Our Guide to New Zealand’s West Coast

Our Guide to New Zealand’s West Coast 

New Zealand’s West Coast— a place where towering mountains kiss the sky, ancient forests whisper tales of yore, and the untamed sea tells its own endless story. 

From the northern tip of Karamea to the southern point of Haast, many jaw-dropping sights, thrilling activities, and hidden gems are waiting for you to discover. 

So, to ensure you don’t miss a thing, here’s our New Zealand West Coast travel guide, where we share our favourite local eateries, must-do activities, and more.

Time Zone

New Zealand Standard Time (GMT +12) 

Best Time to Go to New Zealand’s West Coast 

Summer is the best time to visit New Zealand’s West Coast to enjoy all it offers. The days are long and sunny, and the temperatures are mild. 

However, this is also the busiest time of year, and you’ll have to find your way through crowds of tourists. So, visiting in spring or autumn are good options if you’re looking for a quieter experience. 

If you decide to go during winter, though, while it is the cheapest time of year, be aware that it’s also the wettest time of year on the West Coast. 

Things to Know 

Currency:  NZD (Check the current exchange rate)
Language: New Zealand English 
Calling Code: +64

How to Get Around New Zealand’s West Coast

Car services: The best way to get around the West Coast is by car. We’ve used Apex Car Rentals and Thrifty Car Rental on past trips. 

Trains: If you are looking for a scenic and relaxing way to travel, then taking the train is a great option. Tranz Alpine travels between Christchurch, Arthur’s Pass, and Greymouth on the South Island’s west coast.

Buses: Getting around the West Coast by bus is a great way to travel if you’re on a budget or want to meet new people.

We’ve used Intercity in our travels along the West Coast. Their vast bus network makes exploring popular tourist spots and hidden gems easier.

Another option is more minor bus services like East West Coaches and Golden Bay Coachlines, perfect for those who want flexibility in their travel plans.

Taxis: Taxis are a convenient way to get around the West Coast but can be expensive. The exact fare will depend on your travel distance and time of day.

Where to Stay in NZ West Coast

Rainforest Retreat

Address: 46 Cron Street, Franz Josef / Waiau 7856, New Zealand
Phone:  +64 3 752 0220
Pricing: $
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A stay at Rainforest Retreat for us means waking up surrounded by lush trees and the soft whispers of wildlife. Their cabins are cosy and comfortable, perfect for families and solo adventurers. 

Plus you can spend your days exploring the nearby walking trails in Franz Josef and your nights soaking in the hot tub.

Scenic Hotel Punakaiki

Address: 4237 State Highway 6, Punakaiki 7873, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 731 1168
Pricing: $$
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We can’t get enough of the splendid views of the mighty Pancake Rocks whenever we stay at The Scenic Hotel Punakaiki. We feel the same about their pancakes at breakfast too!

As far as their rooms go, they are comfy and spacious, perfect for kicking back after a day of exploration.

Jacksons Retreat Alpine Holiday Park 

Address: 4464C Otira Highway (SH73 Jacksons, Arthur’s Pass Village 7832, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 738 0474
Pricing: $
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Sleep in a cabin high up in the mountains, with beautiful alpine views outside your window at Jacksons Retreat. Or bring your camper van and set up camp solo! 

Either way, we found no shortage of activities here: hiking on the alpine trails, trekking to nearby waterfalls, and stargazing at night by the BBQ.

Te Waonui Forest Retreat

Address: 3 Wallace Street, Franz Josef / Waiau 7886, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 752 0555
Pricing: $$
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A stay at Te Waonui Forest Retreat is like stepping into a fairy tale. Tucked away in the heart of the rainforest, this retreat has plush rooms that make us feel like we are sleeping amidst the trees. 

During the day, there are guided nature walks, and at night, the glow worms light up the forest, creating a magical atmosphere. 

Beachfront Hotel Hokitika

Address: 111 Revell Street, Hokitika 7810, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 755 8344
Pricing: $$$
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The Hokitika Beachfront Hotel is a place where you can truly relax and enjoy the beauty of the sea.

Wake up to the sound of the waves and watch the sunrise from your room. Or, stroll along the beach, build sandcastles, and even try your hand at spotting precious greenstone pebbles.

Just don’t forget to try the delicious seafood at the hotel restaurant!

Hokitika Fire Station Boutique Accommodation 

Address: 9 Hamilton Street, Hokitika 7810, New Zealand
Phone: +64 21 180 5882
Pricing: $$
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This iconic building, originally a fire station, was converted into five beautifully styled holiday apartments. During our stays here, we easily walk to attractions like Sunset Point, Hokitika’s famous driftwood sign, and local Gold and Greenstone shops. 

Ross Beach TOP10 Holiday Park 

Address: 145 Ross Beach Road, Ross 7812, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 429 8277
Pricing: $$
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Ross Beach Top10 Holiday Park is a fun-filled paradise where you stay in eco-friendly ‘container pods’ right next to the beach! We loved the private deck views we had of the ocean.

But if you want a traditional camping experience, you can do that too, as they have many RV sites. 

Where to Eat in NZ West Coast

The Hokitika Sandwich Company

Address: 83a Revell Street, Hokitika 7810, New Zealand
Phone:  +64 3 429 2019
Pricing: $$

This cozy spot made our mouths water with over 10 different sandwiches! Our favourite was their Coaster – aioli paired perfectly with salty prosciutto and cheddar oozing out with every bite. 

While you’re there, try one of their milkshakes, it’s the perfect sweet treat to pair with your savoury sandwich.

The Mussel Pot Restaurant

Address: 73 Main Road, Havelock 7100, New Zealand
Phone:  +64 3 574 2824
Pricing: $$

As the name suggests, their specialty is mussels—plump, juicy and cooked to perfection. We recommend trying their Grilled Mussels or Steamed Mussels in Thai Green curry and coconut cream broth.

For those who aren’t fans of seafood, they have spaghetti, burgers, steak and more.

Kiwi Kai Nelson 

Address: 149 Vickerman Street, Port Nelson, Nelson 7010, New Zealand
Phone: +64 210 298 6209
Pricing: $

Kiwi Kai Nelson serves traditional Maori food with a modern twist that will tickle your taste buds as it did ours. Their Mussel & Pua Patties hit the spot, but give their fresh mutton a shot if you want something more exotic.

Urban Oyster Bar and Eatery 

Address: 278 Hardy Street, Nelson 7010, New Zealand
Phone:  +64 3 546 7861
Pricing: $$

Urban Oyster Bar and Eatery is a real treat for seafood lovers. Slurp down fresh, juicy oysters or enjoy a plate of perfectly cooked fish while soaking up the lively urban vibes.

And don’t worry if you’re not a big seafood fan because they have other delicious options on the menu too.

Harry’s Hawker House and Bar 

Address:  296 Trafalgar Street, Nelson 7010, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 539 0905
Pricing: $$

Harry’s Hawker House and Bar brings to the coastline vibrant Asian-inspired dishes and kick-back eating with your hands. (Be warned, it gets a little messy eating here!)

Karaage Chilli Squid, Mapo Roasted Pork Belly, and Teriyaki Salmon Fins are some of our favs off their menu. If you’re a beer-lover, though, we recommend trying one of their beers on tap (they have everything from hop ipas, ciders to ales).

Fat Pipi Pizzas

Address:  89 Revell Street, Hokitika 7810, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 755 6373
Pricing: $$

Fat Pipi Pizzas is a must-visit for all pizza lovers. Whether you like classic flavours or want to try something new, they’ve got you covered. 

The best part for us? Watching our pizza being made right in front of our eyes!

The Craypot

Address: The Esplanade, Jackson Bay 7886, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 750 0035
Pricing: $$

The Craypot is a charming little eatery with a menu all about fresh, locally sourced seafood -think succulent crayfish, juicy mussels, and perfectly cooked fish. The restaurant itself has a cozy, nautical theme that you may love as much as we did.

Crepe & Snow 

Address: Haast Township, Haast 7886, New Zealand
Pricing: $

Crepe & Snow is a charming little spot that serves delectable French crepes that melt in your mouth. It’s found on the side of the road in different places throughout the year, so if you’re travelling through Haast, keep an eye out for this tiny food truck and treat yourself!

What to Do in NZ West Coast

Explore Abel Tasman National Park

Address: South Island 7183, New Zealand
Phone:  +64 3 546 9339

Abel Tasman National Park is a stunning place we’ve explored many times. For those who love the water, kayak along the coastline. You might even spot some playful seals or dolphins!

If you prefer to keep your feet on solid ground, test your hiking skills with the famed Abel Tasman Coast Track. There’s also plenty of wildlife to discover for the little adventurers – from cheeky weka birds to tiny blue penguins.

Hike Up to Isthmus Peak 


During the day, the views from Isthmus Peak leave us frozen in awe every time. But if you’re up for a night hike, the clear, dark skies make Isthmus Peak the perfect spot for observing the stars.

Stand in Awe at Thunder Creek Falls

Address: Wanaka 9382, New Zealand

Thunder Creek Falls stands at a height of 28 meters, creating a stunning spectacle that attracts visitors from around the globe. Walking to the falls is relatively easy (it took us a little under 30 min), taking you through beautiful forests of kāmahi and silver beech trees.

Find Inner Peace at Haast Pass Lookout 

Address: Otago 9382, New Zealand

Soak in the serenity of the breathtaking vistas of the Southern Alps and the valleys at Haast Pass Lookout. The panoramic views make for fantastic videos and photos, especially during sunrise or sunset.

Fish for Salmon at South Westland Salmon Farm 

Address: State Highway 6, Paringa 7886, New Zealand
Phone:  +64 3 751 0837

Try your hand at catching your own salmon in their ponds. We must warn you the salmon aren’t easy to catch, but we had fun! 

If you don’t want to get your hands fishy, tour the salmon farm and learn about the salmon life cycle and how they are farmed.

Snuggle with Kiwis at West Coast Wildlife Center 

Address: Cnr Cowan & Cron Streets, Franz Josef, New Zealand
Phone: +64 (3) 752 0600

The centre is home to the official hatching facility for the world’s two rarest kiwis—the Rowi and Haast Tokoeka. Yes, not only can you see them up close, but you can hold the kiwis if you ask! 

Take On the West Coast Treetop Walk 

Address: 1128 Woodstock-Rimu Road, Hokitika 7812, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 755 5052

Embark on a journey that takes you high among the ancient Rimu and Kamahi tree canopy. The walkway is 20 meters above the ground and over 450 meters long, offering a bird’s eye view of the forest.

Observe Seals at Cape Foulwind Seal Colony 


Cape Foulwind Seal Colony is where you can observe the fascinating life of seals in their natural environment. Watch the playful New Zealand fur seals from the viewing platforms, especially during the breeding season (November to March) when the seals are most active.

Experience the Buller Gorge Swing Bridge 

Address: Upper Buller Gorge, State Highway, SH6, Murchison 7049, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 523 9809

Try crossing New Zealand’s longest swing bridge, spanning over the beautiful Buller River. It’s a thrilling walk with spectacular views.

Spend the Day at Blue Pools Track


The Blue Pools Track is a breathtaking gem with plenty to do, from nature walks, crossing swing bridges, and of course, taking a dip in the cold, crystal clear blue pools if you dare. 

Walk amongst Glacier Giants: Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier 


We tell everyone that visiting the Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier is a must-do on the West Coast. 

Take a guided walk to the glaciers and pass through rainforests, rivers, and the glaciers themselves. Or, for an unforgettable experience, take a helicopter ride up to the glaciers, then hike on the ice with a guide, exploring ice caves.

See the Enchanting Hokitika Gorge

Address:  Kokatahi 7881, New Zealand
Phone:  +64 3 755 6166

The Hokitika Gorge is enchanting with its turquoise waters and lush native bush. Embark on a short, easy walk through the dense woodland to reach the stunning gorge, enjoying the tranquillity of nature along the way.  

You’ll have to cross the swing bridge for a heart-stopping view over the gorge. From here, you can see the gorge’s dramatic rock formations, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot a blue duck in the waters below.

Hike the Devil’s Punchbowl Waterfall Track 

Address:  Devil’s Punchbowl Walking Track, Arthur’s Pass Village 7875, New Zealand
Phone:  +64 3 318 9211

The Devil’s Punchbowl Waterfall Track is a 1.1-mile out-and-back trail leading to the stunning 131-meter waterfall. The hike is moderately challenging, but we think it is worth it for the incredible views.

Where to Shop in NZ West Coast

Westland Greenstone

Address:  34 Tancred Street, Hokitika 7810, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 755 8713

The Westland Greenstone shop is a gem lover’s paradise—a cozy store brimming with unique greenstone (or pounamu as locals call it) jewellery and carvings. It’s a place where we find precious keepsakes and gifts that truly embody the spirit of New Zealand.

Each piece of greenstone here is one-of-a-kind, so whether you’re after a necklace, a bracelet, or a beautiful carving, there’s something for everyone here.

Address: 29 Tancred Street, Hokitika 7810, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 755 7575

The Wilderness Gallery is a great place to shop for unique locally-made giftware. At The Wilderness Gallery, each photograph and piece of art tells a story, capturing magical moments from the rugged coastline to the serene forests. 

We found paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs, jewellery, and homeware.

Address:  Lake Matheson Road, Fox Glacier 7859, New Zealand
Phone:  +64 3 751 0753

Visiting the ReflectioNZ Gallery is like walking into a treasure trove of local art and souvenirs. 

From handmade jewellery and glassware to exquisite woodwork and ceramics, many beautiful pieces are crafted by talented local artists. 

Honey Cafe

Address: 4 Taramakau Highway, Greymouth 7875, New Zealand
Phone:  +64 3 736 9333

The Junction Cafe and Honey Centre is a delight for your taste buds and shopping desires! This quaint cafe is coupled with a shop that sells some of the finest local honey and bee-related products.

The honey sold here is pure, natural, and incredibly tasty—a true testament to the pristine environment of the West Coast. You’ll also find other products like beeswax candles, honey soaps, and skincare items that make perfect souvenirs or gifts.

Traditional Jade Hokitika

Address: 2 Tancred Street, Hokitika 7810, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 755 5233

Every item in Traditional Jade Hokitika, from elegant necklaces to intricate carvings, tells a story of New Zealand’s rich cultural heritage. 

And the best part? We had a front-row seat as the artisans transformed raw jade into beautiful works of art for us.

Revell Street Indoor Market

Address: 53 Revell Street, Hokitika 7810, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 974 5566

The Revell Street Indoor Market is a bustling hub. From handmade jewellery and unique crafts to fresh produce and baked goods, there’s something for everyone here. 

We advise coming here to pick up a unique souvenir or gift! And don’t forget to try some of the mouthwatering local food while you’re there – it’s a treat not to be missed! 

Which Neighbourhoods to Visit in NZ West Coast



Greymouth is a charming town that brims with natural beauty and rich history. Explore the historic Greymouth Railway Station, shop around in town, then head to the Southern Breakwater Viewing Point for panoramic views of the seaside.



Besides the Hokitika Gorge, Hokitika is bustling with local art galleries, pounamu (greenstone) jewellery shops, cafes, and magnificent views of the Tasman Sea. We spent days in this part of the West Coast!

To catch the best sunsets while in town, head to Sunset Point. Don’t forget to snap a photo at the iconic “Hokitika” sign on the beach while you’re at it.



Westport is known for its coal mining history and stunning landscapes, so naturally, visiting Coaltown Museum is a must when in this town. 

Just a short drive from Westport, though, is Cape Foulwind – which, despite the name, is worth visiting. It has breathtaking coastal views and an adorable seal colony.

Franz Josef 


Central Franz Josef has many cafes, art galleries, and how can we forget the Glacier Hot Pools. But whenever we’re in Franz Josef, we always book a helicopter ride to the spectacular Franz Josef Glacier.

What to Expect from NZ West Coast Weather

Summer (December to February): Summers on the West Coast are generally warm but not overly hot, with average daytime temperatures between 20-25°C. This is an excellent time to visit for outdoor activities, as the days are long and often sunny.

Fall/Autumn (March to May): The fall season gradually cools from the summer heat, with average daytime temperatures dropping to around 17-21°C. The weather remains relatively stable during this period, making it an excellent time to explore the outdoors.

Winter (June to August): Winter on the West Coast is relatively mild compared to other regions, with temperatures averaging around 12-16°C during the day. However, nights can be cold, and rainfall is more frequent during this season.

Spring (September to November): Springtime brings a gradual warming of temperatures after winter. However, the weather can vary during this season, so it’s good to have clothing with you that is suitable for various temperatures.

Apps to Download for a Trip to NZ West Coast

Google Translate: word translation with offline capabilities
iOs | Android

Google Maps: navigation GPS app with offline capabilities
iOs | Android

MetService: up-to-date weather forecasts app
iOs | Android

CamperMate: an app with info on gas stations and resources for campervan travellers
iOs | Android

Skyscanner: flight finder and accommodation finding app with offline capabilities
iOs | Android

Booking.com: app to find accommodation easily worldwide
iOs | Android