Exploring the West Coast

Franz Josef Glacier | Image: Jackman Chiu

Exploring the West Coast

A number of attractions on the West Coast explore its pioneering and mining history, while the nation’s most famous, accessible and spectacular glaciers are also centres of activity. There’s also plenty to discover in the rainforests and gullies of the wild West Coast.

Do & Discover

History, adventure and wildlife encounters abound on the wild West Coast. Rediscover gold-rush glory at Greymouth's heritage attraction Shantytown, visit The Bushmans Centre at Lake Ianthe and the Hokitika Museum, or take in the sights with Around the Globe Gold Mine Tours in Reefton, Greymouth's Kea Heritage Tours, and Glacier Valley Eco Tours in Franz Josef. Take to the skies with Air Safaris and Fox & Franz Josef Heliservices or forge your own knife from a red-hot piece of steel at Barrytown Knifemaking. Those looking for a white-knuckle adventure can choose between the Buller Gorge Swingbridge; rafting, jet boating and horse riding with Buller Adventures (or just jet boating with Haast River Safari); caving and black water rafting with Underworld Adventures and Wild West Adventures, or a quad biking adventure with On Yer Bike! For something a little less hardcore go for a paddle with Punakaiki Canoes and Glacier Country Kayaks or, for the ultimate glacier experience, join the teams at Fox Glacier Guiding and Franz Josef Glacier Guides before soaking away the day's exertions at The Glacier Hot Pools. Answer the call of the wild with a visit to the West Coast Wildlife Centre or join Okarito Kiwi Tours and White Heron Sanctuary Tours.

Food & Drink

The West Coast pub is something of a legendary New Zealand institution. A number continue to operate in much the same manner as old, but they’ve been joined by more modern cafés and restaurants. From its first running in 1990, Hokitika’s Wildfoods Festival has grown in popularity and size to become an iconic annual event where the adventurous can sample all sorts of fare that’s very different from the ordinary! In Greymouth, try out Freddy's Café, or in Karamea, The Last Resort offers dining in the ambient surrounds of an eco-retreat. Experience West Coast hospitality in a cosy pub like Stumpers Bar & Café in Hokitika. In Westport, Denniston Dog Saloon is a cool little West Coast joint. For dinner try Hokitika's Beachfront Hotel's Ocean View Restaurant. Exploring glacier country? Good old West Coast pubs include Cook Saddle Café & Saloon at Fox Glacier with its rustic surrounds, and Hard Antler Bar & Restaurant Haast. For sophisticated dining, try The Canopy Restaurant in Franz Josef.


From modern beachfront hotels to backpackers in remote spots and resort accommodation near scenic and natural highlights, there’s plenty of variation in West Coast accommodation. For B&B try Oak Lodge in Greymouth or, for motel lodgings, Alpine Rose MotelAsure Highpark Motor Inn and Sundowner Motel can also be found in Greymouth. Hotels include Beachfront Hotel Hokitika and Punakaiki Resort. Boutique options in the area include Stations Inn in Hokitika. While exploring glacier country, cheap accommodation can be found at Franz Josef Top 10 Holiday Park. Motel options include Glenfern Villas at Franz Josef, Fox Glacier's Mt Cook View Motel and White Heron Sanctuary Tours Motel at Whataroa. For a hotel, check in at Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier or Heartland World Heritage Hotel in Haast and Te Waonui Forest Retreat in Franz Josef.

Local Knowledge

Air New Zealand Link offers flights from Hokitika to Christchurch, and Sounds Air from Westport to Wellington. By road Greymouth is 3 hours, 40 minutes from Christchurch. The region is also accessible via mountain pass from Nelson in the north and Otago in the south. Coach companies provide regular services, while the spectacularly scenic TranzAlpine rail journey runs daily from Christchurch to Greymouth. Looking for more on-the-ground information? There are i-SITE centres in Greymouth on Mackay Street, Hokitika at 36 Weld Street, Murchison at 47 Waller Street, Paparoa National Park on SH 6 in Punakaiki, Reefton at 67 Broadway, Westport at The Clocktower, Franz Josef on SH 6 or the Department of Conservation along SH 6 at Fox Glacier.

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