The West Coast is memorable for its mountain peaks, massive glaciers, bizarre limestone landscapes, mysterious lakes and raging rivers, lush rainforest and a magnificent, wild coastline. It`s also memorable for its people—interesting, humorous, outdoorsy types who can tell you an interesting story or two if you have time to listen.
It is highly likely that glorious image of New Zealand you see in a book, calendar, magazine or poster is from the South Island `s West Coast. It contains the largest area of protected land of any region in New Zealand and provides access to five of New Zealand `s 13 national parks. The southern West Coast area has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its uniqueness and recognition as a `special place` in the world.
To this amazing natural landscape you can add good accommodation, fine foods, festivals and first class local guides. You can raft an underground cave, hike over a glacier, kayak a stunning lake, pan for gold and taste the traditional West Coast delicacy, whitebait. The local brew`s fine too.
In the townships of Westport , Greymouth and Hokitika , you can learn about the West Coast`s colourful past and shop for pounamu (greenstone or jade)—the local treasure that`s only significant source within New Zealand is from the West Coast`s raging mountain rivers. The Coast is one area of New Zealand you must never miss.