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West Coast Wonders
By Therese Bruning
25 June 2011

From tranquil lakes & waterfalls, to rugged beaches, awesome glaciers and dramatic rock formations, seeing the natural wonders of the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island is a truly stunning drive.

There is so much to see & do, from taking it easy & watching the artists in Hokitika produce their beautiful creations, to the more adventurous guided walks & heli-hikes of Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers, or simply taking your time to stop & enjoy the many panoramic views along the way. You need to take a few days to enjoy this part of the country.

Although impossible to mention all my favourite stops here (hmmm – I think they were all favourites), here are some of my highlights.
 Lake Matheson  is just South of Franz Josef Glacier. It’s a bit of a drive off the main road to get there so you’ll want to allow at least 2 hours to get there & have a decent look around the lake. Nicknamed "Mirror Lake" it provides a mirror image of Mt Cook in its reflective waters, given the right weather conditions (unfortunately not the day we visited). We really enjoyed the walk through the native forest around the lake - the peace & tranquillity is something you don’t always appreciate until you experience it for yourself.  


 I love the rugged, driftwood covered West Coast beaches, watching the thundering ocean swells, gazing out across the Tasman Sea where you can be the only person in sight - alone with just your thoughts.


The Panacake Rocks at Punakaiki are a must-see for everyone visiting the West Coast. The walk to see these magnificent limestone formations offers fabulous views & fantastic displays of nature when the sea blasts through caverns and out through the blowholes. 


For more info on the West Coast of New Zealand's South island visit here.


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