My Shortlist Email Us
+64 9 974 1598

West Coast Complete Guide

In our ‘Complete Guide’ series, we’re going to be visiting some of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations and getting the inside track from our GO Explore followers on the best places to stay, eat, drink, sunbathe and more. Instead of just finding out what the guidebooks tell you, find out what the locals and the travellers think when it comes to the best place to get an ice cream, the best fish and chips and the best cocktail you’ll ever taste!

The next in our series of Complete Guides takes us to the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Home of some of New Zealand’s most stunning landscapes, the West Coast is a popular route for people traveling around the South Island. From the rugged beaches to the towering glaciers, the West Coast is a constant bombardment on the senses. When people think of the West Coast, they think about the glaciers and whilst they are super cool (see what we did there?!!), there is so much more to this awesome region. The lakes, gorges, mountains, beaches, rocks, railway and of course the glaciers all make this a must visit region on your next South Island adventure. Let’s find out more.

  • Franz Josef

    Franz Josef

    The natural choice when it comes to places to stay is Franz Josef Township. For many people, a trip to the West Coast means a trip to explore one of the glaciers – after all they are some of the most accessible glaciers in the world. Franz Josef

    Read More

    The natural choice when it comes to places to stay is Franz Josef Township. For many people, a trip to the West Coast means a trip to explore one of the glaciers – after all they are some of the most accessible glaciers in the world. Franz Josef is a great little township with lots going on and a busy atmosphere all year round. Franz Josef is the most popular of the two glaciers down on the West Coast. Fox also has its own township which is also nice but if you are looking for a bit more going on, we recommend staying in Franz.

  • Greymouth

    Greymouth

    Greymouth sits at the end of the famous TranzAlpine railway which will take you all the way over Arthur’s Pass from Christchurch to the West Coast. This is great for those who fancy a day trip out of Christchurch, however if you are on a road tr

    Read More

    Greymouth sits at the end of the famous TranzAlpine railway which will take you all the way over Arthur’s Pass from Christchurch to the West Coast. This is great for those who fancy a day trip out of Christchurch, however if you are on a road trip around the South Island, Greymouth is a good place to base yourself due to its central location on the coast. From here you can drive across to Christchurch, head north to the Punakaiki Rocks before taking the Lewis Pass to Hamner Springs or continue your journey south from Nelson down towards the glaciers.

  • Westport

    Westport

    Westport is another popular place for travellers to stop off on their way north or south on the West Coast. Located near Cape Foulwind where you can check out the stunning lighthouse, Westport is a great place from which to explore many of the Wes

    Read More

    Westport is another popular place for travellers to stop off on their way north or south on the West Coast. Located near Cape Foulwind where you can check out the stunning lighthouse, Westport is a great place from which to explore many of the West Coast’s delights including the Buller Gorge, Punakai Rocks and the Kahurangi National Park to the north. It’s also not far to the gold town of Reefton so with lots going on nearby, this is a popular base camp for exploring the region. With heaps of accommodation options, this is a place for all budgets.

At the southern tip of the West Coast is Haast, a UNESCO World Heritage area. From Haast to Jackson Bay to the south, there are spectacular beaches, dunes, lakes and wetlands all set to the spectacular backdrop of the Southern Alps. Haast is a playground for those who love the outdoors and is the southern gateway to the West Coast.

Best accommodation on the West Coast

Once you have decided which town you are going to base yourself in, it’s time to choose some accommodation. Whether you are looking for five star luxury hotels or a remote campground, you’re well catered for on the West Coast. With so many options to choose from, we asked our GO Explore fans for some of their top tips and this is what they came back with:

Best places to eat out on the West Coast

The West Coast is obviously pretty big when it comes to providing top tips on places to eat so we are sorry if we have missed off your favourite! The West Coast is renowned as one of New Zealand’s best places to grab some fresh seafood. The annual Hokitika Wildfoods Festival is one of the biggest food festivals where as well as getting to sample some amazing local produce, you can also delve into some of the weird and wonderful food from around the world including huhu grubs, chicken feet and locusts. These aren’t on your average menu but they do love their food down here – let’s take a look at some of the best places to eat out on the West Coast:

Best places to visit on the West Coast

With such a vast area to cover, the West Coast delivers up some pretty awesome sights along the way. Here are some of our favourites from our GO Explorers:

Best activities on the West Coast

The West Coast is packed full of cool things to do. With a huge area to cover, the range of activities are also pretty diverse from glacier hiking to gold panning to beer drinking! There are some activities that are ‘must dos’ when you are on the West Coast – a trip to one of the glaciers for example but some of the other activities are a bit more off the beaten track and will give you a different experience on the West Coast. Here are some of the top picks from our GO Explorers:

Trip Planner

  • 14
    Days

    Christchurch to Milford Sound Round Trip – 14 days

    Driving Tour

    Great news – you have 14 days off and you’ve decided to go and explore the Abel Tasman National Park before heading down the rugged West Coast and cutting back towards the Southern Alps – this is going to be a pretty awesome road trip and hopef

    Read More

  • 7
    Days

    Queenstown to Franz Josef Round Trip – 7 days

    Driving Tour

    Awesome news! You’ve got a week off and you’ve decided to take some time to explore the South Island starting off in the adventure capital of the world – Queenstown! This trip is going to take you on a real kiwi adventure through amazing landsc

    Read More

  • 18
    Days

    Christchurch to Wellington – 18 days

    Driving Tour

    The South Island of New Zealand is one of the world’s unspoilt wonders and Christchurch is a great starting point for your South Island to North Island adventure. On arrival at Christchurch Airport, head across to the friendly GO Rentals team and p

    Read More