Begin your West Coast adventure!
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It’s time to take a journey down the West Coast!
Start your journey in Westport and drop your bags off at the Carters Beach TOP 10 and head on down to the Cape Foulwind Walkway. Experience panoramic views, natural coastlines and seals! A low to moderate level walk that is about 3.4kms one way, this walk is the perfect easy adventure to start your holiday. Do as much or as little as you like, but just remember you’ve got to get back to the car! While in Westport, the Kawatiri Coastal Trail is a Grade 2 track suitable for family friendly cycling While the whole trail isn’t currently open, many of the sections are which makes it nice and easy for a family day out. The Carters Beach TOP 10 team recommend the Pūwaha section of the trail which takes you between Westport and Carters Beach. With native flora and fauna and significant Māori archeaological sites – this accessible route is brimming with local history and has much to offer.
Greymouth is your next checkpoint on your West Coast Journey. On your drive from Westport to Greymouth, a stop at the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks is definitley a must do! This is one of the more popular options on the West Coast, and there’s a reason for it. The limestone landscape has formed to look like pancake stacks and who doesn’t love pancakes! This is a great walk for the whole family, but due to the nature of the path, please make sure you stay on it! Heading on down to Greymouth Seaside TOP 10 for a night or two. While in town,unwind at the Monteiths Brewery, or even play some mini golf! For a ideyllic bush walk, head on down to the Coal Creek Falls. The path gently descends down to the valley and you’ll find yourself on the edge of the waterfall pool. If you’re brave enough, jump on in!
Punakaiki Pancake Rocks
The West Coast Wilderness trail sits perfectly between Ross Beach TOP 10 and the Greymouth Seaside TOP 10 and is the best way to be introduced to the West Coast. There are also plenty of places to hire a bike in Greymouth. The 4-day ride can be easily ridden in parts if that’s more your speed. The trail passes through ancient forests, open countryside, glacial rivers and opens to stunning lakes. Along the way there are great places to eat and stop for coffee, taking in the legendary West Coast hospitality and the friendly folk you meet will have you soon feeling part of the community. Ross Beach TOP 10 is right on the beach-front and if you’re lucky enough, you’ll be able to fall asleep to the sound of the ocean.
West Coast Wilderness Trail
Start your day in Ross and head out to the Treetop’s Walkway, spend an easy hour taking in the views from 40 metres high. Upon leaving head on over to the Hokitika Gorge, the walk that takes about an hour round trip, but don’t forget the sandfly repellent. For the best views, continue on from the first viewing platorm for 6 minutes before you reach a swing bridge. It's time to grab your camera, these views can't be beaten. Once you've finished exploring, make your way to Hokitika to indulge in a nice afternoon tea before you venture on down to Glacier Country!
Tucked away at the back of the Franz Josef township you will find these hidden gems of walking tracks. Both starting from the same point and taking around an hour each, the walk to the Tartare Tunnels path leads you at a steady incline to a tunnel within the mountains themselves. Make sure to bring waterproof footwear and torches for this as the tunnel has a layer of ankle-deep water but is well worth the damp for the chance to see the glow worms that reside inside! If you still have some energy left to burn after this, take the less steep trip to the walk, passing through lush rainforest on your way to see the azure blue mountain waters of the Gorge. Stunning photos can be taken from the bridge here crossing the river with views that will leave a lasting effect. While you’re looking through your photos from your adventure, park up at Franz Josef TOP 10 for comfortable accommodation with incredible views.
Stay a few nights and while you’re in town, check out the walkway/cycleway up to the Franz Josef Glacier. It takes you through an untamed rainforest suited for all abilities. You can even drive/cycle to the base of the glacier if you would prefer to reserve your energy for the walks coming off from the glacier car park itself. From here there are multiple tracks ranging from a short 30min return walk, to a full on 8-hour hike such as the Alex Knob walk to get even more beautiful views of the glacier. You will find multiple swing bridges as well as rare local wildlife along your trip that really enhance the experience. Proper equipment is necessary for either of the longer walks, as they involve extremely challenging terrain for even the most avid tramper, but the views will be more of a reward that you could have ever hoped for. No matter which walks suits you best, every choice will have stunning glacier valley views. Finish the day with a well-earned hearty meal back in one of the townships many restaurants.
It's time to head half an hour south and park up at Fox Glacier TOP 10. In Fox Glacier, you'll find Lake Matheson. One of Aotearoa's best short walks you'll see crystal clear reflections of Aotearoa's tallest mountain Aoraki Mount Cook. With track options of 40 minutes (wheel-chair friendly) to an hour and a half, you'll be sure to make the most of the incredible scenery of Glacier Country. If you want to jump on your bike, the Fox Glacier South Side Walkway/Cycleway is an easy Grade 2 track that follows the south bank of the Fox River. The track gently heads up the valley, crossing through ancient glacial moraine surfaces. This track is the perfect chance to learn the history of the glacier and it’s surrounding forest. The perk of this track is you can also walk it!
The West Coast is full of adventures. Whether you’re here for work, or a good old kiwi road trip – the West Coast will keep you entertained and provide you with incredible new Memories for Life.
Heading up from the South? Just flip the plan around and start in Fox Glacier and finish in Westport!