West Coast

New Zealand
Punakaiki showing rugged coastline, a sunset and a bay or harbour

Wonderfully wild and rugged, this stunning region of New Zealand is dotted with rivers, forests, glaciers and gold mining towns.

West Coast New Zealand encompasses the whole stretch of the west coast of the South Island. Discover the natural wonders and wildlife of this sparsely populated region. Due to its elongated shape, it also provides scores of scenic driving and train journey opportunities along the coast.

Join a guided tour of Franz Josef Glacier or Fox Glacier to walk across the ice and marvel at the impressive surrounding mountain peaks. Drive to the nearby “mirror lake” of Lake Matheson, where the surrounding mountain scenery is reflected perfectly onto the water. Visit the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, a series of unique rock formations and blowholes from which water spurts high into the air.

Wildlife watching is one of the biggest draws to this region. Walk the coastal path to Cape Foulwind, where a colony of fur seals can be seen from specially marked viewing platforms. Take a jet boat ride up the Waitangi Taona River to see the white heron birds who reside in the rainforest. Hike through Jackson Bay fishing village and try to catch a glimpse of the area’s pods of female dolphins with their calves.

Head to the historic town of Hokitika, which was first settled in the 19th century after the discovery of gold in the area. Wander around the town’s craft galleries, selling everything from gold nugget jewelry to New Zealand jade. Pan for gold in Shantytown, a replica pioneering town where you can explore gold miners’ tunnels and ride a historic train.

Visit the region’s largest city, Greymouth. Here you can take a tour around Monteith’s Brewery and sample their popular local beer.

Fly into Christchurch Airport and take the train to Greymouth. The region is large so rent a car to explore the coast at your own pace. Visit during fall to enjoy the popular Wildfoods Festival in Hokitika, where unique local foods are served.

If you are looking for outdoor adventure and a glimpse into the country’s pioneering past, look no further than West Coast New Zealand.

Popular cities in West Coast

Punakaiki featuring general coastal views and a sunset
Greymouth
Known for Beach view, Tours and Beer
Hear tales of gold fever, try local tipple at Monteith’s Brewery Co., and explore beaches and old mining sites when visiting this coastal town.

Reasons to visit

  • Rapahoe Beach
Otago showing a river or creek and a gorge or canyon
Mount Aspiring National Park
Known for Rainforests, Jungles and Waterfalls
This South Island dreamland of pristine forests, soaring mountains, meandering rivers and spectacular glaciers is a paradise for outdoor adventures.

Reasons to visit

  • Routeburn Track
Fox Glacier showing a waterfall, mountains and mist or fog
Westland Tai Poutini National Park
Known for Glaciers, Hiking and Nature
Westland Tai Poutini National Park awaits: its glaciers, hiking, museums and more!

Reasons to visit

  • Fox Glacier
Hokitika
Hokitika
Known for Friendly people, Beach view and Sea
Explore secluded Hokitika: its beaches, oceanfront, sunsets and more!
Tauranga Bay Seal Colony which includes general coastal views
Westport
Known for Friendly people, Gardens and Relaxing
Hike or bike The Old Ghost Road, watch seals play in the waves and go whitewater rafting on the mighty Buller River in this coastal town of the South Island.
Haast
Haast
Known for Poolside bars, Excursions and Cafes
Explore Haast: its glaciers, cafes, safaris and more!