Stacey Banfield

Christchurch Based Makeup Artist & Blogger

Exploring the West Coast of the South Island

Living in Christchurch I feel like we are so spoilt for choice when it comes to awesome road trips. There are so many places that aren’t too far away, that have so much to offer. We recently headed to the West Coast to explore a little more and had the best time!

We started our trip from Hokitika, which was about a 3.5hr trip from Christchurch. Arriving later at night meant we didn’t have much to look at on our way there, apart from a couple of shooting stars which was pretty cool and of course car karaoke always makes for an entertaining drive. The following morning we woke at 5AM yup crazy right!but we  have wanted to visit Lake Matheson for such a long time, so we needed to make sure we got there in time to see the sunrise.

It took us just over 2hrs to get from Hokitika to Fox Glacier but it was totally worth the early morning start. Lake Matheson is one of the most beautiful places I have been, it’s so quiet and peaceful and the reflection really is unlike anything else I have ever seen. If you are hoping to visit Lake Matheson make sure you go at either Dusk or Dawn as by the time we were leaving, the lake was starting to become choppy, so the reflection was pretty distorted.

After leaving Lake Matheson, we stopped in at Franz Josef for some well deserved brekkie. We were so lucky to have such amazing clear blue skies for our entire trip, so of course the glacier’s and mountains around the village,  looked incredibly pretty with the sun hitting them.


From Lake Matheson we headed back towards Hokitika with a few stop offs along the way. There’s lots of cool lakes that are totally worth checking out on your drive back so make sure you allow time to stop in. Hokitika is such a cool little town, their beach has always been a fave place of mine,it just has a really cool vibe about it so take the time to chill out there for a bit too.


Next up was Hokitika Gorge, another place you absolutely have to check out if your in the area. A short walk from the carpark will lead you to the swing bridge. The best part about this walk is that it is safe to take the kids, and is wheel chair friendly so everyone gets to enjoy the beauty that is the Hoktika Gorge.

Similar to the blue pools of Wanaka, your eyes will be captivated by the crystle clear, green blue waters of the gorge. On a Summer’s day I can imagine how packed it would get down by the waters edge, it really is such a tranquil spot!

From the gorge we headed to Punakaiki where we stayed at the amazing Woodpecker Hut thanks to Canopy Camping (See post for more details). Punakaiki is a coastal town with so much to offer. From the Pancake rocks to the Paparoa National Park and the many beaches surrounding, the West Coast offers some of the best Native scenery.

On our journey home we went via Lake Brunner in Moana. Lake Brunner has always had a place within my heart. Growing up as kids we would head away to the family bach and have the time of our lives. Many early morning’s were spent out on the Lake,and I can honestly say it’s still as beautiful as ever.

This is also a popular spot for Wedding’s, so if your looking for something a little different to the norm Lake Brunner could be exactly what your after. P.s When heading to Brunner make sure you also check out the Carew Falls!

The last stop was of course the famous Castle Hill, we both had been here before but it was such a nice day we thought why not stretch the legs a little more. Castle Hill is a whole heap of really impressive limestone rock formations that attract crowds from all over the globe. A popular area with rock climbers, you can also climb some parts free style, just make sure you take care as it is a long way down eeek!

In the 3 days we spent on the West Coast we covered so much, yet we still have so many spots left on our list so we can’t wait to go back and visit. I can’t urge you enough to take the time out and discover more of what’s around you. Not only is it so much fun, but it really does make you feel like your living a more fulfilled life.

Happy Wandering x




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