As you cruise
up the Glacier Highway towards the West Coast of the
South Island, you will be captivated by the lush hillside
overflowing with native bush such as punga and ferns that greets
you. Westland is famous for its untouched beauty, most
of it is reserved as a National Park and a mixture of plentiful
rainfall and sunshine keeps it fresh and green. Its natural
backdrop sets the scene for your entrance into the historic gold
mining town, Hokitika. Just 2-3 hours from Christchurch and with
a gorgeous view of Mount Cook and the Southern Alps, Hokitika is
the tourism capital of Westland. It is the perfect place to stay
when exploring the entire West Coast, which offers a myriad of
attractions from glaciers to gold mining towns, rivers,
rainforest and mountain ranges.
Scenic Flights - With the majestic Southern Alps, Fox and
Franz Josef Glaciers, a scenic flight over the West Coast is
guaranteed to impress. Experience the snow-doused peaks of the
3,754 metre high Mount Cook, this is New Zealands highest
mountain and is best seen by plane. Franz and Fox Glaciers, where
ice meets rainforest, are one of New Zealands most popular
tourist attractions. These huge melting tongues of ice and snow
which stretch for kilometres down into the valleys below, are
expanding at an extraordinarily rapid rate, as they are in the
middle of a major advance. Other things to see by plane are
Hokitikas nearby lakes, lagoons and large areas of
resplendent scenic reserves. Wilderness Wings, based
in Hokitika, offers a diverse range of scenic flights, from 20
minutes over the serene Kaniere and Mahinapau Lakes to an awesome
hour and 15 minute flight over the Glaciers and Mount Cook. A
flight over Westland National Parks glacial valleys, plush
rainforests and beautiful mountain ranges really is a once in a
Shantytown - After only a 30-minute drive out of
Hokitika, you will be rewarded with a fantastic journey back in
time to a by-gone era of Steam Trains, Gold Panning and
Stagecoach Rides in the West Coasts Shantytown.
Theres gold in them thar hills!
Hokitika was founded on gold prospecting in
the 1860s, with a rich supply of the precious metal, miners
rushed to the little town, which rivaled San Francisco for
growth. Shantytown will give you an overview of the gold-rush
towns history including all the ingenious ways that the
miners developed for finding gold after the easy-to-find gold ran
out. Get involved, pan for gold yourself at the Gold
Claim, and visit the miners hut and town bank where
the gold was weighed.
Other activities include a heritage steam train which leaves 8
times a day and takes you through thick West Coast native bush
and a Cobb and Co Stagecoach that rumbles down old bush road and
gives you an authentic historical journey.
Pancake Rocks - Punakaiki, an hour out of Hokitika, is the
home of some curious limestone formations known locally as Pancake Rocks. The Pancake Rocks were formed three
million years ago from dead marine creatures and plants that
landed on the sea bed; these solidified with time and were
whipped into bizarre layered designs by thousands of years of
rain wind and spray.
At high tide, the Tasman Sea swells furiously against the coast, booming up against the tall rocks with
maximum impact and creating spectacular geysers, this spit salt
water at the sky through blowholes or holes in the
rocks. Come to visit the Sudden Sound, a blowhole that releases a
majestic roar, not unlike that of a train in a tunnel, as the sea
surges underneath it through caverns and channels. Witness a
collapsed sea cavern known as the Surge Pool and other blowholes
such as the Chimney Pot, and the biggest of all
Putai. If you like to experience the spectacular
power and beauty of the ocean, while remaining safely away from
danger, then this will thrill you!
Fishing and Whitebaiting - The West Coast boasts some of the best
fishing in New Zealand and most Westland lakes and rivers are
open to anglers all year round. There is a bountiful crop of
Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Salmon, Perch and Whitebait flowing
through the rivers and lakes that surround the area. In New
Zealands clean, unpolluted waters, fishing opportunities
abound that are no longer available in many other parts of the
The powerful Grey River that flows through Greymouth offers a
wealth of fishing opportunities within its rushing waters. Lake
Brunner is the largest lake in the West Coast region, 7 miles
across at the widest point, and some 22 miles of shoreline.
Loaded with prime brown trout, the lake and its tributaries
provide superb year round fly-fishing.
February and March are the best times to check out the Hokitika
river, when an abundance of sea-run brown trout, perch and salmon
are encountered downstream, while the upper reaches supply
rainbow trout. Also try Whataroa, a nearby fishing centre
offering large catches and Harihari, located 79kms south of
Hokitika. Brown trout and an increasing number of salmon can be
encountered at Lake Mapourika, located ten kilometres south.
Guides, rental cars, vans and helicopters are all available to
help you find the perfect fishing spot on the rich and bountiful
West Coast region.