokitika’s galleries
  • Explore Lake Mahinapua with West Coast Scenic Waterways. Bird watching, fascinating wetlands are part of the guided pontoon tour. West Coast Scenic Waterways will transport bikes to various trail exit/entrance points on shared cycle / walking tracks
  • Go fossicking with the locals, hear stories about the cultural importance of of pounamu (jade)
  • Kayak and swim in the inky blue Lake Kaniere and consider camping by the lake to enjoy a dawn chorus from the prolific bird life

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Hokitika is one of the major hubs for the well known West Coast Wilderness Trails, a shared cycling / walking trail.

Wooden jetty bridge at Lake Mahinapua, a shallow lake on the West Coast of The South Island, New Zealand. It is roughly 10km south of Hokitika and near the small town of Ruatapu.
Wooden jetty bridge at Lake Mahinapua

WEST COAST WILDERNESS TRAIL TOP SIGHTS

West Coast Wilderness Trail rides 19th century gold mining trails. The wide well maintained trail passes water races, bushtram tracks and relics of a bygone era wrapped around glorious scenery. The wide well maintained trail passed water races, logging bushtram tracks and relics of a bygone era wrapped around glorious scenery.

Embrace everything the West Coast has to offer

  • Lush original rainforest only accessible to participants on the Coast Wilderness Trail
  • Enjoy scenery from bubbling creeks and and mountain rivers
  • Wetlands with birdlife, open to sweeping views of mountain ranges
  • Heritage corners where 19th century mining relics quietly rust
  • Heritage listed bridges repurposed as trail crossings, Totara Bridge (built in 1908)
  • Towns and villages with accommodation ranging from historic pubs to comfortable camping grounds

For more information about the trail check out West Coast Walks & Hikes.

GLACIER COUNTRY

While there are rivers of ice within easy reach of Franz Josef and Fox townships the area’s rivers, mirror lakes, seas and lagoons are the icing on the cake. An untamed natural landscape is a bucket list destination.

The two towns of Franz Josef and Fox are the accommodation and tour operator heart of the region with cafes, restaurants and places to stay. Check out What’s so great about Okarito and Whataroa for inspiration on what to do and see.

Peoples feet at Fox Glaciers, West Coast, New Zealand
Peoples feet at Fox Glaciers

WILDERNESS HIGHLIGHTS

  • Photographers dream with mirrored reflections of mountains, dense kaihiatakeri forests and flax in the still deep inky waters of Lake Gault and Lake Lake Mapourika
  • Lagoons where white herons feed and over species forage
  • Helicopter flights over the alps and glaciers
  • Trails following the footsteps of gold miners (19th century)
  • Wildlife dozing on beaches
  • White water rafting through ice carved gorges and pass water sculptured boulders
  • Waterfalls to gladden the heart of waterfall fans

READ MORE Glacier country guide: Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers – Best Bits for holiday inspiration.

HAAST PASS

The alpine roads of glacier country are narrow mountain passes where the Southern Alps are in technicolor before washing over you a sense of timelessness. There is KNIGHTS POINT where visitors view the Tasman Sea as it pounds the West Coast. GATES OF HAAST viewpoint is torrents of water, glacial blue tinted foam swirling rapids crashing over rocks. For more details about a road trip through Glacier Country check out Great West Coast road trip.

TOP SIGHTS ON THE HAAST PASS

  • Must see on the West Coast with Ship Creek area – the ancient kahikatea swamp forest provides a glimpse back in time to before people arrived on the West Coast
  • Blue Pools, often a day trip from Wanaka visitors can dip their toes into the deep glacial blue water of an alpine river
Ship Creek, Haast, West Coast, Tauparikaka Marine Reserve, New Zealand
Ship Creek

LAKE BRUNNER MOANA

Lake Brunner is a local secret. Deep inky waters are home to wild brown trout. The largest lake on the West Coast is a year round treat.

TOP SIGHTS

  • Walking trails suitable for all fitness levels and age groups
  • Water sports from SUP, kayaking to jet boats
  • Fishing with a guide or with family and friends
  • Exploring the West Coast haunts of Kumara, Greymouth and nearby Reefton

WHAT TO DO, LAKE BRUNNER, WEST COAST

Photographers relish the backdrop of the Southern Alps sharply reflected on the lake’s mirror surface. Snow tipped Southern Alps are the stuff of picture postcard scenery. In summer there are water sports from kayaking, fishing, swimming and hanging around the lake’s shoreline. Lake Brunner’s railway station Moana is a Tranzalpine stop encouraging visitors to disembark and explore the district. For holiday inspiration check out Lake Brunner what to see and do.

Lake Brunner is a hustle and bustle of a town where visitors congregate and boats are attached to every 4WD. Moana has a tiny permanent population yet in the busy summer months it is very popular as a camping spot. Pop down to the lakeside and view the activity and listen to the fishing crowd exclaim the size of their catch. Read more about Greymouth, an inland day trip to Kumara, Lake Brunner, Moana township and Jacks Mill – Best Bits.

Wharf fishing, Moana, Lake Brunner, West Coast winter sunset
Wharf fishing, Moana, Lake Brunner

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WANT TO STAY MOANA (LAKE BRUNNER)

TRANZALPINE TRAIN – MOANA

Journey in style to your lakeside accommodation and/or pick up a rental car in Greymouth.

The train passes the Arthurs Pass National Park, one of New Zealand’s treasured natural places. Panoramic windows means guests do not miss any of the spectacular views as they pass by.

FOR ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS IN MOANA CHECK OUT

REEFTON TOWN OF LIGHT

Discover Reefton as you farewell / arrive on the West Coast, South Island on your way to Christchurch via the Lewis Pass. Attractions include a local distillery, botanical gins with local ingredients or enjoy gold panning right on the main street at the Bearded Miner at the Miner’s Hut. Things to do embrace Victoria Conservation Park, the outdoors with rafting, fishing and hunting and heritage trail to an abandoned coal mining town, Waiuta.

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Want to try skateboarding, mountain bike jumps then you are in the right place, Reefton Skateboard Park, a surprising world class attraction in a small town.

WHAT TO DO, 10 TOP SIGHTS REEFTON, WEST COAST

The Lewis Pass gateway town to the West Coast is founded on gold prospecting miners intent on striking it rich in the 19th century.

  • Reefton’s past glittered. Find out about gold mining and walk the heritage trail around the town. You will walk past Reefton School of Mines, the Courthouse, Oddfellows Hall, St Xavier’s Convent and the Band Hall.
  • Bearded Miner offers main street gold panning opportunities while you watch steel being shaped by a blacksmith
  • Heritage main street with its mix of old Victorian facade buildings and functional mid-twentieth century shops. Enough heritage remains to create a Wild West image for the town’s tourism endeavors, take a stroll around town and check out heritage buildings
  • Shopping in the main street and Reefton’s byways for unique arty crafty creations, a bottle of gin at Reefton Distillery and fabulous second hand finds
Reefton main street, New Zealand
Reefton main street
The historic Courthouse of Reefton, West Coast, New Zealand
The historic Courthouse of Reefton
  • Skateboarding park is well signposted. There is a heritage train and campground next door to one of New Zealand’s largest skateparks, mountain bikes, scooters are welcome. What a great civic amenity largely built by volunteers. Reefton, it’s Awesome
  • Victoria Conservation Park is wrapped around Reefton with a network of walking tracks and top trout fishing spots
  • Reefton Visitor Center, a must-go place to catch up with up to date information, get the West Coast vibe going with a short self-guided tour of an ‘underground’ mine and mining equipment
  • Power House Trail is a short walk through regenerating forest to the site of New Zealand’s first public electricity urban supply (1888). Check travel pack section for Reefton Walks brochure

Read more … What’s so great about Reefton

ROMANTIC PLACES, THINGS TO DO FOR COUPLES, WEST COAST, SOUTH ISLAND

Ditch the flowers and visit the West Coast, South Island instead. Borrow luscious scenery and the day is sorted. Remember to pack a waterproof jacket and insect repellent; think of repellent as romantic equipment.

WHERE TO TAKE THE BEST SUNSET PHOTOGRAPHS

  • Pick a beach with its driftwood strewn foreshore, sweeping views and tumultuous seas and you have a great backdrop for a togetherness photo
  • Lake Brunner lodge as the sun sets on Moana (Brunner) Lake, check out Lake Brunner what to see and do for further holiday inspiration
  • Romance on a budget, grab a great sunset photo moment at Ross beach top ten holiday park, on the beach (sunset photo). NOTE your accommodation is a converted shipping container nestled among New Zealand flax, beachside stays don’t come much better than this budget number

… Learn more about romantic places to go

Lake Mapourika West Coast New Zealand at twilice.
Lake Mapourika, West Coast New Zealand at twilice
Pancake Rocks Cafe, Punakaiki, New Zealand
Pancake Rocks Cafe

EAT & DRINK ON THE WEST COAST

  • Sample Monteith’s local brew in Greymouth and botanical gin in Reefton accompanied by donuts from The Future Dough Co, a quaint Victorian facade venue part of the historic Reefton streetscape since 1874.
  • Take a selfie of the two of you at undeniably touristy yet charmings Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki. Enjoy pancakes, panoramic views and the visitor experience of Punakaiki.
  • Westport’s stretched out main street is home to the West Coast Pie company. If Denniston Plateau doesn’t spark your fancy then a pie shop specializing in wild game meat surely ticks the boxes.
  • Then you visit Blackball for the Blackball Hotel, a quick look over and check out the Blackball Salami Company is one of the West Coast’s success stories, shipping all over New Zealand from Blackball.
  • A touch of 19th century gold mining fever glamour is found in the THEATRE ROYAL KUMARA. Kumara’s Theatre Royal Hotel was built in 1876 and now features antler chandeliers, flamboyant wallpaper and antique wooden furniture creating the only fully restored gold miners’ hotel on the West Coast.

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You can STAY at the Theatre Royal Hotel (near Greymouth in Kumera). For road trip ideas check out Greymouth, an inland day trip to Kumara, Lake Brunner, Moana township and Jacks Mill

Kumara iconic Theatre Royal now a hotel, West Coast, New Zealand
Kumara iconic Theatre Royal now a hotel
West Coast SH6 view before Murchison, New Zealand
West Coast SH6 view before Murchison

SOUTH ISLAND HIGHWAY 6, GREAT COAST ROAD

One of the world’s top ten coastline roads (Lonely Planet) Westport to Hokitika scenery is amazing.

Take the holiday of a lifetime, the road trip where State Highway 6 is a roll call for threading your way from the top of the South Island to the bottom. The road trip skirts river gorges, remote settlements, heritage gold mining settlements and Alpine country as you pass through the Haast Pass into Otago and Queenstown. Unforgettable, beautiful remote West Coast of the South Island touring route is a must-go for visitors.

PLACES TO GO – KIWI TOWNS, WEST COAST, SOUTH ISLAND

Villages, towns spring up to as quickly disappear and melt into the regenerating bush. Remnants of buildings and graveyards are the trail heritage buffs will follow today. Industrial history fans will relish time spent on the Denniston Plateau, Westport what to see and do.

FESTIVALS

Westport Whitebait Festival – October

The elusive whitebait is avidly fished in the brief season.  competing to make the best fritter & having the town party in the streets.

Hokitika Wildfoods Festival where nothing is off the menu

Hokitika Driftwood Festival celebrates the wild West Coast beaches and the large amount of driftwood thrown up on the foreshore during storms and high tide.

Driftwood on the beach at Hokitika, West Coast, New Zealand
Driftwood on the beach at Hokitika

BEST TIME TO VISIT WEST COAST, SOUTH ISLAND

The best time to visit the West Coast, NZ is from December to mid-February.The Coast is beautiful in its remoteness and the sandflies, the summer humidity and high rain add to the charm.The West Coast is the wettest place in New Zealand making winter a toss up between the showers or days of continual rainfall. Summer is the best time to visit. Just make sure you have stocked up on insect repellent.

Northern West Coast, West Coast, New Zealand
Northern West Coast

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE WEST COAST, NEW ZEALAND

Check out our mini guide to FAQ about the West Coast from the best way to get there to where is the best location for getting around the West Coast. There are often questions about the ‘problem’ of insects and the high rainfall levels.

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High rainfall creates the beautiful lush forest you are looking at. Simply take a shot of misty emerald magical nature and wear waterproof layers.

For more tips and questions check out West Coast, frequently asked questions.

WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE ON THE WEST COAST?

Westland Weather Forecasts and Observations – MetService New Zealand

The West Coast is New Zealand’s wettest region. For example the average rainfall in Hamilton (Waikato) 1,190mm, New Plymouth 1,432mm (Taranaki)  Westport 2,274mm, and Milford Sound 6,749mm.

  • The West Coast experiences heavy rainfall in January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December.
  • October is the wettest month.
  • February is the driest month.
  • The warmest month in West Coast is January with an average maximum temperature of 19°C (66°F).

 

WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT THE WEST COAST, NZ?

The best time to visit the West Coast, NZ is between December to February when it is warmer and there is less likelihood of consistent heavy rainfall.

West Coast sunset Westport with the haze of Australian bushfires, West Coast, New Zealand
West Coast sunset Westport
@hokitikafirestationapartments
@hokitikafirestationapartments

ACCOMMODATION AND WHERE TO STAY ON THE WEST COAST

Unpack, unwind and unforgettable West Coast invites visitors to breathe deeply and relax. Where to stay choices range on the coastal strip of the South Island known as the West Coast. From northern Karamea and the Oparara Cave systems to Glacier country the connecting thread is state highway six. Inland is Lake Brunner and the holiday town of Moana as well as a network of 19th century gold mining settlements.

For more details about which is the best location check out NZ West Coast, South Island where to stay and best accommodation locations and get excited about your upcoming holiday.

FOR ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS CHECK OUT

CAMPING ON THE WEST COAST

Hang on – coming soon

TRAVEL PACK INFORMATION

HEALTH & SAFETY

SANDFLIES

Insect repellent is necessary as the swarms of black clouds of sandflies is known to cause acute discomfort to holiday makers. Repellent such as deet can be effective, but many people don’t like using it. There are numerous natural remedies available. Sandflies do not like wind, smoke and rain. Sandflies are most numerous during daybreak and dusk in humid, overcast conditions, just before it rains.

The West Coast of the South Island, particularly Fiordland, is notorious for New Zealand’s biting insects.

When do they bite?

Sandflies cannot see at night, so they seldom bite in the dark, and generally remain outdoors. Peaks in biting often occur when light intensity increases in the morning and decreases at dusk. The morning peak comes from young sandflies that have recently emerged from pupae, and the higher evening peak is often the result of sandflies taking blood after laying eggs earlier in the day.

Sandflies are most active in dull, overcast and humid conditions, when they may bite at a similar rate throughout the day.

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