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West CoastNew Zealand

Punakaiki featuring a bay or harbour, a sandy beach and rugged coastline

Find wild coastlines and awe-inspiring glaciers in this remote area of New Zealand where the Southern Alps tower over green forests.

Journey through West Coast New Zealand to embrace a forested wilderness. Indulge in a gourmet dining experience by the fire. Walk over the creaking ice of an ancient glacier, cruise down blue-green rivers and soak in hot thermal pools.

Pull on warm clothes and visit the Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier. These spectacular glaciers are located about 23 kilometres (14 miles) apart on the main coastal highway. Walk to them via lush rainforest trails. Get the best views on an exciting helicopter tour through mountains and over sparkling ice.

Luxuriate in the steaming waters of nearby Glacier Hot Pools at Franz Josef town. Relax in the peaceful environment of natural thermal springs while surrounded by delicate forest ferns. Pay entry fees on arrival or book ahead in high season to guarantee entrance.

Stay in the pretty town of Karamea to explore its beautiful natural landscape. Hike part of the famous Heaphy Track for a day or book overnight huts for a 5-day adventure. The track is suitable for families.

Visit the Oparara Valley at the southern border of the incredible Kahurangi National Park, a short drive from Karamea. Here, find the amazing Honeycomb Hill Caves and the limestone Oparara Arch and Moria Gate Arch. See the blowholes of Punakaiki along the coast.

Be amazed by vivid blue-green waters in the Hokitika Gorge located 33 kilometres (20 miles) from the picturesque farming town of Hokitika. The easy entry track has wheelchair access and unforgettable views. Try a whitewater kayak trip near the gorge for an excitement-filled day.

Experience stunning scenery at the Cape Foulwind Seal Colony. Watch entertaining marine mammals playing in rock pools and basking in the sun. Sunsets are particularly spectacular so bring your camera to take amazing photos.

Access West Coast New Zealand most easily by car or bus. It contains some of the country’s best scenic drives. Stop at the excellent accommodation options and restaurants throughout the region while you enjoy the trip of a lifetime.

Popular cities in West Coast

Punakaiki showing general coastal views and a sunset
Known for Beach View, Tour 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

  • Pancake Rocks
  • Pororari River Track
  • Paparoa National Park
Fox Glacier showing a cascade, mountains and mist or fog
Westland Tai Poutini National Park
Known for Natural Park, Museum and Nature

Reasons to visit

  • Aoraki / Mount Cook
  • Hooker Valley Track
  • Fox Glacier
Tauranga Bay Seal Colony which includes general coastal views
Known for Friendly People, Garden 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.

Reasons to visit

  • Carters Beach