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West Coast Region

West Coast Region 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.
At Fox Glacier - Mt Cook mirrored in Lake Matheson [ a very famous view ]
At Fox Glacier - Mt Cook mirrored in Lake Matheson [ a very famous view ] - Credit- Peter Hunt

The rugged beauty of the West Coast is evident in its mountains, glaciers, lakes and rivers. The bush on the Coast is always green as native evergreen trees and shrubs cover the slopes except where the bush has been felled to make way for pine plantations. The high rainfall also keeps the growth lush.

West Coast - Franz Joseph Glacier
West Coast - Franz Joseph Glacier - Credit- Wayne Johnson

Bordering on Westland are five National Parks - Kahurangi in the north, and moving south Paparoa, Westland Tai Poutini, Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks. The southern West Coast area has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its uniqueness.

The northern area of the Coast is known as Buller and has a warmer climate than further south. From Westport you can tour to Carters Beach, Cape Foulwind with its seal colony, and Denniston which is the site of the famous Denniston Incline which carried out thierty million tons of coal from a high plateau for some eighty eight years. Karamea in the far north is a fascinating place to visit and the Heaphy Track begins not far from there.

The trip along the coast south is a beautiful scenic drive and the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki are not to be missed.

West Coast - Punakaiki - Pancake Rocks
West Coast - Punakaiki - Pancake Rocks - Credit- Peter Hunt

Further south the road takes you through Greymouth and Hokitika, past Lake Kaniere and other beautiful lakes aurrounded by bush, to the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers and Lake Matheson which mirrors Mount Cook, and on to Haast, the centre for the World Heritage Centre, and the Haast Pass Road which takes you away from the Coast to Lake Wanaka. There are stretches of road through bush and amazing seascapes.

West Coast - Hokitika
West Coast - Hokitika - Credit- Peter Hunt

The hospitality industry has great significance for the Coasters, as the people of the West Coast are called. They provide a good range of accommodation, good meals, festivals like the Hokitika Wild Foods Festival, and an excellent guiding service.

  • Westport - the main town in Buller
  • Greymouth - the major West Coast town and terminus for the TranzAlpine train.
  • Hokitika - the other main centre, an old gold rush town
  • Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier - bases for trips on to the glaciers
  • Haast - the site of the World Heritage Centre.

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