An island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean, New Zealand, with the North Coast and South Coast as its two major landmasses. Both coasts are endowed with exotic scenic locations and an incredible coastal drive.
Nestled in the South, stretching from Kahurangi Point in the north to Awarua Point in the south with Tasman Sea to its east and Southern Alps to its west, West Coast is bestowed with rich wildlife and a diversified range of rare alpine flora. So, here are some must-visit locations.
First stop- Haast
Surrounded by national parks to its east, west and north, Haast is declared as a place with one of the most remarkable natural treasures in the world. The World Heritage Area is its main attraction. You will find the pristine Westland rainforests bedecking the landscape. It also offers an exceptional experience of the rugged ranges and penguin colonies which are still relatively unharmed by humans. The adventure junkies are spoilt for choice with river safaris, hunting, deer stalking, tramping, helicopter adventures, trout fishing, sea fishing and fly fishing on offer.
Heading towards north, the second stop should be Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier.
Running across the Southern Alps and lush green rainforests, both Fox and Franz Josef glaciers cascade the steep mountain sides to New Zealand’s West Coast. A long walk on the Franz Josef Glacier ice along the bushes offers a stunning view of the ice features. One can even get down to the core of the glacier wringing all the way through the blue crevasses. One can even go tobogganing or ‘Franz Shuffling’ down the walls of ice for an amusing experience.
On way to Greymouth, you will pass Okarito lagoon- a bird watcher`s paradise, and 20 minutes away from Okarito is Whataroa- a house to one of the rare species- White Heron- as it nests in the wetlands on the shores of the Waitangi Roto Stream.
After a relaxing time watching the birds, the next stop is Greymouth.
The best time to enjoy the beauty of Greymouth, one of the largest towns on the West Coast, is in the evening. The local museum and galleries tell the history of this place- known for jade hunting and gold mining. Other attractions include quayside walk and hiking on the Elizabeth Track.
Moving further north, Punakaiki is another must-visit.
The best season for leisure walks along the beach and for kayaking is the autumn. One of the most popular attractions of Punakaiki is Pancake Rocks and Blowholes- a gaunt limestone expanse which offers an amazing sight during a high tide when the water from the sea bursts through vertically aligned blowholes.
There is no better place than Karamea to end this fascinating journey through the West coast.
Situated between Southern Alps and Tasman Sea, you can enjoy mountain biking, visit the Land of Promise and the Karamea Gorge and even go heli-rafting on Karamea River.
And this is why one wouldn`t want to miss holidaying along the West Coast of New Zealand.