Tuesday, 30 April 2013

West Coast

The West Coast, or ‘the Coast’ as locals call it, is a wild place of rivers and rainforests, glaciers and geological treasures.



Never more than fifty kilometres wide, in the whole stretch of it down the coast of the South Island there are only 31,000 people. Greymouth is the largest town.

It’s good if you’ve got your own transport because this is a long region and there’s a lot to see.

Visit the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers. These giant rivers of ice have squeezed down the valleys to just 250 metres above sea level.

The pancake rocks and blowholes at Punakaiki are among the West Coast’s most famous sights.  The West Coast, also, is New Zealand’s only source of greenstone (pounamu) with the boulders being found in the West Coast rivers. In Hokitika and Greymouth you can take a tour and watch the greenstone carvers at work.

Meet the ‘coasters’ as the locals are known and you’ll find a bunch of independent, self-reliant but hugely friendly and hospitable people. Sit down and have a beer with them and they’ll regale you with west coast stories. Accommodation can be a cosy B&B, luxury lodge or character hotel; all of it excellent value.