A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!

The West Coast, or 'the Coast' as locals call it, is an untamed natural wilderness of rivers and rainforests, glaciers and geological treasures.

Michelle
Last modified: 2 years ago
A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
The swing bridge over the Hokitika Gorge, Hokitika

It is very easy to include the West Coast when planning your South Island trip. You can basically do a loop around the South Island. It doesn't matter where you begin, either fly into Christchurch, Queenstown or Dunedin or drive from the ferry in Picton.

It is better to have your own transport as the West Coast is 600km long (but never more than 50km wide). 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.

Meet the ‘coasters’ as the locals are known and you’ll find a bunch of independent, self-reliant but hugely friendly and hospitable people. Sit down and have a beer with them and they’ll regale you with west coast stories. Accommodation can be a cosy B&B, luxury lodge or character hotel; all of it excellent value.



Here are our top picks of things to see and do on the West Coast.

1. Hokitika Gorge: Vivid turquoise waters, stunning rainforest bush walk.


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Hokitika Gorge, Hokitika


2. Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier: Visit the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers. These giant rivers of ice have squeezed down the valleys to just 250 metres above sea level. Don't like hiking on a glacier? Hire a quad bike and explore the area, head to Okarito and see the Kotuku nesting area at the lagoon or join a kayak group at Lake Mapourika.

Relax after a hard day hiking in the Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools.


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Kayaking at Franz Josef Glacier - New Zealand's Biggest Gap Year - Backpacker Guide New Zealand
Day 121: Today we are joining Glacier Country Kayaks for some kayaking at Franz Josef Glacier! Join us as we hit the waters of Lake Mapourika for kayaking on one of New Zealand's most reflective lakes!


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Across Country Quad Bikes Franz Josef
We had the opportunity to work with Across Country Quad Bikes in Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand. Here is the short sizzle reel we created for their sales office. What a fun day on the Quads - Their staff are highly professional, and know the terrain very well.



A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Guided glacier walk, Franz Josef

3. Punakaiki: The pancake rocks and blowholes at Punakaiki are among the West Coast’s most famous sights and a definite 'must-see' in this region. You can also hire SUPs, kayaks


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks). 1 hour from Hokitika along the Great Coast Road.


4. West Coast Tree Top Walkway: Take in the views from the new Westcoast Treetop Walk among ancient rimu forest and listen to the native birds while walking high up in the forest canopy.


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
West Coast Tree Top Walkway, Hokitika


5. Find and/or carve jade (pomanumu): Carve your own pounamu pendant. The West Coast is New Zealand’s only source of greenstone (pounamu) with the boulders found in the West Coast rivers. In Hokitika you can take a tour and watch the greenstone carvers at work. Book a session with Steve at Bonz n' Stonz and bring home your own piece of art.


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Carved pounamu, Hokitika


6. Oparara Arches: Admire the stunning Oparara Arches in the north near Karamea and go on a cave adventure with Underworld Adventures in Charleston.


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Oparara Arches, Karamea. Photo credit Fraser Clement
s


7. The Blue Pools: Wander through beautiful native forests and over a swing bridge to experience the pristine waters of Makarora River's Blue Pools.


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
The Blue Pools, Makarora
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8. Lake Matheson: Take a short walk to Lake Matheson (near Fox Glacier) and capture the perfect photograph of snow-capped Mount Cook reflected in the dark waters.


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Reflections of Aoraki (Mt Cook) in Lake Matheson.


8. Dorothy Falls, Lake Kaniere: On the way to the Hokitika Gorge you must stop off at Lake Kaniere and Dorothy Falls. Perfect spot for those Instagram reflective shots, misty lake, beautiful and easily accessible waterfall. Only 1 minute walk from the road.


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Dorothy Falls, Hokitik
a


9. Sunset at Sunset Point, Hokitika Beach: The West Coast of the South Island has some of the most incredible sunsets on the planet! Tourists flock to Sunset Point to get that amazing shot that eveybody wants. You don't have to go to Sunset Point though - you can see it anywhere along the beach so if you don't want others around you, just move further along. Often you can find a spot where you are the only one there!


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Hokitika Sunset
Uploaded by Zappel Philipp on 2018-01-10.


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Hokitika, Sunset and Rainbow 04 Jan, 2018
Rainbow and sunset at the Hokitika River, 04 Jan, 2018



A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Driftwood sign at Hokitika Beach


10. A visit to Greymouth: Stop in at Monteiths Brewery and take a tour, taste the beers and have bite to eat. Try your hand at gold panning and take a ride on the steam train at Shantytown. Check out the Brunner Mine memorial site or walk the wild beach at Rapahoe.

11. Meet the locals, have a beer or two at a real West Coast pub: There are so many gorgeous little West Coast pubs to choose from. Cold beer and warm fires along with some interesting local characters can be found all along the coast. Stop in anywhere along your route and enjoy some real West Coast hospitality.


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Empire Ross Hotel, Ross, West Coast.
The Historic Empire Hotel
The Historic Empire Hotel, Hokitika, New Zealand. 165 likes. Hotel


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Kaniere Hotel
This place has been one of my "locals" for years. I enjoying heading down to the Kaniere Hotel and I... think the staff are great. Thats why I keep going back !! Of course they have my favourite beer on tap and the staff are always at the ready to make sure you have all you need.


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Hard Antler Bar & Restaurant | West Coast, New Zealand
Come and enjoy our iconic West Coast Bar & Restaurant with fast service and full affordable menu. Cosy fire and surroundings. Excellent lunch and dinner menus (our fish and chips are well known all over). Wide selection of draught and bottled beers featuring our Monteiths range, wines and non-alcoholic drinks, tea and coffee.


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Budget Accommodation | Hokitika Pioneer Hotel | New Zealand
Hokitika Pioneer Hotel, Country Hotel providing budget accommodation for the savy traveller.


Formerly The Blackball Hilton Hotel | West Coast, New Zealand
Our cosy hotel is the focal point of a once bustling and notorious mining village and prides itself in retaining many of the original features. An important part of Blackball's social life, it is a relaxing and easily affordable place to stay.


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Formerly the Blackball Hilton, Blackball, West Coast.


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Blue Spur Farmstay - CAMPERVAN PARK - Hokitika
Welcome! The camp site is a private spot away from it all but only 10mins to the town. Families absolutely love staying on our eco-farm among the many farm animals. Friendly free ranging kune kune pigs, goats and a flock of coloured sheep as well as our cows, peacocks and turkeys.


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Blue Spur Farmstay Eco-home Hokitika, see animals! - Arahura Valley
Stay on a farm and visit the animals. Experience an off-grid eco home, totally solar powered! Huge private room. Light breakfast provided in your room. 5mins drive to the beach and 10min from the town. Relax and take in the views of the farm + bush. A friendly and real farm experience.


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Stay on a farm! Blue Spur Eco Farmstay Hokitika - Arahura Valley
Sep 29, 2019 - 55 Views. Stay on a farm! Blue Spur Eco Farmstay Hokitika is a 1 bedroom, 1.5 bathrooms vacation rental in Arahura Valley, West Coast, New Zealand. Stay on a farm! Blue Spur Eco Farmstay Hokitika. Sustainable eco-friendly farmstay in Hokitika, New Zealand.


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
Crooked Mile Cottage - CUTE & COSY BY THE SEA - Hokitika
Sep 29, 2019 - 304 Views. Crooked Mile Cottage - CUTE & COSY BY THE SEA is a 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom vacation rental in Hokitika, West Coast, New Zealand. Crooked Mile Cottage - CUTE & COSY BY THE SEA


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
2 PRIVATE BEDROOMS - STAY ON A FARM 10min to town. - Arahura Valley
Oct 16, 2019 - 2 Views. 2 PRIVATE BEDROOMS - STAY ON A FARM 10min to town. is a 2 bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms vacation rental in Arahura Valley, West Coast, New Zealand. 2 PRIVATE BEDROOMS - STAY ON A FARM 10min to town.


A Visit To The West Coast Of The South Island Is A MUST DO!
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Last modified: 2 years ago
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