The West Coast region of New Zealand’s South Island is a hauntingly beautiful collection of natural attractions that will blow your mind. This sparsely populated region is a popular tourist attraction for its many and varied natural attractions. The West Coast comprises of the Buller, Grey and Westland districts, with the primary towns being Hokitika, Greymouth and Westport. Because it spans such a large geographic distance, particularly for a South Island region, the climate on the West Coast varies. This region is paticularly known for its incredible natural features, from a long and varied coastline to mountains and glaciers. Of specific interest are the rock formations that occur throughout, including pancake rocks and natural arches. Your winter holiday to the West Coast is the perfect excuse to try out all of the adventure you’ve been missing out on as you go about your daily life! Go for a walk on a glacier or check out a romantic bed and breakfast with your spouse. Whether you’re in town for an epic adventure or family vacation, the West Coast is a stunning choice for your winter getaway. The best way to see the West Coast is driving around in your own campervan. Rent a motorhome with Mighway, and let the journey unfold!
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It is a place of dramatic contrasts with snow-capped mountains, steep forested slopes, glaciers and impassible gorges to the east of the fault and forested lowlands, lakes, wetlands and wide river mouths to the west.
The area is best known for the Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers where you can walk up the river valleys to see the terminal faces or take a guided trip onto the ice. Westland National Park is the backbone of Glacier Country and is part of the South West New Zealand UNESCO World Heritage Area.
In places it is an untracked wilderness, elsewhere a wonderful network of tracks lets you explore wild rivers, high plateaux and alpine herbfields, and coastal forests. Translated, its name has a number of meanings including 'treasured possession', an apt description of its wonderfully diverse natural and recreational values.
Kahurangi is a geologically complex area. Much of its rock is sedimentary, laid down in an ancient sea, then faulted, uplifted and scoured, in places, by glaciers. Parts of the region are limestone or marble, these areas are characterised by an abundance of caves, bluffs, natural arches, sinkholes and water-worn outcrops. New Zealand's oldest fossil (540 million years old) was found in the park.
Kuhurangi National Park was a location for Dimrill Dale and the outcrop south of Rivendell in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
Fed by four alpine glaciers, Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe is longer and faster moving than the Franz Josef Glacier / Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere. Its terminal face is just five kilometres from the village.
Fox Glacier is the name of both the glacier and the nearby village though the Maori names are different. Fox Glacier Weheka village, set into the forested foothills of the Southern Alps / Kā Tiritiri o te Moana with farmland close by, is more intimate than its bigger neighbour up the road.
There are plenty of options for activities close to the village including a number of ways to experience the glacier, quiet walks and beachcombing, or serious adrenalin pumping adventures.
At night you can walk along a bush path to a fern grotto to see glow worms on show.
Fox Glacier village is 3.5 hours drive from Wanaka, just under 2 hours from Hokitika and 25 minutes from Franz Josef village.
The Hokitika Gorge is 33kms from Hokitika. The vivid turquoise water surrounded by lush native bush is well worth a visit.
It is a short walk from the car park through a mainly rimu and podocarp forest to a viewing platform where the water has to be seen to be believed. An awesome viewing platform is just four minutes from the car park and this part of the track is accessible for wheelchairs. Carry on further to an impressive swing bridge and the granite rocks of the gorge's walls.
For good views further up the gorge, cross the swing bridge and when you come to the end, turn left (straight ahead leads to private farmland). The track continues for another 200m through the bush to another viewing platform with looking out to the gorge upstream of the bridge.
Built in 1876, at the beginning of the Kumara gold rush, the Hotel was the meeting, entertaining and playing place for the miners who had arrived in Kumara, from all around the world. The first owners were Annie and Otto Anderson. Otto was from Scandinavia and Annie from Germany. Prior to the first church being built, confirmations were held in the Hotel. A thirty metre theatre was added and travelling shows would come from England and America to perform. The famous New Zealand poet, Thomas Bracken, was a popular guest performer. Richard John Seddon was often known to take to the stage and sing.
Dancing girls were employed to “dance” with the miners. One of the rooms was sound-proofed, with walls lined with sawdust, which was used when more than dancing was required. When the gold was being struck, the message would be passed down to Annie to get the dancing girls ready, as “the boys were coming to town”.
When current owners Kerrie and Mark Fitzgibbon purchased the hotel in 2010 it was derelict, vandalised and in total disrepair. Two years were spent with local tradesmen working to restore and rebuild the old building, which holds many special memories for Coasters of today.
The Hotel was reopened in November 2012 and was presented with the HANZ Award for Excellence as the Best New/Redeveloped Accommodation Hotel in New Zealand in 2013. The Hotel has since been awarded the HANZ Award for Excellence as New Zealand’s Best Country Hotel in 2014 and again in 2015.
If you are on the West Coast don’t miss the opportunity to stop in for a drink, a meal, or spend the night! The staff will happily show you around and tell the tales of times gone by.
The walls contain many stories.
Nestled in six acres of idyllic native bush, centrally located in the heart of Franz Josef Village, Rainforest Holiday Park offers a range of accommodation options.
On site facilities include Monsoon Bar & Restaurant with great tunes, cozy fireplace, cheap drinks and meal deals, hot bubbling spa pools, sauna, pool tables, BBQ area, internet access, laundry facilities. linen hire, waste station, children's playground and Sky Digital TV. Plus large, modern communal facilities blocks with TV lounge, commercial kitchen, spotless well equipped bathrooms and vending machines.
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