A Travel Guide to Westport
The gateway to the remote northern West Coast of the South Island, Westport is well worth adding to the itinerary. The gold mining town-turned-coal mining town-turned-base for the epic outdoor adventures boasts a proud mining heritage which is evident from the relics found along its many hiking trails, as well as the Coaltown Museum in the town centre. Nowadays, however, it’s all about harnessing nature that the pioneers went to great lengths to shape, whether it’s a hike or drive along Westport’s surrounding river gorges or surfing the uncrowded waves. Watching the seals at Cape Foulwind, mountain biking The Old Ghost Road, and doing black water rafting under glowworms in the Paparoa National Park are all part of the Westport experience.
So whether you’re a solo traveller, couple or a family; on a budget or seeking luxury, we’ll guide you through the activities, accommodations and more in this complete travel guide to Westport.
Fast Facts About Westport
Location: A northwestern town in the South Island in the West Coast region.
Climate: Daily average temperature – 12.5°C/54.5°F, yearly average rainfall – 2,217mm/87.3″
Find out more in What is the Weather Like in New Zealand?
Time zone: NZST / GMT+12/+13
How to get to Westport: Westport is connected to the rest of the South Island, located just off State Highway 6 and providing the only road access to the remote northern part of the West Coast via State Highway 67. The closest international airport in terms of travel time is Christchurch Airport (4 hours drive), but domestic flights to Westport Airport are available from Wellington. Westport is on the main national bus route, which you can find more information about in Bus Networks in New Zealand.
Westport for Budget Travellers
An easy way to explore Westport, thanks to the free activities and cheap accommodations, is on a budget. Natural and historical attractions make up the freebies, seen along the walking trails of Cape Foulwind to Charming Creek and everything in between. The accommodations in town are certainly characterful, from vibrant surf hostels to cool holiday parks. Whatever your budget, Westport is worth at least a one-night stay, which you can plan with The Guide to Westport on a Budget.
Budget Activities in Westport
- Hike to a waterfall on the Charming Creek Walkway
- Take a road trip along the scenic Buller Gorge
- Ride the Nile River Rainforest Train
- See seals on the Cape Foulwind Walkway
- Check out the Coaltown Museum.
For more details on each activity and more, check out the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Westport.
Budget Accommodation in Westport
Westport offers some of the most memorable backpacker accommodations in the country, as well as awesome beachside/estuary holiday parks and motels. Stay out of town and you’ll find some real cheap hidden gems along the coast. Find out more in the 10 Best Budget Accommodation in Westport.
Westport for Luxury Travellers
The luxury offering in Westport is too limited for us to make a complete luxury guide, but let us sum it up for you here. Those seeking exceptional experiences that are off-the-beaten-track will certainly find them with operators like Underworld Adventures and their epic caving and glowworm tours in the Paparoa National Park. Outwest Tours is also a noteworthy activity for those looking for something out of the ordinary, as they offer 4WD safaris in ex-army all-terrain passenger vehicles taking you to the remote backcountry of Westport. Or, for something more relaxing, take a swing at the Westport Golf Club running alongside Carters Beach.
As for accommodation, some of your most luxurious offerings in Westport are the Archer House and The Bay House B&B. Both offering fabulous romantic retreats – the former with a historical spin and the latter with modern luxury by the beach.
Westport for Families
There’s so much for families to do in and around Westport that you’re going to want to plan at least a couple of days here. That’s fine, as you have some fantastic motels, holiday parks and even homestays and hostels to choose from. Kids love playing on the mining relics left abandoned along many of the local walking trails, while seeing seals and Cape Foulwind or doing some adventure activities at the Buller Gorge Swingbridge is always a treat! Plan your family getaway with The Guide to Westport for Families.
Family Activities in Westport
- Check out the mining relics at the Denniston Plateau
- Do jet boating, ziplining and more at the Buller Gorge Swingbridge
- Enjoy a family-friendly rafting trip on the Buller River
- Watch the waves crashing at Constant and Joyce Bays
- Have a round of Westport Mini Golf.
For more details on each activity and others, see the 10 Things to Do in Westport with Kids.
Family-friendly Accommodation in Westport
Families have plenty of options in Westport between the motels with all the essential facilities and the holiday parks with recreational activities to keep the little ones occupied. Take your pick from the 10 Best Family Accommodation in Westport.
Westport for Couples
Let the rugged coast and untamed wilderness ignite the romance! Westport is a destination that often surprises couples. In the relaxing town, enjoy activities like a brewery tour and the art galleries. As for active adventures, you have mountain biking The Old Ghost Road or learning to surf together. There are magical glowworm caves to discover, beautiful and quiet beaches that make for amazing stargazing, and much more. Combined with a stay in a boutique lodge or beachside cottage and you have a honeymoon, anniversary or romantic getaway to remember. Plan your trip with The Honeymoon Guide to Westport.
Romantic Activities in Westport
- Tackle the Old Ghost Road together
- Enjoy a romantic stroll on Westport’s beautiful beaches
- Go on a glowworm cave tour
- Do a craft brewery tour and tasting
- Learn to surf together.
For more details on each activity and more, see the 9 Romantic Activities in Westport for Couples.
Romantic Accommodation in Westport
Westport is a real hub of boutique accommodation that effortlessly adds a romantic flair to your getaway. From luxury lodges to affordable cabins on the beachfront, couples are bound to find something to suit their taste and budget. Check out our top recommendations in the 10 Best Romantic Accommodation in Westport.
Westport for Foodies
Admittedly, Westport doesn’t have a huge offering for food-lovers. What it does have is a craft brewery, West Coast Brewery, which offers tastings and brewery tours if you book in advance.
As for restaurants, Westport’s dining scene mostly comprises of taverns and classic cafes like you see in the rest of the country. Anywhere that serves whitebait fritters is worth a try, as it’s a West Coast delicacy. Something a little out of the ordinary is Kathrin’s which is a European bakery, cafe and deli. The Denniston Dog Restaurant & Bar is also worth checking out with its stonegrill experience and classic West Coast pub ambience. We list more restaurant recommendations in our guides, such as cheap eats in The Guide to Westport on a Budget and slightly more romantic dining in The Honeymoon Guide to Westport.
Some accommodations include exceptional breakfasts, like Archer House and The Bay House B&B, while many of the motels have standard continental and cooked breakfasts available at an extra cost. Gentle Annie Seaside Accommodation is also a noteworthy accommodation for foodies, as it has a coffee shop selling homebaked treats, as well as ingredients to make your own woodfired pizza. You need only browse our 10 Best Family Accommodation in Westport and 10 Best Romantic Accommodation in Westport to get an idea of the self-catering accommodation available.