Franz Josef Glacier, a view from Lake Matheson
West Coast
Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, West Coast
Lake Pukaki and Mt Cook
Fox Glacier Valley

West Coast holidays - Remote, wild and dramatic

Sparsely populated, the West Coast of the South Island offers a chance to see some of the most impressive scenery anywhere in New Zealand. A wild region that offers virgin landscapes and unspoiled natural attractions, the West Coast is a world away from the hum of activity in the cities. Arguably the most famous feature of the West Coast is the Franz Josef Glacier, serving as an example of the stark beauty this region has to offer.

Boasting some of New Zealand's wildest and most impressive scenery

Flanked by the Southern Alps, the majority of the region is achingly gorgeous wilderness before it levels out into a ruggedly handsome coastline.

Nature has provided a sizeable ‘must-see’ list here with Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, the Pancake Rocks and the Buller River. But away from the famous names you’ll also find lesser-known treasures including Karamea’s limestone arches.

Still relatively untouched by industry or tourism, it’s the perfect place to escape and discover New Zealand’s wild side. It makes a lovely spot for traditional tramping (hiking in the backwoods) but you’ll also find plenty of quirkier activities. In March, the annual Wildfoods Festival rolls in Hokitika and is definitely worth attending for anyone with adventurous taste buds. 

Why visit the West Coast?

  • Visit Franz Josef Glacier for astonishing icy scenery
  • Go tramping in the miles of wilderness that make up the majority of the West Coast
  • Admire the stunning Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki and Karamea’s limestone arches
  • If your timing is good, head to the Wildfoods Festival in Hokitika
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Jenn O'Neill
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