The best adventure activities on the west coast

Rugged, secluded, and inhabited by hardy types who are not inclined to avoid challenges, the West Coast could have been built for adventure.

Discover hidden natural and historical gems on a bike ride through some of the region’s wildest scenery, take a jet boat ride through a less visited UNESCO World Heritage area, explore a maze of caves limestones in the underworld lit by glowworms or kiss the mud on a quad bike ride. To start.

If you are looking for more excitement in your life, this is your place. Here are some of our favorite things to do.

The West Coast Wilderness Trail is a level 2 (easy) bike trail.

Bike trips and Hedgehog House NZ / Supplied

The West Coast Wilderness Trail is a level 2 (easy) bike trail.

Wild West Coast Trail

One of New Zealand’s official cycle routes, this 136km route traces old pack horse tracks, tram lines, rail tracks and boat races from historic Greymouth Harbor to the Old Town of Ross, the gold rush.

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A celebration of Coasters past and present as well as the region’s unspoiled nature, it features small towns with pounamu studios, boutique cafes and pubs, remains of gold mining as well as thick tropical forest, Glacial rivers, secluded beaches and views stretching from the Southern Alps to the Tasman Sea.

The Level 2 (easy) trail typically takes four days, with around 30-36 km (three to five) hours of driving per day, but can easily be covered in shorter sections.

The four to seven hour section between Kumara and Lake Kaniere is one of the best options for a day trip. A gentle climb to the Kawhaka Pass features typically spectacular West Coast scenery and is followed by a visit to the Wild West replica town of Cowboy Paradise.

The flat section between Hokitika and Ross, with its excellent photo ops of some of New Zealand’s highest peaks, is a good option for families and those who are still developing their cycling legs (and butt). Stop at the West Coast Treetops Walkway en route for a bird’s-eye view of your surroundings.


Black water rafting, Charleston

Don't just scratch the surface on a trip to the West Coast - head underground.

West Coast Development / Supplied

Don’t just scratch the surface on a trip to the West Coast – head underground.

Board a toy train named Dorothy and let it take you through the Nile Canyon to a tiered cave system amid the pristine rainforest of Paparoa National Park.

Guided by glowworms and a headlamp, you’ll follow a maze of subterranean passages passing tall stalactites and stalagmites to the lower level, where you’ll jump into the river and float under bright sparks resembling constellations to return to the world of daylight.


White water rafting, Gorges de Buller

Rafting on the Buller River.

Evan barnes

Rafting on the Buller River.

There is white water rafting, then there is white water rafting on the famous “Earthquake Rapids” on the Buller River.

Veteran guides Bruce and Marty of Wild Rivers Rafting will take you on a 3.5-hour adventure that sees you make your way through Buller Gorge, facing the largest whitewater in the river. No experience is necessary, but children must be eight years of age or older.


Waiatoto River Safari, Haast

The Waiatoto River Safari will take you from the ocean to the Alps.

Waiatoto River Safari / Fourni

The Waiatoto River Safari will take you from the ocean to the Alps.

This family-run jet boat tour will take you through UNESCO World Heritage territory via the Waiatoto River into the hinterland with plenty of stops to take photos and stretch your legs.

The only jet boat tour in New Zealand to take passengers from the ocean to the Southern Alps, the two-hour safari also includes a visit to a kiwi sanctuary and native bird breeding ground, as well as an optional walk in an ancient beech forest. Meanwhile, owners Wayne and Ruth will be happy to share with you how the early Maori and European settlers fared in this beautiful but ruthless environment.


Quad, Greymouth

Emerging from the


Emerging from the “enchanted forest”.

The west coast may be known for its rainfall, but that’s one of the main reasons quad biking in the area is so much fun. On Yer Bike Adventures offers three fully guided tours in buggies for up to four people, plus one in a vehicle built for the Swedish military that puts urban SUVs to shame.

The two-hour waterfall and forest tour will take you up hills overlooking glacier-carved valleys, along stony streams, and through narrow fern-fringed trails. A highlight is splashing around in the big mud puddles – a higher octane version of jumping in puddles as a kid.

If you’re up for an unusually muddy and unusually elevated adventure, try the 90-minute mud trail tour in the army vehicle.


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