New Zealanders have just a couple of months left to explore their own backyard before the international borders fully reopen and foreign tourists return.
The agency representing tourism operators for the West Coast is inviting Kiwis to explore the region with what it's calling a "once-in-a-lifetime winter holiday" during these final two months, which include the new Matariki public holiday.
As borders were closed during the COVID-19 pandemic and not even New Zealanders could explore the country during the lockdowns, the region is said to have embraced an opportunity to reset its approach to sustainability and conservation, leaving the Coast more beautiful and well preserved than ever.
"While it has been an incredibly tough couple of years, the silver lining to the COVID-19 border closures is that nature has had a chance to recover," said Patrick Dault, Destination and Tourism Manager at Development West Coast (DWC).
"The West Coast has never been set up better for tourism and now is the perfect time for Kiwis to take New Zealand's ultimate untamed road trip before our borders open fully at the end of July.
"A two-year break from international tourism has given us the opportunity to stop, reflect, and reset how we do things with a new focus on sustainability. We have learned from mistakes and have made sure that all our tourism practices will preserve the beauty of the West Coast for generations to come."
To get to the West Coast, travellers can fly directly to Hokitika Airport, take the TranzAlpine from Christchurch, or drive three hours from either Nelson or Queenstown.
Once there, they can expect an untamed natural wilderness of rivers and rainforests, glaciers and geological treasures.
Having your own transport is arguably the best way to get around the region - the Great Coast Road, stretching from Westport to Greymouth, has been voted one of the top 10 coastal drives in the world by Lonely Planet.
- Aside from amazingly scenic drives, what should you do on the West Coast? DWC has provided some top tips:
- Spend a day visiting the world-renowned Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glaciers. Whether you want to see them with a skydive experience, helicopter trip or guided walk, they are not to be missed
- Treat yourself to a couple of days of relaxation and rejuvenation at a luxury wellness retreat in the rainforest
- Check out Ōkārito and reconnect with nature
- Kayak on Lake Mapourika and indulge your tastebuds in the freshest sashimi you’ll ever get
- Carve your own pounamu to take home at Te Koha Carving studio
- Have a post-hike soak in mountain stream water at the Waiho Hot Tubs.