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Things to do around Punakaiki and Westport


The Northern West Coast Region offers a wide range of scenery and historic sites to see and outdoor adventure sports and activities to do, all set within the natural riches that are found here from the mountains to the sea.Video Here By far the region’s biggest attraction is its geography and wildlife, from the rugged coastline and its spectacular rock formations, the deep gorges and valleys carved by ancient glaciers and the region’s many rivers, to the lush rainforests filled with an abundance of unique and wonderful native vegetation and birdlife.

Experience the wilderness and scenic beauty of the Northern West Coast Region, taking in both history and nature. There are many excellent walks for the casual wanderer through to the keenest hikers.

Walk the historic Charming Creek Railway which is carved in rock, through the awe-inspiring Ngakawau River Gorge.

North from Birds Ferry Lodge

The Denniston Experience
Heli-Hike into the Heaphy Hut and walk out the same day. This is the most scenic part of the famous 3 day tramp and you can experience it in just one day. The walk takes about 4-5 hours for those with a reasonable levol of fitess and we can supply a gourmet picnic lunch for you to take with you.Bookings advised via Birds Ferry Lodge.

The Denniston Experience… Learn what life was like over 100 years ago as a miner at Denniston. Tours include: – a train ride along the old coal transport rope road high above the Waimangaroa Gorge- an interactive mine experience in the historic 1880’s Banbury Coal Mine.

Limited seats, so booking required. Call 0800 881 880

Hardy souls lived and worked in the windswept bleakness of Denniston’s infamous mountain plateau on New Zealand’s wild West Coast. Midst the endless tapping of picks, creaking of props and earthy black soot of ever present coal dust from an 1880s coal mine, a proud and close-knit community formed within this remarkable land of contrasts.

Plunge deep into the darkness of one of New Zealand’s oldest sources of energy and industrial innovation.

Reveal your own pioneering spirit tagging into the Banbury mine and becoming part of its underground workings – swinging banjo shovels, clipping coal tubs, erecting pit props and imagining the extremes of life at the coalface.Take a journey inward at the place all but forgotten.

To the north is Karamea, renowned for its subtropical paradise from where you can venture on well-formed tracks into the wilderness of the Oparara Basin, the popular Heaphy Track, and the Honeycomb Caves.

One of the region’s best-kept secrets is the Oparara Basin. Tucked away in the Kahurangi National Park, is a series of three stone arches carved out by the Oparara River. The Oparara Basin is well off the beaten track, so you will need to set out early, but this is definitely a must-see.

Punakaiki, one oft the West Coast's main attractions

South to nearby Punakaiki

A short drive from Birds Ferry Lodge the Punakaiki “Pancake Rocks“, Blowholes and Truman Track are a popular destination for tourists. Over thousands of years the powerful Tasman Sea has created these amazing rock sculptures and limestone landscape features, only a short walk from the Punakaiki Visitor Centre on State Highway 6. For those who have more time then venture inland through the limestone rock canyons either by foot, horse trek or kayak.

West Coast adventure nearby

Try Horse Trekking through the rainforest and along the banks of the mighty Buller River, or take a Jet Boat Ride through the Buller Gorge to experience this unspoiled paradise from the water. (this is the most powerful Jetboat in New Zealand)

Horse trekkingWest Coast

There is also White Water Rafting, Kayaking and the ever-popular Cave-rafting which combines glow worm grottoes with rapids on the Nile River (a must!). The caves can also be explored on foot with a guide.

The region is fast becoming popular with mountain bikers too, and there are Mountain Bike Trails throughout, ranging from scenic to challenging. We have mountain bikes available including a Tandem for you to hire while staying with us.

West Coast beaches galore

Local Beaches along the coast are great for beach-combing and fishing, and popular among local surfers. The waves crashing on the rugged coastline is one of the best-known images of the region and if you pick the right day, a great example of nature at its wildest.

West Coast history

Present day and historical Coalfields and Gold mines are nestled high on the plateaus and the river valleys of the Northern West Coast. Here the strength, will and hardship of the pioneers who came to build their lives and bring riches to our nation can be seen in the buildings, relics and stories they left behind as a legacy to future mining in the region.

Venture into a simulated coal mine at the Coaltown Museum in Westport for a taste of the conditions ‘down in the pit’, or try your hand panning for gold at one of the old gold mining camps along the riverbanks.

André the tour guide

For 17 years André has guided small groups around the South Island and he will tailor a local tour to suit your individual interests and abilities. He has extensive knowledge of the flora and fauna of the South island, which he will be delighted to share with you on one of his trips.

For guests staying for more than one night a short walking or driven tour is complimentary. (Pre booking essential)

Spa and massage

After the guided tour, why not relax by enjoying a therapeutic massage? The combination of spa and massage will have you thinking you are in heaven! André holds a Certificate of Qualification in Holistic Massage Therapy, which is recognized with New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

To arrange your massage appointment please speak to either Alison or André.