The South Island’s West Coast is one of New Zealand most sparsely populated and beautiful regions, sandwiched between the Southern Alps to the east and the wild Tasman Sea to west.
The West Coast attracts people who love the outdoors and the wild beauty that New Zealand can offer. Named as one of the Top 10 Coastal Drives of the World by Lonely Planet, it has two magnificent national parks – Kahurangi and Mount Aspiring – at its northern and southern borders. Scenic highlights include the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki, the Haast Pass and the famous Heaphy Track
The West Coast has a long history of coal and gold mining, and most of the region’s key towns can trace their history back to mining roots. Today, coal mining remains a core industry, along with alluvial gold, forestry and wood processing, fishing (including whitebaiting), tourism and farming (in particular, dairying). The West Coast has one of New Zealand’s strongest regional economies, with a range of progressive job opportunities
At the start of 2011, the population of the West Coast was approximately 31,000 people, spread across a land area of 42,000km². The region is divided into three districts – Buller, Grey and Westland. The main towns are Greymouth, Hokitika and Westport, while smaller villages include Haast, Jackson Bay, Franz Josef and Fox Glacier. ‘Coasters’ (as they are known by other New Zealanders) are famous for their strong community spirit and independence.