A visit to New Zealand’s West Coast probably isn’t at the top of your to-do list when you’re planning a trip to the land of the long white cloud. It’s one of the most overlooked destinations in this country – even my kiwi husband hadn’t been until I dragged him there this year. And that’s such a shame.
There is so much to see in this region and, best of all, hardly any people to share the space with!
I could write endless posts about the myriad of reasons to visit this amazing place, but you’re busy people and I’m sure you’ve got emails to catch up on or ironing to do. So here are 8 of the very best things to see and experience!
The Rugged Coastline
I’m a big fan of places where the ocean is as harsh as the coast – think the Great ocean Road or northern Cornwall – and this was like those, only turned up to eleven. Add in the fact that for much of the year you can spot cute little penguins wandering about and you’ve got yourself a winning combination.
New Zealand is big on amazing drives, but there’s none quite like the Great Coast road. Snaking between Greymouth and Westport, you’re so close to the sea that I imagine in bad weather your car would be battered by waves.
It will come as no surprise that the west of New Zealand has a backbone of peaks, but most people experience them from the east. It’s funny, as you stare at mount cook, to think that the village and Tekapo are just the other side – yet it’s a 500km drive. Let me tell you those peaks are no less impressive when viewed with the ocean at your back!
There are thousands of glaciers in New Zealand, but only two make their way down to sea level. And it just so happens that both of those glaciers finish life on the west coast, mere miles from one another. I don’t know if you’ve ever stood and stared at a wall of impenetrable, thousand year old ice, but it really is quite the sight.
There always seems to be a correlation between big smiles and a small population. So naturally, you’d expect the locals to be friendly – and our expectations on that count were more than exceeded! We were greeted warmly everywhere we went, and when I stupidly left my laptop charging in our holiday park kitchen the owners bent over backwards to get it immediately couriered to me.
The Starry Skies
With a population of just 30,000 on New Zealand’s West Coast, a third of which live in Greymouth, it won’t be a surprise to hear that there’s very little in the way of light pollution. If the clouds part you’ll be treated to amazing conditions for star gazing!
The Wild Weather
The west coast gets a bad reputation for terrible weather, but I urge you not to see it as a bad thing! Stormy seas can be just as beautiful, and far more dramatic, than calm ones. We’ve got a little dream of a long weekend holed up in some seaside cottage, waves battering the shore as we warm ourselves by a fire. Absolute perfection.
Sadly we didn’t get to see a proper sunset (see: wild weather!) but I’m told they are some of the best in New Zealand. Combining beautiful light and beautiful scenery – that’s going to be a winner for sure!
Have you ever been to the west coast? If not – have I persuaded you to put it on your list?