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West Land


Stretching 600 kilometres along the western edge of the South Island, the West Coast is a rugged, unspoilt region of contrasting features - high snow-capped mountains, towering rainforests, lowland river valleys, dramatic coastlines, bizarre limestone landscapes, grinding glaciers, surging rivers and brooding lakes. This is where natural heritage is reserved especially for you in five National Parks and a World Heritage area.

Here, amongst some of the most friendly people on the globe, you can appreciate this Southern alpine vista up close and choose from a wide range of Glacier Hiking, tramping, sightseeing and adventure activities, horse treks, Jet Boating through majestic limestone gorge, helicopter charter and scenic rides, fishing lakes or if you choose simply relax in the peace of the south!

The vivid green, heavily forested landscape supports the towns of Westport, Greymouth, and Hokitika, as well as a series of small, semi-isolated, farming, milling and mining communities.

The coast stretches from the palm beaches of the Heaphy Track in the north, past the karst cave-and-canyon landscape of Paparoa National Park and the glaciers in the south, to the Red Hills at the southern end of the Alpine Fault. Outstanding recreational opportunities are plentiful along the coast.

A River That Demands Great Respect

The Hokitika gorge is a pristine example of the rugged West Coast. A steep walled valley with cascading streams flowing off the mountains cloaked in native temperate rainforests. Local company "Riverplay" operates a unique white water rafting experience. The Arahura River, "The Pounamu River" is steeped in Maori history and deserves great respect. Legend is that Poutini, a taniwha (giant water creature) abducted a women, Waitaiki, from the North Island and fled south pursued by her husband the chief. He hid with his captive in the bed of the Arahura River but Waitaiki's husband pursued them. Poutini transformed Waitaiki into his own spiritual essence - Pounamu (Greenstone) and fled down river to the sea. Waitaiki became the mother load of all pounamu. Her tears can still be found down the west the west coast in the form of this sacred stone.


The Glacier region of New Zealand's West Coast offers many activities and things to do: Heli-hike on the glacier; take a guided glacier walk or a scenic flight over the glacier; jet boat; go hunting and fishing or take a sedate walk around beautiful Lake Matheson.

Fascinating wildlife also abounds. View the majestic white herons (Kotuku) in New Zealand's only breeding colony, see the Westland Black Petrel in the world's only breeding grounds, watch Hectors dolphins, New Zealand Fur Seals and little blue penguins playing in the Tasman Sea surf.

Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers, are a must see while on the coast. They offer top accommodation facilitys, metres from some of the best cappuccino and cafefood on the West Coast. Yet these remote villages, set in the tranquility of Westland National Park; are a wonderful relaxing bush environment with Fox Glacier being one of only two glaciers in the world that descend from crisp, clear snow capped mountains into lush green temperate rainforest.

The West Coast is also known for its World famous Pancake Rocks. Punakaiki is situated just north of Greymouth which is the largest city on the West Coast. The Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki offer one of New Zealand's most spectacular natural landscapes. This unique natural attraction is formed from layer upon layer of water sculpted limestone, resembling stacks of pancakes.

 
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