The West Coast New Zealand: 3 Places to Explore in a Day

The West Coast of New Zealand is a wild and untouched part of the country. Dense bush, incredible wildlife and amazing forests mean there are endless opportunities to explore in a day. 

There are fewer people around this part of the country which makes the place feel kind of airy and mysterious, especially when out hiking. It has its perks as you get to take in its beauty without the hustle and bustle of numerous tourists.

One thing that really stood out to me about this part of the country was the rough beach. It is a wild world of it’s own. The waves started miles out to sea and came crashing down on the sand like a thunderstorm. It is nothing like the East coast. I managed to catch the sunset over the feisty waves which was a remarkable experience. Hopefully you time it right and can catch it too! 

I was only there for a short time but managed to fit a few incredible activities into the mix.

Below is my list of 3 places to explore if you only have a day!

1. Pancake Rocks

These beauties are situated about 1 hour from Hokitika in a place called Punakaiki.

The rock structures here are magnificent. I felt as though I was looking at a different part of the world. 

There is a gorgeous walkway around the rocks which gives you a good chance to see the structures from different angles.

The thud of the waves against the rock caves is something I can’t really describe; it’s kind of like thunder but under your feet! You definitely have to go there and experience it for yourself. – While we were there the weather got the best of us and it started hailing down a storm.  I tried my best to enjoy the view while getting smacked in the face. The wee café across the road was our saving grace (they do really good coffee)

It was a truly awesome experience and if you get the time to look around you will no doubt fall in love.

2. Dorothy falls

These incredible falls are situated about 30 minutes inland from Hokitika, just opposite Lake Kaniere. You will hear these falls before you see them (I even heard them before getting out of the car). The first thing I thought upon walking to the falls was how powerful they were. The water has this crazy muddy orange tint which gives it some extra character.

Be careful if you are venturing onto the rocks as they are a tad slippery. After you have taken in enough of the falls definitely pop over to Lake Kaniere. While we were there we managed to get a glimpse of the sun set over the surrounding mountains, bliss!

If you get time definitely make your way to these falls as it’s a great way to experience nature’s immense power.  

3. Hokitika Gorge

Highlight of the trip. The gorge is situated about 35 minutes inland from Hokitika in an isolated spot off the beaten track. I can’t actually believe the water was that blue, it looked as though someone planted some light blue food colouring in the water. 

The short walk into the gorge is a great experience giving you different angles of the river. Walking over the swing bridge was also a great experience. While we were there a couple of fantails followed us around the rocks dancing and diving away (Fantails are so cheeky).

The gorge is also a great place to take photos. I was hoping the sun would be in the right position so the water showed off its true milky blue colour, but even without the sun shining directly on the water it was still gorgeous and dream like.  


It was an awesome trip and I would go back to the West Coast anytime, next time for longer.

If you haven’t ventured over there before then put it on your to do list! If you only have a day then you need not to worry as you can still experience many parts of the beautiful West Coast.

Let me know in the comments your favourite spot on the West Coast of your country!

Lee X 

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  1. How good is the west coast??! If you go to this small town called blackball 30 mins outside of greymouth there is this amazing 6 hour walk called the stamper trail!! Check it out x

    1. So beautiful!! Wow will definitely have to check that out on my next trip down that way! Thanks for the tip! 🙂