New Zealand’s West Coast is divided into eight distinct regions: Westport and Karamea, Punakaiki, Reefton, Grey District, Moana, Hokitika, Franz Josef and Fox Glacier, and Haast. While it might take you some time to tour this region in your motorhome hire New Zealand, the time investment will be well worth it. The West Coast boasts an array of unforgettable and unmatched scenery, whether you’re traipsing through rainforests, exploring stunning coastlines, or trekking through high mountains. The land in the West Coast never stretches beyond 50 kilometres wide, but that doesn’t mean the area is short on activity and adventure. You’ll have your choice of landscapes and geological wonders to explore, creating a road trip through New Zealand’s West Coast that you won’t soon forget. Let’s take a look at what to see in each of the eight regions, allowing you to devise an itinerary for your road trip.
Westport and Karamea
When you visit Westport and Karamea, a tour of the Oparara Basin is a must. This geological wonder combines the beauty of a lush rainforest with the distinct landscape of limestone caves. Several guided tours are available. You can choose a bush walk, which allows you to trek through the unspoiled and often untouched rainforest, encountering native species and plants along the way. Other tours focus on the limestone caves and arches, where you can get an up-close look at this natural phenomenon. So, slip on your hiking shoes and get ready for some natural wonders in Westport and Karamea.
If you’re looking for coastal views, look no further than The Great Coast Road in Punakaiki. Known as one of the best coastal drives in the world, the Great Coast Road stretches between Westport and Greymouth. It takes just 90 minutes to drive, although you’ll probably want to slow down to take in the scenery. You’ll discover plenty of pit stops along the way. Enjoy some time on 9 Mile Beach or 17 Mile Beach. Pull over your motorhome hire New Zealand to walk across the original Fox Bridge. You can even tour Punakaiki valley on horseback if you sign up for a guided tour.
Reefton, known as The Town of Light, delivers small town charm and offers plenty to see and do during your visit. Reefton is the only inland town on New Zealand’s West Coast. It boasts a rich gold mining history and, as a result, you can give gold panning a try while you’re there. The downtown area has preserved its historic feel, and you’ll enjoy stopping into shops and restaurants throughout the area. While you’re in Reefton, swing by Mauria Springs, where you can take a dip in the natural hot pools.
The Grey District is home to Greymouth, the largest town on New Zealand’s West Coast. Avid bikers will enjoy exploring the West Coast Wilderness Trail, where you’ll take in beaches, rainforests, snow-capped mountains, and rivers and lakes during your ride. For a taste of history, visit Shantytown, a city that’s preserved as an 1880s gold-mining town. Enjoy tours and exhibits here that showcase the city’s history.
Moana’s must-see spot is Lake Brunner, which is the largest lake on the West Coast. Moana sits at the north end of the lake and offers an array of dining and accommodation options. Walk the Velenski Track, which offers spectacular lake views and allows you to take in native flora and fauna along the way. For a taste of local history, visit the Moana Rail Precinct, which has been transformed into a quaint cafe.
Hokitika is the West Coast’s only full-service beachside town centre. Plus, this city is easily walkable, which makes navigating it a breeze. Naturally, this city is the perfect spot to visit on the beach day, and it boasts scenic views of Aoraki and Mount Cook. It also features a rich arts scene, with plenty of galleries worth exploring. Plus, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities. Check out Lake Kaniere or Lake Mahinapua, where you can discover walks for all skill levels.
Franz Josef and Fox Glacier
Franz Josef and Fox Glacier is known as glacier country — for good reason. The region is named after the two best-known glaciers in the region. These two glaciers are also some of the most accessible ones in the world, which means outdoor activities are aplenty here. You can go on a guided glacier hike or even ride a quad across one of the glaciers. If you want to see the glaciers by air, fly in a helicopter or hop aboard a sightseeing plane for a bird’s eye view of this region. No matter the tour you select, you’ll enjoy an unforgettable day exploring the glaciers.
Haast is a World Heritage Area that offers an array of unforgettable scenery. You can visit scenic beaches, walk alongside dunes, and tour lakes and wetlands. The Southern Alps will serve as the backdrop to your outdoor adventure. Discover scenic walks, or sign up for a boat or helicopter tour of the region. During your tour, you just might encounter some unique wildlife, including fur seals, Hectors dolphins, and Fiordland crested penguins. So, don’t forget your camera when you visit Haast.
New Zealand’s West Coast is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Whether you want to traipse along glaciers, hike through a rainforest, or enjoy a day on the beach, the West Coast has a landscape for you. So, create an itinerary and hop behind the wheel of your motorhome hire New Zealand for the road trip of a lifetime.