A Travel Guide on Things to Do on New Zealand's South Island's West Coast - This is How to Get Off the Beaten Path in New Zealand

A Travel Guide on Things to Do on New Zealand's South Island's West Coast

This is How to Get Off the Beaten Path in New Zealand


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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.

A Month In New Zealand On A Budget.

New Zealand Travel Video

The Kiwiland from Pete R. on Vimeo

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

 Day 14: 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

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

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

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!

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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 15: Punakaiki and the Pancake Rock

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

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 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

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.

How to Go Ice-Climbing in Franz Josef.

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:

The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.

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