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west coast regional information | back to visitor information

In New Zealand, the 'West Coast' generally refers to the narrow strip of land between the South Island's Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea.

The West Coast is memorable for its mountain peaks, massive glaciers, bizarre limestone landscapes, mysterious lakes and raging rivers, lush rainforest and a magnificent, wild coastline. It contains the largest area of protected land of any region in New Zealand and provides access to five of New Zealand's 13 national parks.

This amazing natural landscape offers good accommodation, fine foods and festivals. You can raft an underground cave, hike over a glacier, kayak a stunning lake, pan for gold and taste the traditional West Coast delicacy, whitebait.
In the townships of Westport, Greymouth and Hokitika, you can learn about the West Coast's colourful past and shop for pounamu (greenstone or jade).

For some suggested itineraries that include the West Coast, please click here.

top attractions

  • Franz Josef GlacierTry rafting, caving, jetboating or even cave rafting for some underground fun in Greymouth.
  • There are also some great walking tracks.
  • Take a guided walk on the Fox or Franz Josef glaciers or take a helihike to the top levels of the glacier.
  • Marvel at the view of the mountains from Lake Matheson (near Fox Glacier). If conditions are good they will be perfectly reflected in the lake.
  • St James Church is famous for its view of the Franz Josef Valley through the altar window.
  • Sample the local delicacy - whitebait.
  • Reflect on the region's gold rush history (old machinery, tunnels and ghost towns are everywhere) where you can still go gold panning.
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