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West Coast Road Trips

Karamea to Greymouth

Leave Karamea on SH67 eastward inland for about a kilometre skirting the northern bank of the Karamea River.

After crossing the river, you turn back west again along the southern bank before turning south along the foreshore through Kongahu.

The drive is spectacular for over 10km of glorious shoreline to Little Wanganui.

After Little Wanganui, the road turns inland through the tiny village of Te Namu and winds up through the Mokihinui Forest, through Corbyvale before descending again to Waimaire and emerging on the coast at the mouth of the Mokihinui River.

Now you begin another long lazy drive south beside the awesome Tasman surf. If you're tempted to take a dip, the townships of Summerlea, Nikau, Miko Hector, Ngakawau and Granity all feature nice beaches.

After Granity, the road becomes separated from the foreshore through Birchfield and Waimangaroa, before curving through the flood plains of Fairydown and Sergeants Hill all the way to the thriving township of Westport.

Head south out of Westport on SH67 for about 3km until you come to the junction with SH6. Continue south on this new road alongside the tranquil Okari Lagoon.

If you want, you can turn right after the junction and head out to the seal colony at Cape Foulwind, and explore the lagoon.

Continue south on SH6 through Charleston where the road again rejoins the coast for more superb coastal vistas – this time the spectacle lasts for over 40km through the seaside towns of Tiromoana, Pahautane, Ti Miko, Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks), Barrytown, Griegs, Rapahoe.

After here the road heads back inland through Runanga before you cruise into the historic seaside town of Greymouth.

Murchison to Greymouth

At the Four Rivers confluence, head out of Murchison on SH6 west along the winding Buller River valley that swings past the Matiri and Victoria forests.

Along the way you'll pass through the tiny settlements of Fern Flat, Newton Flat, Lyell and Inangahua.

After that the road comes to the Inangahua Junction. Take SH69 south alongside the river through Oweka, Inangahua Landing, Rotokohu, Larry's Creek, Cronadun, Capleston, Waitahu to the historic goldmining town of Reefton.

From there you turn right onto SH7 and travel southwest following the Grey River through the settlements of Taipoiti, Tawhai, Maimai, Hinau, Mawheraiti, Waimaunga and Hukarere where there is a park for a rest stop.

The next township of Ikamatua has a golf course if you feel like stretching your legs.

Back on the road southwest you'll cruise through more little settlements of Totara Flat, Raupo, Ahaura, Matai, Ngahere, Kamaka, Stillwater, Taylorville, Kaiata and Omoko before finishing at Greymouth.

Greymouth to Franz Josef Glacier

Depart Greymouth south on SH6. On one side you are flanked by the Omoto forest and on the right side, the awe-inspiring Tasman Sea with its huge waves rolling ashore.

Continue south through Karoro, South Beach, Paroa, Gladstone and Camerons. There is a replica gold town here to see the way life was during the gold rush days.

Next the road takes a short trip inland from the coast to Kumara Junction.

Turn right to stay on SH6 back to the coast and south through Chesterfield, Awatuna, Kaihinui and Seaview to Hokitika. Hokitika is a great place to explore with many tourist attractions and access to many walks like the Lake Kaniere Walkway.

Leave Hokitika south on SH6 through Takutai, Mananui and Ruatapu to Ross where there is an historic goldfields walkway.

Then keep heading south through Fergusons, Kakapotahi and Pukekura before driving beside the picture-postcard Lake Ianthe and through the rural towns of Harihari, Te Taho and Whataroa.

From here you turn towards the coast to the beautiful Lake Wahapo.

If you feel like a side-trip turn right at The Forks and drive west to the coast. After about 6km you will emerge at Okarito – a massive lagoon which is home to a colony of kotuku (white heron).

Back at The Forks, it's an easy 15km drive past Lake Mapourika and the settlement of Tatare before rolling to the foot of the Franz Joseph Waiau Glacier.

Franz Josef Glacier to Wanaka

Drive south from Franz Joseph Waiau through the Waikukupa Forest and soon you will arrive at the foot of the Fox Glacier.

Take a side trip to the crumbling lower edge of the glacier, a great place for a picnic and to explore.

Continue on through the Karangarua Forest and Jacobs River settlements, where the road descends to the coast at picturesque Bruce Bay and Mahitahi.

The road then heads inland for around 70km passing by Lakes Paringa and Moeraki before emerging once again on breathtaking coastal views at Knights Point.

The road then hugs the coastline for about 30km to Haast Beach where there is an airport and a camping ground for road-weary travellers.

Leaving Haast, take SH6 southeast along the Haast River before swinging southwest again through the Haast Pass to Makarora and on through Lake Hawea to popular Lake Wanaka.

It is recommended that you have detailed road maps before departing on your trip