Escape to Nature on the Wild West Coast


West Coast South Island NZ

The West Coast of the South Island is renowned for its rugged beauty and stunning landscapes. The region offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, glaciers, rainforests, and friendly hospitality, making it a must-visit destination.

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Accommodation on the West Coast

The West Coast offers a diverse range of accommodation, from camp sites, cabins and self-catering motels, through to bed & breakfast, accommodation for groups, historic hotels, country pubs and holiday homes.

Notable towns to base yourself to explore the region include: Greymouth, Hokitika, Fox Glacier, Franz Josef, Seddonville, Kumara, Arthurs Pass, Rapahoe Beach and the stunning Mokihinui Beach.


The West Coast is characterised by its dramatic coastline, lush rainforests, towering mountains, and glacial rivers. It’s a region of contrasts, with the Southern Alps running parallel to the coastline.


Fox Glacier New Zealand

Two of the most famous glaciers in New Zealand, Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier, are located here. Visitors can take guided hikes, helicopter tours, or scenic flights to witness these majestic ice formations up close.

National Parks

The West Coast is home to several national parks, including Paparoa National Park, home to the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, and the Westland Tai Poutini National Park, which encompasses the glaciers mentioned above, the Arthur’s Pass National Park and Kahurangi National Park. These parks offer a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, white water rafting, kayaking, and wildlife spotting.


The region is rich in wildlife, with opportunities to see native bird species such as the kea, New Zealand’s alpine parrot, and the rare and elusive kiwi bird. Fur seals can also be spotted along the coast, especially at Cape Foulwind and Gillespies Beach.

There are many tour operators who will take you on a guided tour to see the best wildlife on the West Coast.

History and Culture

The West Coast has a rich history, particularly in gold mining. Towns like Hokitika and Greymouth offer insights into the region’s past through museums and heritage sites. Additionally, the Māori culture is prevalent in the area, with opportunities to experience traditional performances and learn about local customs and traditions.

Take a greenstone tour for a guided experience focused on the region’s greenstone (also known as pounamu or New Zealand jade). Greenstone holds significant cultural and spiritual importance for the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand and is highly valued for its beauty and symbolism.

Cycle Tracks

The West Coast offers some fantastic cycling tracks, catering to a range of abilities and interests. Whether you’re seeking an adrenaline-fueled mountain biking adventure or a scenic ride through picturesque landscapes, there’s something for every cyclist to enjoy in this stunning region of New Zealand. Notable cycle tracks include the West Coast Wilderness Trail, The Old Ghost Road, Heaphy Track, St James Cycle Trail and Westport to Carters Beach Cycleway.

Cycle the famous multi-day West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail from Greymouth to Ross or Ross to Greymouth. Join a 5-day adventure on the West Coast Wilderness Trail, including bike hire, shuttle transfers, accommodation and food.

Lake Matheson – NZ’s most famous mirror lake

Explore the enchanting Lake Matheson Walkway, a scenic trail that winds its way around the captivating shores of Lake Matheson. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of this natural wonder as you stroll through lush forests and alongside reflective waters, taking in breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and landscapes.

Located at the beginning of the walkway indulge in the splendor of one of New Zealand’s most exquisite locations. Take in the unparalleled beauty of Mother Nature while relishing the exquisite dining experience offered at the Matheson Cafe, where first-class comfort meets authentic charm in a relaxed setting.

Lake Matheson West Coast New Zealand

Salmon & Trout Fishing

The West Coast region produces excellent fishing for both brown and rainbow trout throughout the summer season (October to April inclusive). Join a local fishing guide who specialise in Trout and Salmon fishing in the South Island.

There is fresh salmon on the West Coast! Just one hour’s drive from Fox Glacier Village or the Haast Township you will find the West Coast’s best kept secret. Nestled in the Paringa Valley visit the Salmon Farm Cafe. Shop, cafe and salmon ponds set in a beautiful native forest setting.

History Museum

Shantytown Heritage Park provides a fascinating insight into New Zealand’s gold mining heritage and is a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike. It offers an engaging and interactive experience suitable for visitors of all ages. Offering a glimpse into the region’s gold rush era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, visitors can enjoy heritage buildings, gold panning, steam train rides and much more.

Transport on the West Coast

Taxi and Shuttle Services are available in most towns on the West Coast for cycle transport, short-distance travel or airport transfers. Additionally, shuttle services cater to tourists, offering transport to popular attractions.

Scenic Drives

These scenic drives on the West Coast offer an unforgettable way to experience the region’s natural beauty and diverse landscapes. Be sure to allow plenty of time for stops at charming towns and exploration along the way.

Great Coast Road (State Highway 6). This iconic coastal route stretches between Westport and Greymouth and is renowned for its stunning vistas. The road winds along the rugged coastline, passing through charming seaside towns, including Punakaiki, famous for its Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. Be sure to stop at various lookout points to admire the dramatic views of the Tasman Sea and the Southern Alps.

Haast Pass (State Highway 6). Connecting the West Coast with the Southern Lakes region, Haast Pass offers a spectacular drive through the heart of the Southern Alps. The route passes through dense rainforests, past pristine rivers and waterfalls, and offers opportunities for short walks to scenic viewpoints. Highlights include Thunder Creek Falls, Blue Pools, and the Gates of Haast Bridge.

Arthur’s Pass (State Highway 73). While not entirely within the West Coast region, Arthur’s Pass is easily accessible from the coast and offers a stunning alpine drive. The road traverses Arthur’s Pass National Park, winding through mountainous terrain, beech forests, and alpine meadows. Stop at viewpoints like Castle Hill and Devil’s Punchbowl Falls for awe-inspiring scenery. The TranzAlpine train offers a scenic train journey between Greymouth and Christchurch.

Buller Gorge Scenic Route (State Highway 6). This drive follows the Buller River as it carves its way through a deep gorge. The route offers dramatic landscapes, with towering cliffs, native forests, and thrilling swing bridges. Don’t miss attractions like the Buller Gorge Swingbridge and the historic gold-mining town of Reefton.

Westport to Karamea (State Highway 67). This lesser-known drive takes you through the northern reaches of the West Coast, passing rugged coastline, dense forests, and tranquil beaches. Highlights include Cape Foulwind, home to a fur seal colony, and the Oparara Basin with its unique limestone formations.

Waimakariri River Valley (Inland Scenic Route 72). While not strictly on the West Coast, this drive offers stunning scenery and is easily accessible from the coast. The route follows the Waimakariri River through the Canterbury Plains, flanked by the Southern Alps. Stop at locations like Castle Hill and Springfield for remarkable views and recreational opportunities.