Westland – Little Known Facts

Westland Mountain view

View of the Southern Alps from near Lake Mathieson

How do you describe the serenading beauty of a region so wild, so unique, and so spectacular? It feels like describing a color to a blind person. How do you do that? Maybe some excerpts from the poem “West Coast Memories” by Rod Morris can show you what I can’t:

“When you’re down upon the West Coast, where the surf comes rolling in,
you’ll know you’ve met a Coaster, when you catch that cheeky grin.
A face that’s wrinkled by the sun, that’s weathered by the storm.
Those friendly eyes that look at you, and make you feel so warm.
When thunder talks and lightning walks, when rain tattoos the ground,
From hidden greenstone valleys, huge boulders tumble down.
… The blueness of the icy rivers as they hurtle to the sea,
The greenness of giant beech forests, that rise majestically.
The rosy glow of mountain snow, when the sun sinks in the west,
Bright starry nights without streetlights, the moon a silver crest.”

8 Interesting little known facts about Westland Region:

  • It has the White Herons’ (kotuku) only nesting place in New Zealand – in Okarito lagoon area.
  •  It boasts of the colossal Oparara Arch – the longest limestone arch in whole Australasia. 43m high and spanning 219m across the river, in Kahurangi National Park, near Karamea
  •  Fiordland National park is the largest national park of New Zealand. Extends from South Wesland. South Westland is a Unesco World Heritage area.
  •  Westland is home to rare native flora and fauna like the Rowi kiwis – the only wild population is at Okarito and there are only about 375 birds.
  • West Coast, South Island was once famous for having more pubs per head of population than anywhere else in New Zealand.
  • In 1860, Poutini Ngāi Tahu chiefs sold almost the entire Westland region to the then-government for a mere £300 (about $30,000 in 2008 terms).
  • West Coast is the only source of greenstone (pounamu) in New Zealand.
  • Lonely Planet listed the Great Coast Road of Westland Region as “One of the top 10 coastal drives in the world.”

Plan a trip to West Coast, South Island today.

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