Time for a West Coast mini-break?

Hospitality and Tourism Tutor Deborah Hartigan

Hoki Gorge 3

Photo credit: Wayne Lorimer - Lorimer Photography

As the country steps down through the levels of the latest Covid-19 lockdown, the weather is warming up and daylight hours are longer. Spring school holidays are coming up and, now that we have regained some freedom, it’s a great time to venture out for a West Coast spring break to re-energise ahead of the hectic Christmas lead-up!

It’s also an opportunity to support local businesses suffering the negative effects of the pandemic, and by following public health rules we can safely balance the risk of Covid-19 with the benefits to the local economy and our own mental health.

We are incredibly lucky to live in a region of such natural beauty, offering attractions from Karamea down to Haast. The spring shoulder season brings smaller crowds and quieter tourist routes. Whether you take a week, or a weekend mini-break, you’ll be surprised by how much you can do in this spectacularly scenic stretch of the country…

Karamea is near the end of the Heaphy Track Great Walk. A few hours’ return walk gives a taster of the Heaphy experience, with wild West Coast beaches and awe-inspiring nīkau forests. Bring plenty of insect repellent as spring-time sandflies can be huge!

Also north of Karamea you’ll find spectacular limestone arches and caves, with a selection of walks through the rainforest of Ōpārara Basin.

Heading south, be sure to leave time for a wander around the always-impressive Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki.

Admired the turquoise waters of the Hokitika Gorge lately? You’ll be impressed by the re-vamped car park and track access at this popular spot. It’s well worth the half hour drive from Hokitika.

There are also plenty of high-octane activities to test your comfort zone such as such as rafting, caving, kayaking, scenic flights, jet boating, and biking the West Coast Wilderness Trail or the Old Ghost Road.

Of 2000 glaciers in New Zealand, Fox and Franz Josef glaciers are the most accessible. The small towns that service these natural wonders have much to offer, yet they are struggling in this pandemic. It’s time to book that holiday down south to take in the beautiful scenery. 

Visitors often under-estimate drive times, so be sure to check Google Maps, or the AA time and distance calculator at: https://www.aa.co.nz/travel/time-and-distance-calculator/ before you set off.

And of course, keep safe! We are still living in a pandemic. Remember to:

  • Wear a face covering if possible.
  • Practise social distancing.
  • Follow basic hygiene. Cough or sneeze into your elbow and wash your hands regularly.
  • Use the NZ COVID Tracer App or another method to keep track of where you have been. 
  • If you are feeling unwell, protect yourselves and others by staying at home, and call Healthline for advice on 0800 611 116.
  • Keep an eye on the latest updates at: https://covid19.govt.nz/ 
  • Be kind. We are all in this together. Staff at local businesses will appreciate your support and understanding!