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West Coast

The West Coast, or ‘the Coast’ as locals call it, is a wild place of rivers and rainforests, glaciers and geological treasures. Never more than 50 kilometres wide, the whole stretch down the West Coast of the South Island - of which Greymouth is the largest town - is home to only 31,000 people. It’s good if you’ve got your own transport because this is a long region and there’s a lot to see. In fact, the Great Coast Road stretching from Westport to Greymouth was recently voted one of the top 10 coastal drives in the world by Lonely Planet.

Visit the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers. These giant rivers of ice have squeezed down the valleys to just 250 metres above sea level.

The pancake rocks and blowholes at Punakaiki are among the West Coast’s most famous sights and a definite ‘must-see’ in this region. Only 45 minutes’ drive from Punakaiki is the Denniston Experience, where you’ll journey by train deep into a historic coal mine for a fascinating insight into West Coast mining history.

Top Things to See and Do:

  1. Visit the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers to witness the puzzle of huge valleys of ice that extend well below the snowline, almost to the sea.
  2. A visit to the Cape Foulwind Seal Colony is a must. Because it’s a breeding colony, there’s plenty of activity throughout the year.
  3. Take a break from the land and get active on the water by kayaking through New Zealand’s largest unmodified estuarine lagoon, Okarito.
  4. Pass through varied landscapes from lush rainforest and rugged mountains to palm-fringed surf beaches while walking the Heaphy Track
  5. Release your inner explorer at Westland Tai Poutini National Park
  6. Stretch your legs and feed your soul in Mount Aspiring National Park.

Travel Tips:

New Zealand weather can change unexpectedly. Be prepared for sudden changes in weather and temperature if you’re going hiking or doing other outdoor activities.


Season: Temperature Range (Celsius)  Seasonal Comments
Spring  8°C to 17°C
Summer 13°C to 22°C
Fall  8°C to 18°C
Winter 2°C to 13°C
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