Shall I drive the West Coast of New Zealands South Island?
This is a question we are often asked and there are lots of things to consider when taking this route. Time is definitely the top consideration here, we recommend allowing at least 3 days for this journey. There are also a few different routes that can be taken to view this beautiful part of the country.
From Queenstown or Wanaka the West Coast is easily accessible. We recommend traveling to Fox or Franz Josef Glacier on day one, this is an easy 3.5 hour drive from Wanaka or 5 hours from Queenstown. The scenery on this drive is amazing. From Lord of The Rings type greenery to the west coast itself, your camera is sure to be a must have accessory here. From the glaciers, travel north to Hokitika (1 hour 45 minutes) before heading east to Christchurch and Canterbury 3.5 hours. This can be done in one day, but two days is also a great way to do this journey allowing enough time to stop along the way through Arthurs Pass. Of course this can all be done on the reverse from Christchurch.
Another way some like to experience this outstanding location is by utilizing the Tranz Scenic train. This train departs from Christchurch and arrives in Greymouth 4.5 hours later. From your carriage you’ll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Your train then climbs into the Southern Alps before descending through lush beech rain forest to the West Coast town of Greymouth. In Greymouth you can collect a hire car to continue your journey south to the Glaciers, this takes approx 2 hours via car.
If you have the time and would like to explore the amazing glaciers on the West Coast, we highly recommend including this drive in your New Zealand itinerary. Contact Luxury Adventures today for more information.
Tony Townley is a luxury lifestyle specialist and owner of Luxury Adventures. Talk to us about planning your next visit to New Zealand, Australia or the South Pacific Islands.