The West Coast is an adventurer's dream, from winding rivers, thick rainforest, dramatic glaciers and geographical treasures, the untamed wilderness is your playground waiting to be explored. Follow the West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail on old tramlines, packhorse tracks and water races through stunning scenery from Greymouth to the gold town of Ross, or discover the natural beauty of the World Heritage Site Haas and marvel at its greenstone waters, spectacular beaches, dunes, lakes and wetlands.
Considered the heart of the West Coast, the historic town of Greymouth boasts plenty to do from sea fishing and rafting to exploring its museums and galleries and doing the Point Elizabeth Walk beginning at Rapahoe Beach. Greymouth is an ideal base for the awe-inspiring glaciers of Fox and Franz Josef and close to the fascinating town of Hokitika.
Explore Hokitika's unique history
Located on the West Coast beside the Tasman Sea, Hokitika boasts views of Mount Cook and the Southern Alps. As the gateway to the South Westland World Heritage National Park, this is a great destination to get out and explore the surrounding landscape.
Gold was first discovered in Hokitika in 1860 and the first settlers soon followed. The area was a significant river port in its time, but sadly many ships came to grief on the notorious ‘Hokitika Bar’ – due to the sandbar that shifts with each tide. Take a historic walk through the town to see beautiful old buildings and galleries specialising in pounamu jewellery and art works. Pounamu is greenstone, and the Arahura River, which enters the sea north of Hokitika is a source of this stone.
If you visit Hokitika at the end of the summer months, you can enjoy the Wildfoods Festival, which as the name suggests is a celebration of wild foods from the wild West Coast. This iconic and premier event has become very popular in New Zealand and attracts large numbers each year looking forward to the new wild foods that are introduced at each event. Are you brave enough to try crocodile bites, chicken feet, grasshoppers, colostrums cheesecake, mountain oysters and stallion protein shots? If this isn’t quite to your taste then there’s always marinated tuna, whitebait patties, smoked high country salmon and an assortment of game meat.
Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers
Travel south from Hokitika and be wowed as the dramatic glaciers of Fox and Franz Josef and see the ever changing colours of the ice caves and pinnacles. These two breathtaking glaciers are unique as their terminal face is low in altitude and easily accessible in comparison to other glaciers around the world.
Take yourself to new heights on a scenic flight to see the glaciers from a bird's eye view, or embark on a full day hike to get up close and personal to the spectacular crevasses, ice caves and formations. What better to end your glacier adventure than relaxing at Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools? Unwind in the hot pools and enjoy a rejuvinating massage or facial.
For your visit to the glaciers choose to stay in nearby West Coast towns or stay in Franz Josef or Fox Glacier Village. Both towns are in close proximity to stunning natural attractions such as mesmerising waterfalls, shimmering lakes and lush rainforests. Take a kayak tour or rent a paddle board at nearby Lake Mapourika, walk to the glow worm caves just a short stroll from Fox Glaciers' town centre or head to one of the most photographed lakes in New Zealand - Lake Matheson.