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The west coast of the South Island is an untamed natural wilderness of rainforests, glaciers and geological treasures.

Your clients can walk amongst the trees up high in the rainforest, helicopter over the glistening Franz Josef and Fox glaciers, carve their own piece of pounamu (jade or greenstone), or explore the coast’s rich gold mining history.

The best of the West Coast:

  • Glaciers – The icy giants that are Franz Joseph and Fox glaciers are accessible by helicopter and guided hiking trips, although clients can walk by themselves to the terminal face of each glacier. Visit Franz Josef Glacier Guides or Fox Glacier Guiding.
  • Geological wonders – Visitors can visit natural attractions such as the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes as they cruise down the Great Coast Road. Further north they can tour the Oparara Arches, the largest limestone formation in the southern hemisphere.
  • Pounamu – Your clients will learn the history of pounamu – otherwise known as greenstone or jade stones – at its birthplace.  See the master carvers shape it into carvings, sculptures and jewellery. 
  • Mining – Gold and coal mining dominated the area in the past, and now your clients can experience it too by visiting a host of old mines. Take a step back in time at Shantytown Heritage Park, a faithfully recreated 1900s gold rush town.
  • Hiking and biking – From smooth cycling on the West Coast Wilderness Trail to multi-day hiking on the country’s newest Great Walk, the Papamoa Track, there are many places to escape into the great outdoors. 

Trade tips

  • A great way for your clients to arrive on the West Coast is via the daily TranzAlpine journey between Christchurch, passing some of the South Island’s most beautiful scenery along the way.
  • Recommend your clients take the 45-minute walk around Lake Matheson, to capture the perfect photograph of snow-capped Aoraki Mount Cook reflected in the dark waters.

Further information

Videos on the region and other New Zealand regions
Tourism West Coast
Find an i-SITES Visitor Information Centre
www.newzealand.com (West Coast) 

Climate & Weather:



AVG High

20 °C / 68 °F


12 °C / 53.6 °F



AVG High

13 °C/ 55.4 °F


5 °C / 41 °F

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