Stretching from the Southern Alps to the Tasman sea, the West Coast is a slim strip of land that forms the longest region in the country.
Long and thin as it is, the West Coast is quite sparsely populated, with only around 31,000 inhabitants living within its boundaries. This gives the area a distinct identity, with the residents (known colloquially as ‘coasters’) having a glowing reputation for hospitality, friendliness and kindness.
The five national parks caught within the West Coast cover all terrains of beauty the natural world can offer. From glittering glaciers to vast lakes, soggy wetlands to rain-soaked forests – whatever you look for in the wild world of nature, chances are the West Cost will offer it.
Tours of the West Coast
If staring in awe at the majesty and mastery of nature fits your definition of sightseeing (and why wouldn’t it?!) then the first on your list of experiences in the West Coast has to be a visit to the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers.
These glaciers descend down from the Southern Alps almost to sea level. They’re rather unique in the glacial world because they are so easily accessible. A simple, almost easy, stroll can take you to their base, putting you in the perfect position to experience the truly humbling magnificence of these ice giants.
And if admiring from the shadows isn’t enough for you, strap on your crampons, grasp your picks and prepare to a heli-hike!
Soar your way to the top of the glaciers in the careful hands on experienced helicopter pilots to take the stress out of conquering mountains. Then, enjoy a hike across glacial scenery too stunning to ever forget. The difficulty of the hike can even be tailored according to your fitness level, so you won’t need to worry about losing your breath over exercise: you can just leave that to the scenery!
Best Things to do on the West Coast
If you’re after a more human historical experience, then head to Hokitika, a small town on the West Coast with an unusual past and promising present.
In 1860, the area was made famous when miners struck gold, literally, and a rush was started. Recently, the town has risen to popularity again, after the threads of it’s gold mining boom was spun into the story of Booker Prize winning novel ‘The Luminaries’.
If you’re after a more factual depiction of history, hit the Hokitika Museum, a lovely local centre that really works to bring the truth of the town’s history to life. As well as the excellent exhibits, the museum boasts some wonderful volunteers who are passionate and full of wisdom to impart about their town.
Alternatively, you can explore Hokitika over precious commodity, Jade. Prized by the Maori for its durability, they used to make weapons and tools. These days it’s worth more for its beauty, and you can take a tour of the workshops to see the careful crafting of the stone before purchasing a Jade-set piece of jewellery of souvenir to take home.
Ready to Experience the West Coast of New Zealand for Yourself?
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