New Zealand, one of the remotest islands on this earth, is full of pristine wilderness. Especially the west coast of New Zealand, known to be one of the best places on earth, is a wonderful place to spend your vacation. With just over 30000 people calling this area their home, the coastline beauty and the mesmerizing Tasman sea and Alps would fill your heart’s content.
The sky, combined with the native forests and rustic evening beaches, give New Zealand’s west coast a look that you will never forget in your lifetime. The region has some of the most serene views and is a prime location for many photoshoots.
Hiking, Trekking, Kayaking, Mountain biking, and boating are some of the major fun activities that you can do with your companions. The word adventure takes a whole new meaning here as the activities mixed with the natural view enhances the experience and gives everyone an everlasting memory.
Best Attractions on the West Coast New Zealand
#1:- Hokitika Gorge
Hokitika is a gold mining town that has long been abandoned. It is considered to be one of the West Coast’s biggest attractions. Every year thousands of tourists come here to see the stripped beaches with hugging wilderness. The crystal clear views over the Alps’ peak form one of the best places to enjoy the sunset.
#2:- TranzAlpine Journey [Arthurs Pass to Greymouth]
Considered as one of the best railway journeys one can have, the TranzAlpine journey is a must-go for everyone. You will be starting from Christchurch and ending at Greymouth via the breathtaking and lush green scenery of the Alps. This single rail journey can change your life.
Christchurch is the point from where the journey ascends and continues to go up on the scale of adventure. Soon after leaving Christchurch comes the Alpines, which is considered the backbone of the island. The snow-capped peaks and your rail traversing between that icy mystical region straight down landing at the lush green native forests of the west coast gives one of the best experiences you can have.
Personally, I felt that the best part of this journey is from Arthurs Pass to Greymouth. Maybe because I have traveled to Arthurs pass a couple of times before and to Greymouth for the first time. Never miss the wild beauty that the west coast offers during this train journey. So, the next time you visit New Zealand, don’t forget to take this single most beautiful ride of your life.
#3:- Punakaiki Pancake Rocks & Blowholes
Situated in the settlement of Punakaiki, the Punakaiki pancake rocks are another place that hardly leaves any tourists’ wish list. The place is famous for its rocks which look like stacked pancakes. This particular design has been formed due to the continuous erosion of the rocks and wind for over 30 million years. In between the rocks, many blowholes whip up salt sprays.
The best time to visit this incredible geological formation is during the high tide. We used Surf-forecast service to identify the high tide timing so that we get to see the blowholes in their maximum beauty. There will be a couple of times during a day, the waves from the Tasman sea hit the pancake rocks in their maximum force. The continuous rainbow formation when the water sprinkles between the rocks is also gorgeous.
Have a look at the video we have created from our last trip to Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes during high tide.
#4:- Glow Worm Dell West Coast
If locking at a particular place looking at the scene for a lifetime could have been possible, then the glow worm dell west coast would have been flooded with those travelers. Unarguably it is one of the best places that one can visit.
Since these worms hunt and shine during the night, it is best if you can visit the Glow Worm Dell West coast at night time. During the day, you may not see much of the sceneries.
NB:- Other than the above Glow Worm Cave, there is one more cave in this area. When we were here, we met some local people and they gave the route details to the other cave. It was night and we didn’t take notes of the route. We manage to reach the cave and it was really nice. We felt that it was better than the Glowworm dell. If any of you have information about this second cave, in Hokitika, please comment below so that we can add that information here.
#5:- Fox Glacier Helicopter Tour
The name itself explains the kind of thrilling activity we are about to discuss. This is because most of the visitors that visit these parts haven’t experienced helicopters before. And forget about simple helicopter rides. These are rides above the Fox Glacier!. Just imagine the scenic beauty you would be enjoying when you will be sky high over those thick ice beds at the top of the glaciers.
To book your next helicopter ride, all you have to do is a booking in advance for the trip and select the time slot when you are planning to visit. This is because since the demand is very high, people are allowed only in the time slots their seats are reserved.
#6:- Franz Josef Glacier Walk
The Franz Josef Glacier is one of the key locations people like to visit when they go West coast. This particular peak/glacier is only one of the three places in the world where you can see a glacier descending and fading into a temperate forest. Situated in the Westland Tai Poutini national park region, this place is bound to give you the adventure you had long been expecting.
The infamous Franz Josef Glacier walk is one of the top activities which everyone wants to complete. It is a hike that creates memories for a lifetime.
Starting at the Franz Josef village, hikers start their journey with a 45-minute walk. This walk trails everyone to the top of the 250 meters high glacier from where you will be getting lifetime-worthy memories of the greatest sceneries you will ever see.
The complete trip, including every stop and hurdle, sums up to a nearly three-hour journey. People who have little less time or want to enjoy the trip differently can fly over the glacier and directly get onto the hike on the ice. So the next time you visit the Franz JosedGlacier walk, don’t forget to sign up for the ever-amazing trek.
#7:- Hokitika Sunset
Sunsets are said to be one of the best sights in nature. And when these sunsets points are situated in a place like Hokitika, the view enhances thousand times, and you experience a vast variety of emotions all at once. I still don’t know why this came to my list. Maybe because I waited almost 1 year to see a sunset in New Zealand where the sun hide in the sea.
Situated on the tip of Hokitika, the sunset point here is one of the prime locations for every traveler. The Tasman sea and the Hokitika river sandwich the area, raising the opportunity for one of the most romantic evenings one can ever imagine. The spectacular sunrays dying on the foothills of the sunset point and the winds and waves crashing on the black sand create a whole new definition of beautiful sceneries.
#8:- Fantail Falls
This is considered one of the most favorites falls in the region. The Fantail falls offer some of the most breathtaking views that one can enjoy. The falls have a unique shape that flows the water directly into the Haast river below it. If you look around, you will see a quiet and vast wilderness full of beautiful flora. Visitors can take a walk near the falls to enjoy the moment, and one can also stand and take pictures over the stable rocks which are situated near the falls.
While you are there, don’t forget to enjoy the rugged and stunning rainforest that covers it. The iconic crystal clear glacial water is just a few minutes away from the main road, near which you can park your car too.
Located in the Mount Aspiring National park, the river and the falls are listed as one of the top spots for visitors in the region.
Near about 87 km from Wanaka and 55 km away from Haast, the fantail falls is one waterfall you can’t afford to miss. Also, please don’t forget to take insect repellant since the dense jungle region is full of insects and living organisms.
#9:- Lake Matheson
Situated at the bottom of the alpines, Lake Matheson is another lake that is the pride of the West coast—considered to be a dream destination for any photographer. The lake gives some of the most iconic views one can enjoy in their lifetime.
The reflection of the Alpines creates a whole new level of view which gives rise to photoshoot opportunities like once in a lifetime. Mount Tasman is also situated near the lake, which adds to the effects of its scenic reflection alongside the alpines. With just a 5-6 minutes walk away from State highway 6, Lake Matheson is a place you can’t afford to miss.
The west coast of New Zealand is one of the best places you can visit during your family vacation, business trip, or during honeymoon holidays. All the above attractions and locations have a beauty and a story of their own. For people who are constant travelers and have visited many countries before, don’t worry because the west coast has a beauty of its own which is completely different from any place in the world.
Make sure you select the best time to visit the places such that there is no hurry in your schedule. Taking more amount of time in hand will only better the experience you will be having because it’s impossible to see everything in one day. So come with time in hand and a plan in the pocket. We recommend at least three days on the west coast to enjoy all these activities and attractions on the above list. And make sure you charge your DSLR well to catch a glimpse of those beautiful sceneries that will completely blow your mind.