Top things to do

Top Choice Gorge in Hokitika

Hokitika Gorge

Water this turquoise doesn't come easy. Half a million years of glacial movement sculpted Hokitika's porcelain-white ravine; the rock 'flour' ground over millennia intensifies the water's dazzling hue. A lookout at …
Top Choice Natural Feature in Punakaiki & Paparoa National Park

Pancake Rocks

Punakaiki's claim to fame is Dolomite Point, where a layering-weathering process called stylobedding has carved the limestone into what looks like piles of thick pancakes. Aim for high tide (tide timetables are post…
Top Choice Beach in Karamea & Around

Scotts Beach

It's almost an hour's walk each way from Kohaihai over the hill to Scotts Beach – a wild, empty shoreline shrouded in mist, awash in foamy waves, strewn with driftwood and backed by nikau palm forest. Wander in wond…
Top Choice Modern NZ in Fox Glacier

Lake Matheson Cafe

Next to Lake Matheson, this cafe does everything right: sharp architecture that maximises inspiring mountain views, strong coffee, craft beers and upmarket fare. Bratwurst breakfasts are a good prelude to rambling t…
Top Choice Pizza in Murchison & Buller Gorge

Cow Shed

In the garage of the Lazy Cow backpackers, the cute Cow Shed restaurant is a deservedly popular option for its crisp, generously topped pizzas served in intimate surrounds. There's a daily non-pizza option (lasagna,…
Top Choice Asian in Franz Josef Glacier

Snake Bite Brewery

Snake Bite's motley Asian meals awaken tastebuds after their long slumber through the West Coast's lamb-and-whitebait menus. Choices include nasi goreng (fried rice), Thai- and Malaysian-style curries and salads of …
Top Choice Cafe in Hokitika

Ramble + Ritual

Tucked away near the Clock Tower, this gallery-cum-cafe is a stylish spot to linger while hobnobbing with friendly staff and punters. Let's see, will it be a Gruyère and mushroom slice, superfood salad, or a ginger …
Top Choice Food & Drink in Hokitika

Wildfoods Festival

Finding the West Coast's seafood scene a little samey? Give your tastebuds the equivalent of a defibrillator shock at this one-day festival of daredevil eating in early March. Fish eyes, pigs' ears and huhu beetle g…
Top Choice Modern NZ in Hokitika

Aurora

Breakfast egg-and-bacon ciabattas, Thai-style mussels, mid-afternoon tapas, desserts crowned with rich ice cream…from morning until closing time, everything at Aurora is beautifully plated and served with cheer.
Ghost Town in Reefton

Waiuta

Remote Waiuta is one of the West Coast's most famous ghost towns. Spread over a square kilometre or so of plateau, this once-burgeoning gold town was abandoned in 1951 after the mineshaft collapsed. Waiuta grew quic…