The West Coast of New Zealand is a treasure trove of lush rainforests, dramatic glaciers and untamed rivers for all kinds of outdoor adventure. You’ll also find cultural gems along the coast that offer unique and memorable experiences, such as old gold and jade mines, boutique breweries and quirky museums. If you’re bringing the kids, the West Coast is filled with quiet beaches, exciting wildlife experiences and outdoor fun they're sure to enjoy. Find out more about the best destinations for West Coast accommodation and discover what you can see and do during your holiday with family, friends or on your own.
Fox Glacier is a quaint village that’s named for the towering Fox Glacier. Located in the Southern Alps, the Fox Glacier is a popular destination for adventure in all seasons. You can visit in winter to ski or snowboard or find thrills with ice hiking and climbing on the glacial face. In warmer seasons, a popular activity is touring the glowworm caves by kayak for a truly unique and unforgettable experience. You could also enjoy water sports and fishing on Lake Matheson. If you want to stay in Fox Glacier, you’ll find plenty of accommodation options that give you access to the outdoors and practical attractions like cafes, shops and restaurants.
Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Josef Glacier is both a glacier and an alpine town surrounded by maritime rainforest in the Southern Alps. The area is popular for cycling, hiking, kayaking and more extreme adventures like whitewater rafting and skydiving. You’ll also see an abundance of wildlife in the lush rainforest near the glacier. If you’re looking for diverse experiences, the town is close to other unique places in New Zealand, such as the Tatare Gorge, the gold-mining Okarito settlement and the Okarito Lagoon, which provides a habitat for coastal birdlife. You’ll find numerous options for where to stay in Franz Josef, whether you need a large holiday home for the whole family or you prefer to be tucked away in the rainforest to enjoy the wilderness views.
With a rich history of jade hunting and gold mining, Greymouth is a great destination for cultural enthusiasts. You’ll find fascinating museums that trace the gold-mining history and lore, incredible local mining sites, as well as gourmet food and wine experiences. If you want some outdoor fun, you can try fly fishing, sea fishing, caving, whitewater rafting and bushwalks in scenic reserves. With so much to see and do, Greymouth is an ideal destination for a trip with the whole family, and you’ll find plenty of accommodation options that offer kid-friendly features like bunk beds, backyards and entertainment systems.
Nestled between Westport and Greymouth, Punakaiki is a charming community on the edge of Paparoa National Park that’s popular for nature lovers. The area is filled with limestone caves that hold fossils of large and small animals that you can explore. Punakaiki attracts many living animals, including fur seals, Hector’s dolphins and shorebirds like heron, tomtit and penguins. One of the highlights of Punakaiki is the Pancake Rocks, a unique rock formation with walkways, staircases and underwater caves that spout water at high tide. Punakaiki offers a range of accommodation options, including romantic cottages, family hotels and resorts and cosy baches near the beach.
Kahurangi National Park
Located on the northwest of South Island, Kahurangi National Park is one of the largest national parks in New Zealand and a haven for outdoor adventure. The park has a diverse landscape of marble mountains and palm-lined beaches that are home to all types of wildlife. You’ll find numerous walking trails in the park that travel through subtropical rainforest, tussock high country, coastline and river valley, so you can experience all the splendour of the landscape. One of the best places to stay to explore Kahurangi National Park is Nelson, a lively city with museums, cultural attractions, wineries and plenty of accommodation options both in and near the city.