Plan a Family Trip to Westport
Many families’ West Coast journey begins in Westport, a town with wonderful beaches, a seal colony and proud mining history. If you have time, venture up to Karamea to access amazing arch formations in the Kahurangi National Park. Otherwise, there’s plenty of reasons to stick around in Westport.
Stay in welcoming and convenient motels and beachfront holiday parks in between visiting the local seal colony, walking over the remains of railways on the Denniston Plateau, and visiting the remote valleys of the West Coast on a 4WD safari. You’ll find a balanced array of tours, from free walks to all-weather rafting experiences that are even suitable for the littlies! Check these experiences out and more, as well as family accommodation listings, in this travel guide to Westport for families.
Things to Do in Westport with Kids
- See the seals along the Cape Foulwind Walkway
- 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
- Journey into remote valleys on a 4WD tour with Outwest Tours
- Check out the Coaltown Museum
- Build sandcastles at Carters Beach or North Beach
- Watch the waves crashing at Constant and Joyce Bays
- Ride the Nile River Rainforest Train
- Have a round of Westport Mini Golf.
For more details on each activity and their locations, see the 10 Things to Do in Westport with Kids.
Family Adventure Activities
Enjoy family fun on your way in or out of Westport, as well as in the town, with fantastic attractions like the Buller Gorge Swingbridge Adventure & Heritage Park. Yep, it’s a mouthful but that’s only because there is so much to do here across this long swingbridge over the Buller River. Go jet boating on the Buller River between pink granite rocks and to the spectacular Ariki Falls. Try goldpanning and enjoy one of the stunning bushwalks. Even getting back across the river can be an event on the 160m (525ft) flying fox which you can either ride in a sitting position, tandem or flying like Superman.
For a sense of the true West Coast spirit, join Johnny for an exciting 4WD adventure on Outwest Tours. Delve into the green depths of the Awakari Valley where wild red deer roam among giant native trees along with views of the rugged granite tops of the Paparoa Range. Your local guide, who owns the valley, will teach you and the kids about local bushlore as you visit various caves, pancake rocks, and a remote bush shelter for refreshments. The journey in an ex-army all-terrain passenger vehicle is an experience in itself.
Finally, enjoy some downtime with the kids at the Westport Mini Golf. The 18 holes will take you on a themed journey of the northern West Coast which may inspire you for more attractions to visit. Putt through the Oparara Arch, tackle the Denniston Incline, swing across Caters Beach and much more! The mini golf can be found in the Westport Kiwi Holiday Park & Motels but is open to all.
For more family adventures, like a train ride through the remote Paparoa National Park, see the 10 Things to Do in Westport with Kids.
All-weather Family Activities
Welcome to the West Coast, where rain reigns! If you get caught in Westport on a rainy day, no worries. The Coaltown Museum will keep you occupied for about an hour with all sorts of interesting displays focussing on the rich mining history of the West Coast. Be amazed by the giant “Q” wagon, an eight-ton coal wagon perched at the angle it would have been on the steepest part of the Denniston Incline. Delve into a coal mining tunnel and see some of the tools the miners would have used and watch a short video on the demanding life of the miners. There’s a small fee to this museum, which you can learn more about in the 10 Interesting Museums on the West Coast.
With the idea that you’ll get wet anyway, why not enjoy a family adventure on the Buller River? Ultimate Descents offers an exciting but safe family-friendly white water rafting adventure for kids aged five years and up. Revel in the amazing river gorge scenery with a mix of choppy rapids and gentle flows that even the little ones can help with pint-sized paddles. Find this tour in Murchison on your way in or out of Westport.
Need more ideas? Check out the 11 Things to Do in Westport on a Rainy Day.
Free Family Activities
Westport has a few historical and natural attractions too! These ones are free to visit so you can stick to your family budget with ease.
The Cape Foulwind Walkway is a must-do whatever your budget. The 1h15min one-way coastal walk takes you over the clifftops of Cape Foulwind on a hardpacked trail that’s even suitable for strollers. Highlights on the trail include the Cape Foulwind Lighthouse, as well as a viewing platform over the Tauranga Bay seal colony. While seals can be enjoyed year-round, the best time for viewing them is between November and February. Park at the southern end of the trail to have easy access to the beach.
For a touch of history to your trip, visit the Denniston Plateau where kids love balancing on the railway remains of this once-thriving mining site. There are all sorts of short walks here that are suitable for kids. The Brakehead Walk is a 40-minute loop to a stunning viewpoint atop the famous Denniston Incline, while the Coalbrookdale Walk is a one-hour return walk with remains of tunnels, foundations, a haulage winch and a mine fanhouse.
For more free experiences, see the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Westport.