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Westcoast Travel + Planning
Facts about westcoast weather, westcoast map accommodation transport and tours
With a population of only 31,000 people, the West Coast retains the feeling of a pioneer frontier. It's a wild place known for rivers and rainforests; glaciers and geological treasures. The locals are known as 'coasters', a term synonymous with friendliness and hospitality. Isolated from the rest of New Zealand by the Southern Alps, coasters have developed a distinctive culture of their own. Their pioneering values of self-reliance and loyalty are as strong today as they were 100 years ago.
Ancient rivers of ice
Of all the glaciers in the Southern Alps, only the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers have crept as far as the rainforests. These giant tongues of ice have squeezed down their valleys to just 250 metres above sea level.
Punakaiki's pancake rocks
The pancake rocks and blowholes at Punakaiki are among the West Coast's most famous sights. The fascinating 'pancakes' are thin, horizontal layers of limestone, about two to four centimetres thick.
The Oparara Arches
The largest of the three limestone arches at Oparara is a natural tunnel 200 metres long, 49 metres wide and 37 metres high. A riverbank walkway will lead you through silver beech forest right into the arch.
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