Nature has right of way here …
It’s been that way for about 20 million years, give or take!
There’s so much to see, do and get excited about on the West Coast. Epic wild landscapes, glorious scenery, outstanding treasures and unique stories.
With 600 km of coastline and mountains running north to south, it’s impossible to sum up this vast region full of wildly varied places to visit and activities to do but this is a good place to start.
Discover the top things to see and do on the West Coast. Something for everyone, all ages and abilities.
It could be a road trip discovering spectacular scenery, little towns and historic places, a family fishing holiday or cycling expedition. Or it could be a bucket list activity: hiking across a glacier, jumping from a plane, or a rare wildlife encounter with penguins on a beach.
From Buller to Haast, north to south (or whichever way the road takes you) the West Coast’s epic 600-kilometre coastline is a road tripper’s dream drive. Tucked between the snowy peaks of the Southern Alps and the pounding Tasman Sea — covering almost nine percent of New Zealand’s land area — this region is packed with diverse, awe-inspiring landscapes and experiences that set it apart from anywhere else in this country.
Follow the road to six naturally spectacular West Coast highlights.
The West Coast extends across a significant chunk of New Zealand, covering surprisingly diverse regions and environments: from the subtropical palm forests and limestone underworlds of the north to the temperate rainforests and alpine marvels of Glacier Country, and the vast Jurassic-era wilderness of World Heritage South Westland.
It’s worth taking your time to make the most of all this wonder and beauty or, for a shorter visit, consider doing one region at a time.
The Great Coast Road is regarded by travel gurus Lonely Planet as one of the best road trips in the world for its rugged coastlines, beautiful mountain vistas and the lush greens of stately podocarp forests and luxuriant glades of subtropical palm trees.
It’s a good place to start exploring the West Coast but that’s just the beginning of the road trip discoveries awaiting you here.
Packed full of history and colourful old tales, the West Coast has more than its fair share of historic sites and places to explore from old mining sites to deserted ghost towns. Among these, six Tohu Whenua heritage sites are special places that recognise New Zealand's unique culture and connect visitors to our stories and places.Read More about Tohu Whenua