West Coast NZ

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island is where things start to become wilder, more rugged, wetter, and more remote feeling. This is one of the most sparsely populated parts of the country. You can drive through small farming towns in the middle of the day on not see a single soul. Or wander along a stunning beach covered in driftwood and dramatic dark grey sand, and have the whole thing to yourself. The scenery here – one part rugged coast, one part lush green farmland, and one part temperature rainforest – is so beautiful and peaceful, we didn’t mind at all that we shared it with no-one.

Yellow gorse flowers amongst the various vegetation on the foreshore at Cape Foulwind, Westport, New ZealandThe coast at Cape Foulwind, with stripes of wet sand and wavy textures on the wide sandy beach, green hills just beyond the sand with cloud-topped mountains beyond that, Westport, New Zealand

Yellow gorse flowers amongst the various vegetation on the foreshore at Cape Foulwind just outside Westport, The coast at Cape Foulwind, with stripes of wet sand and wavy textures on the wide sandy beach, green hills just beyond the sand with cloud-topped mountains beyond that.

Looking through flax leaves to the colourful Cape Foulwind coast, yellow gorse flowers and rolling greens hills on the edge of the beach dotted with grazing black cows, Westport, New Zealand

Looking through flax leaves to the colourful Cape Foulwind coast, yellow gorse flowers and rolling greens hills on the edge of the beach dotted with grazing black cows.

A small white weatherboard house with a dramatic stormy grey and blue sky, Greymouth, New ZealandLarge smooth pebbles in many shades of grey on a deserted beach, Punakaiki, New Zealand

A small white weatherboard house at Greymouth, with a dramatic stormy grey and blue sky; Large smooth pebbles in many shades of grey on a deserted beach near Punakaiki.

Looking through a mass of flax on the beach to a large vegetated rock formation in the ocean at Cape Foulwind, Westport, New Zealand

Looking through a mass of flax on the beach to a large vegetated rock formation in the ocean at Cape Foulwind.

At Lake Mahinapua in the early morning, a pier juts out over the water with white snowy mountain peaks just appearing out of the clouds above, Hokitika, New ZealandThe coastal road winding around densely vegetated hills which, despite the temperatures, make the area seem tropical thanks to the proliferation of palm trees and thick greenery, Punakaiki, New Zealand

At Lake Mahinapua just outside Hokitika, in the early morning, a pier juts out over the water with white snowy mountain peaks just appearing out of the clouds above; The coastal road near Punakaiki winding around densely vegetated hills which, despite the temperatures, make the area seem tropical thanks to the proliferation of palm trees and thick greenery.

Looking down the beach on a very stormy morning, the dark grey sand strewn with driftwood and a lone bird in the sky above, Hokitika, New ZealandColourful wet rocks with stones and driftwood on the beach, Hokitika, New Zealand

Looking down the beach at Hokitika on a very stormy morning, the dark grey sand strewn with driftwood and a lone bird in the sky above; Colourful wet rocks with stones and driftwood on the beach at Hokitika.

Two empty yellow chairs on the verandah of a small pub in a very sleepy town, Whataroa, New ZealandThe Whataroa Pub, a small old weatherboard house, on a quite grey stormy day with a dusting of snow on the mountains behind, Whataroa, New Zealand

Two empty yellow chairs on the verandah of a small pub in the very sleepy town of Whataroa; The Whataroa Pub, a small old weatherboard house, on a quiet grey stormy day with a dusting of snow on the mountains behind.

A lone tree in the lush green paddocks outside a farmhouse, a cloudy grey sky with snowy mountains just peeking out, Whataroa, New ZealandA lone black cow stands very wet green paddock with snowy mountains in the clouds above, Whataroa, New Zealand

A lone tree in the lush green paddocks outside a farmhouse near Whataroa, a cloudy grey sky with snowy mountains just peeking out; A lone black cow stands very wet green paddock near Whataroa with snowy mountains in the clouds above.

A wall of dense damp greenery and ferns on the roadside, Whataroa, New Zealand

A wall of dense damp greenery and ferns on the roadside near Whataroa.

A rundown old weatherboard cottage, yellow paint peeling off the walls and off the red corrugated iron roof and an old red armchair under the verandah, Whataroa, New ZealandThe empty main street of a town so quiet and sleepy we didn't see a single person, especially on a damp grey day like this, Whataroa, New Zealand

A rundown old weatherboard cottage in Whataroa, yellow paint peeling off the walls and off the red corrugated iron roof and an old red armchair under the verandah; The empty main street of Whataroa, a town so quiet and sleepy we didn’t see a single person, especially on a damp grey day like this.

Wild and colourful grey sandy beach, with high cliffs, smooth stones, driftwood, and yellow gorse flowers, Okarito, New Zealand

Wild and colourful grey sandy beach at Okarito, with high cliffs, smooth stones, driftwood, and yellow gorse flowers.

Rotting wooden pylons in the estuary leading to Okarito Lagoon, with layers of cloudy blue mountains beyond the wetlands, Okarito, New ZealandThe sun peeks through the lush green coastal rainforest, Okarito, New Zealand

Rotting wooden pylons in the estuary leading to Okarito Lagoon, with layers of cloudy blue mountains beyond the wetlands; The sun peeks through the lush green coastal rainforest at Okarito.

Small boats are pulled up onto shore amongst the flax near the estuary, with a rundown wooden building hanging out over the waters edge, Okarito, New Zealand

Small boats are pulled up onto shore amongst the flax near the estuary at Okarito, with a rundown wooden building hanging out over the waters edge.

Okarito Lagoon, a coastal lagoon and largest unmodified wetlands in the country, with a view of snowy-peaked mountains in the distance, Okarito, New ZealandBright green moss grown in a drainage channel on the side of a gravel walking track through the rainforest, Okarito, New Zealand

Okarito Lagoon, a coastal lagoon and largest unmodified wetlands in the country, with a view of snowy-peaked mountains in the distance; Bright green moss grown in a drainage channel on the side of a gravel walking track through the rainforest at Okarito.

The bright green and very damp coastal rainforest, a recognised Kiwi habitat, Okarito, New Zealand

The bright green and very damp coastal rainforest near Okarito, a recognised Kiwi habitat.

Pebbles on the side of the wide Haast River, where the West Coast road turns inland, with a dusting of snow on the heavily wooded mountains and a stormy grey sky, Mount Aspiring National Park, New ZealandA small fern starting to grow in the damp green rainforest, Okarito, New Zealand

Pebbles on the side of the wide Haast River, where the West Coast road turns inland, with a dusting of snow on the heavily wooded mountains and a stormy grey sky; A small fern starting to grow in the damp green rainforest.

Looking out from beneath lush tree canopies and damp rocks to one of the many small waterfalls in the forest along Haast Pass, Mount Aspiring National Park, New ZealandBright blue clear water and striped rocks of the Haast River, Mount Aspiring National Park, New Zealand

Looking out from beneath lush tree canopies and damp rocks to one of the many small waterfalls in the forest along Haast Pass; Bright blue clear water and striped rocks of the Haast River.

The dense dark beech forest that covers the mountains along Haast Pass, Mount Aspiring National Park, New Zealand

The dense dark beech forest that covers the mountains along Haast Pass.

Looking out through the dense dark beech forest down a path to the Haast River, Mount Aspiring National Park, New ZealandBright blue water tumbles over last striped rocks in the damp forest along Haast Pass, Mount Aspiring National Park, New Zealand

Looking out through the dense dark beech forest down a path to the Haast River; Bright blue water tumbles over last striped rocks in the damp forest along Haast Pass.

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