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West Coast, New Zealand

The West Coast region of New Zealand stretches 600 kilometres from north of Karamea and Westport, to south of Haast. Constrained by the tempestuous Tasman Sea to the west, and the majestic Southern Alps to the east; the West Coast region of New Zealand is no wider than 70 kilometres at its widest point.

West Coast New Zealand is a place of unique flora and fauna, ranging from alpine mountains and temperate rainforest to coastal wetlands. See the beautiful red flowers of the rata, and the yellow flowering Kowhai, nikau palms and podocarp forests.

Southern West Coast, NZ South Island

Snaking their way down from the Southern Alps to the rainforests of the coastal strip are Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier. Take some time to see these creaking rivers of ice, as they grind out the ancient rock. You can explore these glaciers by walking to the terminal face, or by taking half or full day guided hikes on to the glacier. For an unforgettable experience take a heli hike on to the middle of the glacier, before strapping on crampons and carrying an ice pick to explore the ice caves. You can also take scenic flights by plane or helicopter to view the glaciers, Mount Cook and the Southern Alps from the air. Some flights include an ice landing.

At Haast you can take a jetboat river safari on both the Haast and Waiatoto Rivers into the South Westland World Heritage area. Learn about the flora, fauna and fascinating history of the region.

On the West Coast north of Franz Josef is Okarito Lagoon, New Zealand's only nesting place for the Kotuku (White Heron). Here you can also see Royal Spoonbill. You can take a guided tour to see the nesting sights between October and February; or hire a kayak or take a guided kayaking trip into Okarito Lagoon.

Central West Coast, NZ South Island

The West Coast is New Zealand's only source of precious greenstone. Watch greenstone coming to life in the hands of expert carvers in Hokitika or Greymouth. This area is an old Coal and Gold Mining area, with lots of history. Here there are many adventure opportunities including white water rafting, caving and 4WD bikes.

Fishermen can visit Lewis Pass, Lake Brunner and the streams, creeks, rivers and tarns for great fly fishing all year round for brown trout. At Punakaiki there are the famous "Pancake Rocks", one of New Zealand's most visited attractions.

Northern West Coast, NZ South Island

In the northern region visit Buller Gorge near Westport, New Zealand for outdoor activities of all types. For nature lovers, south of Westport is the Cape Foulwind Fur Seal Colony and Tauranga Bay. Whilst there you should take a walk across the Buller Gorge swing bridge, New Zealand's longest, for great photo opportunities. Near Reefton there is Maruia Springs with a natural hot springs where you can stop and relax.

Karamea is at the western end of the Kahurangi National Park and the famous Heaphy Track, a wonderland of incredible beauty, ideal for those with outdoor interests, including caving, hiking, mountain biking, fishing and wildlife. Stop and explore the Opara Arches and Caves only available on a guided tour due to the sensitive geological and environmental nature of the area. Over 50 fossilised species have been found here, many of them now extinct.