THE RUGGED WEST COAST
Steam train at Shanty Town near Greymouth
Lake Mahinapua near Hokitika
Swamp Forest at the Ship Creek DOC Reserve
The West Coast was one of the discoveries of our South Island adventure. We started at the southern end, driving up through the Haast Pass - an experience all by itself.
Most of our news featuring the West Coast has been rather negative over the last few years. The mining disaster in Greymouth, and the loss of jobs when the mine closed. The young couple that died in a freak rock avalance while driving through the Haast Pass. And just the general impression that the Coast is a bit of a backwater.
The Coast is rugged - so rugged that the road connecting Westland with Greymouth was only completed in 1965. It is so rugged because it was carved out of solid rock by millenia of vast glacial ice movement of which the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers are now just a last fading remnant.
It contains virgin forest. It was the centre of a massive gold mining industry, and gold can still be found today. And of course there is the coal, and the greenstone, and beaches where you can fossick for colour stones that have been washed down from the mountains and polished by the sea.
The Coast is a great place for motor caravanners. There are really nice campsites, very low cost DOC campsites, and some great locations where you can park overnight for free.
As you drive up, or down, the coast, be prepared to stop whenever you see something interesting. It might be a salmon farm where you can enjoy a really nice lunch. It might be a beach where people before you have collected white rocks from along the beach, and inscribed them with messages for posterity. It might be a forest growing in a swamp, or an historical village. And of course the iconic walk around Lake Matheson, and the walks out to both glaciers.
You need some time to enjoy the Coast.
Visitors returning from the Franz Josef Glacier
Hokitika Coast Sunset