West Coast Activities

The main town of the Northern West Coast is Westport, with a population of approximately 6000. There is an extensive range of activities near Westport and the seal colony at Cape Foulwind is a popular attraction.

The Kahurangi National Park and the Heaphy Track can easily be reached from Karamea the Northern most town on the West Coast. The limestone arches, honeycomb cave systems, and bush walks of the Oparara basin are some of the best attractions near Karamea.

One of the most visited destinations on the West coast are the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes at Punakaiki. These fascinating limestone formations put on a spectacular spouting display in certain sea conditions.

The largest town and the commercial heart of the West Coast is Greymouth. The TranzAlpine train from Christchurch ends its trip at Greymouth which has a number of art & craft outlets and galleries and cafes.

Hokitika is the third largest centre on the West Coast, is home to many artisans using jade, glass, and other local materials to produce arts and craft which can be purchased in Hokitika.

Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier are the main tourist desitnation for most visitors to the West Coast. The glaciers are easy to visit, and it is also possible to take guided hikes and scenic flights up onto the glaciers.


  • Adventure activities: tour operators in the West Coast offer white water rafting, underground cave rafting, jet boating, horse trekking, mountain biking, kayaking, caving and a range of other activities.
  • Heaphy Track in the Kahurangi National Park: visitors can enjoy one of New Zealand's 'Great Walks' as well as a range of shorter walking options.
  • Seal colony: Cape Foulwind near Westport has a seal colony viewing point accessible by short walk. The track is suitable for wheelchair acces
  • Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and blowholes: the blowholes operate at high tide and are best on a blustery day when there are big seas.
  • Shantytown, 15 minutes south of Greymouth: a replica pioneering town with steam train rides, a working gold claim where visitors can successfully pan for gold, as well as historic buildings including the local saloon, jail, church, hospital and school
  • Blackball (30 minutes inland from Greymouth): Blackball is where the New Zealand Labour Party movement was founded. Visit the well known hotel 'Formerly the Blackball Hilton'
  • Ross (30 minutes south of Hokitika): as well as being of historic interest, this goldmining town still has working goldmines. Visitors can do a local tour from the Ross Goldfields information centre.
  • White Heron Sanctuary, Whataroa: visit the only nesting colony of the white heron (kotuku) in New Zealand. The bird's breeding season is between October and March.
  • Coastal Okarito: observe the largest unmodified tidal inlet in New Zealand and a major feeding area for birds, with over 70 species recorded
  • Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers: take a guided walk or helihike on to the glaciers

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