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Best of the West

Mountain highs, blue pools, twin glaciers and other natural wonders ...

You’ll find nature all around on the West Coast, a dynamic visual feast of wildly varied, untamed scenic wonders and beauty.

From majestic mountain highs to vast underground caverns, via splendid lakes, turquoise gorges, ancient native forest and wetland havens to spectacular coastal landforms, it’s no wonder that photographers — and all who visit — love the West Coast!

Glacier Country — Nature on ice

Great rivers of ice — the famous twin glaciers, wild expanses of beach, luxuriant coastal rainforest and mirror lakes in close proximity, Glacier Country is a wonderfully diverse and unique destination.

Get up close on a hike across the dynamic icy environment, exploring between luminous blue caves and craggy towers of ice, or choose to admire the majesty from afar. Walk easy forest trails to tranquil lakes, encounter rare wildlife or soak up all that beauty from a steaming hot tub.

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Pancake Rocks & Blowholes — Nature's power unleashed

An awe-inspiring natural drama unfolds at Pancake Rocks as powerful waves surge through towering limestone formations blowing froth and foam sky high. Just the start of the adventures to be had at Punakaiki: tracks and trails (walks, hikes and bikes), kayaking, SUP and beach time.

Start your adventures on the Great Coast Road, one of the Top 10 Coastal Drives in the world — north from Greymouth or south from Westport — a spectacular road trip of coastal vistas, photo ops and scenic picnic spots that takes you all the way to Punakaiki.

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Hokitika Gorge — Nature in full colour

Follow an easy forest trail to a surreal symphony of vibrant turquoise waters amid lush green forest and pure white limestone cliffs and a photographer’s dream setting. Take your happy snaps and marvel at nature’s artistry.

Cool little Hokitika brims with creativity. Visit pounamu, bone and glass artists in their workshops, fossick for greenstone or create your own driftwood sculpture on the beach. Discover brooding waterways, leafy forest trails and historic gold mining relics following the easy Wilderness Trail.

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Lake Brunner, Moana — Natural reflections

Nature reigns supreme over Lake Brunner and Moana — a peaceful little lakeside resort shrouded by virgin bush and alpine peaks mirrored in pristine waters. Drive in through the Southern Alps or arrive in style on the scenic TranzAlpine rail journey.

Lake Brunner is a world- class, year-round trout fishing destination, famous for its large, lazy brown trout. Walk the forest trails around the lake, relax and refresh, or launch out on the water — jet boating, yachting, kayaking, and paddle boarding. Discover the hospitable, historic towns of Greymouth and Blackball.

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Haast World Heritage Area — Nature treasured

On the edge of paradise, the majestic Haast region is a vast UNESCO-acclaimed World Heritage Area recognised for the natural and cultural value its ancient wilderness landscapes. Soaring mountain peaks meet ancient forests, pristine lakes and wilderness rivers that sweep down to the wild Tasman Sea.

South of the glaciers, the tiny settlement of Haast is the gateway into this largely impenetrable wilderness. Jet boat up a wild glacial river for a walk in a Jurassic forest, or take a scenic helicopter flight and land beside a secret lake high in the mountains.

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Ōpārara Arches — Nature's secrets uncovered

Discover Karamea and Kahurangi National Park — on the northwestern corner of the South Island — an incredible coastal to alpine landscape of sublime beaches, subtropical rainforests, whisky coloured rivers and lakes, limestone arches and hidden caverns.

Beneath the hills covered in lovely rainforests lies a prehistoric underworld of 4-million-year-old limestone arches, vast networks of caves and secret caverns and the final resting places of extinct wildlife giants — the mythical Haast eagle and roaming moa.

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