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West Coast Travel Planning
Facts about west coast with location information
With a population of only 31,000 people, the West Coast retains the feeling of a pioneer frontier. The region has a rugged and wild beauty, known for it's rivers, rainforests, glaciers and geological treasures. The locals are known as 'coasters', a term synonymous with friendliness and hospitality. Separated from the rest of New Zealand by the Southern Alps, coasters have developed their own distinctive culture. 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 continued 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 have achieved iconic status as one of 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 lead through to a silver beech forest right into the arch.