- New zealand
A Travel Guide on Things to Do on New Zealand's South Island's West Coast
It was an early morning when the NakedBus picked me up at the iSite bus station in Motueka. As I continued my journey down along the west coast, the scenery became prettier and prettier. My eyes were wide open, observing every single scenery the South Island had to offer. I arrived in Westport shortly along with the clouds that seem to follow my every move, but that didn't stop me from going out and cycle along the west coast.
Continuing from my adventure in the Abel Tasman national park, here is my introduction to the west coast of the South Island, New Zealand.
New Zealand Travel Video
Where to Stay in Westport
Initially, I did not plan to stay in Westport for long as I wanted to go to Karamea to do some cave exploring. Unfortunately, as I arrived at the hostel (Bazil's Hostel), they told me that to go to Karamea, I would have to take a bus that only runs once per day and I was too late to get on one that day. So doing a one day trip there was out of the picture and since I had only 2 nights before heading to Franz Josef and I wasn't willing to extend my time in Westport, I decided to drop my plan and gave Westport a chance.
The Bazil's hostel was quite decent. Not many people were traveling in Westport in October so I got the whole dorm to myself for 2 nights straight. The owner also let me borrowed a bike for free for a day and gave me some ideas on where I could explore with my 2 wheelers. He also tried to arrange a hitchhike to Karamea, but at that point, I had already made up my mind.
First Impression of Westport: The Abandoned Cowboy Town
Westport is not the best town to travel to in my humble opinion. It consisted of nothing but industrial factories. The town was uninspiring and there was nothing much to do. They don't even have a decent cafe for me to work (limited internet access). The town gave me a vibe of walking around in an abandoned cowboy town in the wild west! That said, I was quite excited to see Cape Foulwind the next day.
Biking to Cape Foulwind
I went out in the early morning and cycled down to Cape Foulwind. It was a 45 minutes torture trip, not because of the trip but because of the crazy weather from the Tasman sea.
I had to cycle uphill for 45 minutes against the wind, while it rained on me 8 times. At one point, I was wondering weather walking would be faster!
To my foolishness, when it was raining the first time, I thought that it would be a bad idea to continue so I rode back to Westport. Half way through it, I stopped to put my rain jacket on as it was rainning more and more, but after I put the jacket on, funny enough, the rain suddenly stopped and the sun was shining. It was like the weather was mocking me!
Now that it was sunny again, I had to make a decision whether to continue to Cape Foulwind or go back. "Screw it, I'm not here that often anyway", was the thought I had and so my journey to Cape Foulwind continued.
And boy, was it worth it! Look at this view!
Naming this place Cape Foulwind was spot on, since it was so windy I wasn't able to even stand on the cliff without blowing myself off it.
I was soaked wet when I arrived at the parking lot, but for only a few minutes, I was dry again. The wind was that strong!
If you walk along the trail long enough, you will stumble upon a seal colony.
If you look carefully in this photo, you would see several seals lying down, perfectly camouflaged with the colors of the rocks.
All the negative thoughts I had about the weather went away as I looked out from into the mesmerizing Tasman sea.
The rolling green hills of New Zealand.
I love walking, and New Zealand have never disappoint me in the regards, no matter where I went.
It was well worth the effort to come here. In retrospect, Cape Foulwind was definitely among the most impressive cape I'd seen in New Zealand.
I stopped here for lunch, not because I was hungry but because I didn't want to ride back all that distance! Procrasination at its finest.
Going back was a little easier since I was no longer cycling against the wind anymore. I arrived back in Westport in under 30 minutes, had one last cup of coffee that day, watched the Wolf of Wallstreet with a bunch of people at the hostel and ended the night.
Visiting Punakaiki and Pancake Rocks via Intercity Bus
Since I was there in October (a low season), traveling around the West Coast proved to be quite a challenge. NakedBus only runs twice a week along the west coast and the idea of staying 4 days in Westport wasn't appealing to me so I had to be a little more creative.
There was another bus service that runs more often, the Intercity bus and since I had no option, I decided to go with their service and had the opportunity to compare the service with the Nakedbus.
The NakedBus focuses more on transporting you to your destination as fast and as cheap as they could. The Intercity bus on the other hand was more expensive but they do stop at several outlook points along the way. I wasn't planning to go to the Punakaiki but it was one of their stops and I was able to see the Pancake rocks.
Overall, the Intercity bus was a great change from the NakedBus. I just wish the bus driver would talk on his microphone a little less. :)
And that was my brief encounter with Westport and the West Coast. Next up, we will go to Franz Josef, get on a helicopter, climb the glacier and see how my first experience hitchhiking went. Stay tuned.
Further Reading for Backpacking in New Zealand
I’ve spent 5 weeks backpacking in New Zealand and I have written a ton more about my journey traveling throughout New Zealand from the North Island to the South Island that you might help in your trip planning.
Here’s a selection of articles about New Zealand:
- Looking for a complete travel guide to spend one month in New Zealand on a budget? A Month In New Zealand On A Budget - The Perfect Backpacking Itinerary.
- New Zealand has a special place in my heart. It is one of the most memorable trip I have ever done and here are 10 things I love about New Zealand.
- If you are planning to start traveling in New Zealand from North to South, Rotorua is a great place to visit on your way South from Auckland. Here is a travel guide on things to do in Rotorua.
- Did you know that you can climb Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings in real life? Along the Tongariro Crossing trail, you have the option to summit Mount Ngauruhoe which was used as a reference for Mount Doom in the movie. Here a travel guide on how to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in one day.
- Crossing from the North Island of New Zealand to the South is an experience in and of itself. See how to cross from the North Island to the South Island in New Zealand here.
- One of the first big city you will travel in the South Island is Nelson which has a laid-back vibe while Motueka, a sister town makes a great base to traveling to Abel Tasman National Park. Here’s a quick travel guide on things to do in Nelson and Motueka.
- One of the best Great Walk you can do is in the Abel Tasman National Park and you can do parts of it in one day. Here’s a complete guide on how to hike parts of the Abel Tasman Great Walk in one day.
- Franz Josef or Fox Glacier, a question that has been asked for as long as travelers starts traveling in New Zealand. It doesn’t really matter which one you pick as both are a great place to go ice climbing. Here’s a travel guide on how to go ice climbing on Franz Josef glacier with Ice Explorer.
- You must have a seen photo of a lone tree in a lake with beautiful mountains as a background somewhere. That’s in Wanaka, New Zealand and here’s travel guide on things to do in Wanaka in one day.
- Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world. If your body can endure it, you can find it in Queenstown. Here’s a 3 days itinerary on things to do in Queenstown.
- Queenstown is also one of the best places in the world to go skydiving. Here’s my experience skydiving with the NZONE in Queenstown.
- The Milford Sound is touristy, there’s no denying it and you are not wrong to be skeptical but I can assure you, it is worth the hype. Here’s a travel guide on which cruise to pick for the Milford Sound and how to get there.
- One of the best Great Walk in New Zealand you can do is the Routeburn Track. Here’s a complete 3 days itinerary and travel guide on how to trek the Routeburn Track.
- Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand, and the best way to see it is to hike the Hooker Valley trail. Here’s a travel guide on visiting Mt. Cook and hiking the Hooker Valley trail.
- Dunedin is a great place to end your trip in New Zealand. After all the adventure you have been through, here’s how to spend 5 days in Dunedin, taking it slow and seeing the city at your own leisure.
- Not convinced by my words about New Zealand? Come follow me and I’ll show you New Zealand in 70 photos.
- You can see all my New Zealand travel guides and related articles on my New Zealand Travel Guide page.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by Pete Rojwongsuriya, the founder of BucketListly Blog where we will follow his solo journey around the world as he experiences different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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