West Coast

The West Coast is quite unlike anywhere else in New Zealand. The coastline is strikingly beautiful with lush forests that run right down to meet wild, remote beaches and the area has a rich and interesting history that has captured the interest and imagination of travellers and storytellers across the globe.

Where is the West Coast?

Wild and rugged the West coast runs down the west side of the South island, from Westport to Greymouth, and has been voted as one of the top coastal drives in the world.

It’s one region of New Zealand that we would recommend seeing by car – simply because there is so much to see, you’ll benefit from the ability to stop off at every available opportunity!

Don’t Miss

  • Travelling on the TranzAlpine train between Christchurch and Greymouth
  • Having a go at carving your own piece of Pounamu in Hokitika
  • Tasting some West Coast whitebait – it’s the regions speciality
  • Enjoying a glacier encounter at Fox or Franz Josef Glaciers

Explore the West Coast

A visit to the West Coast usually begins at Greymouth – many of our travellers will leave a hire car in Christchurch and pick up the TranzAlpine Train across the southern Alps to Greymouth, where they’ll collect a new rental vehicle and start their west coast Adventure.

The two outstanding natural features of the coast are the Blowholes and Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki and the magnificent Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers.


Punakaiki is located 44km north of Greymouth (approx 45 minutes drive) though you might want the journey to take longer such are the views and the scenery you’ll encounter on your way. The Blowholes and Pancake Rocks are fascinating- you can read more about them here – and there’s a great easy and short walk to Dolomite Point, as well as the chance of spotting some rare Hectares Dolphins too.


Further down the coast is Hokitika. If you’ve read the Man Booker Prize winner The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton you’ll know all about the West Coast gold rush of the 1870s, and in the small town of Hokitika, you’ll find relics, museums, and historic buildings that record the hardship of that bygone age.

Also famous for its Jade or ‘greenstone’, In Hokitika you’ll find open workshops where you can see local craftspeople carving and polishing the precious stone. There are plenty of shops where you can buy a piece to take home as a souvenir.

Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers

2 hours south from Greymouth, the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers are some of the most accessible glacial ice formations in the world. There are many walks you take from the local townships up to the foot of the glaciers

Two small townships support activities at the Glacier – you can take a scenic helicopter or fixed wing flight around Mt Cook, landing on the Tasman Glacier, or choose from a variety of guided hikes.

Ready to visit West Coast? Get in touch!

Insider Tips

Steve Millard is a Jade carver from Hari Hari and he advises all of our travellers to check the authenticity of any New Zealand jade they buy, particularly from some of the bigger commercial retail outlets. “Beware of imitation jade and gemstones – if you buy from an approved carver like myself you can be sure you have the genuine article” says Steve.

Planning a Holiday to New Zealand?

Speak to a New Zealand specialist and start planning your holiday

We specialise in planning tailor-made itineraries focused on your personal interests. Want to have a chat? Our team are always on standby ready to answer your questions. Talk to someone now by calling +44 (0) 1636 813 544.

Enquire now