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West Coast & Glaciers Backpackers & Hostels

The West Coast or just the ‘coast’ as locals call it, is packed full of wild rivers, amazing coastline rainforests and glaciers. Its two most famous glaciers, Fox & Franz Josef are definitely worth a trip to see, as are the Punakaiki ‘Pancake’ Rocks, visiting a seal colony at Cape Foulwind or driving along the coastal road – voted one of the top 10 in the world!

Currently 26 hostels in this area

Filter by Location: View All , Fox & Franz Glaciers (6), Greymouth (4), West Coast (12), Hokitika (4)

West Coast Beauty
Eco friendly hostel the perfect base for those wanting to experience the regions natural beauty. Yes, we have an EV Charger.
EV Charger, Sauna, BBQ area and gardens, Fully Equipped Kitchen, Parking

The West Coast was originally home to Maori tribes who were drawn to the area due to the abundance of greenstone (pounamu) - a highly valued stone in Maori culture. However, the mid-1800s witnessed the area become the wild west of New Zealand, with prospectors lured up to the rugged West Coast region from Otago with the promise of untapped gold fields and fortunes to be made.

The inhospitable geography and often unpassable terrain rendered this not quite a fool’s errand, but a largely thankless endeavour. The region proved not to be as rich as first anticipated, and the “roaring” coast turned out to be something of a misnomer. Much of the land was nicknamed “tucker grounds”, meaning it was good enough to grow food but was hiding no gold. Towns such as Greymouth, Hokitika and Okarito emerged from the scrub, and became sites of lawlessness until the early 1900s, when mining companies brought regulation and stability.

Today, the West Coast is calmer, sparsely populated, and made beautiful by the coastal drive down Highway 6, rated as one of the best in the world, with lush lowland forest framing the ocean foreward. Mining still forms the foundation of its economy, but in true New Zealand style there is a growing cottage industry scene, with microbreweries, jewellers (again working in greenstone), and small manufacuturing and woodcraft. Tourism also flourishes, with two of the big hitter attractions – Franz Josef and Fox Glacier – helping to support local towns and bringing visitors from across the world.

Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers

The Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers are only separated by about twenty miles along Highway 6, but although both fed from the neighbouring Southern Alps they each have their own character. Fox is the baby of the two, at “only” 2600 metres, and as such Fox village is smaller and quieter that Franz Josef village, with its glacier extending 12,000 metres and attracting a higher number of visitors.

Go to Fox Glacier if you want a more personal encounter, with tour companies offering people-carrier pick ups from the village and guided walks on the glacier. The accommodation is clustered along Cook Flat Road, and the few pubs take their cue from when the area was filled with gold prospectors – rustic and homely, with honest food and beer. A short drive out of town leads you to the crystal clear waters of Lake Matheson. The surrounding mountains are echoed by the lake’s unusually reflective surface, and it’s a wonderful spot for contemplation and to listen to soft song of the water birds which gather on the lakeshore.

Franz Josef village is a little busier, with attractions such as the hot pools and the West Coast Wildlife Centre making it more than just a stopping off point when visiting the glacier. Alternatively, try kayaking and eco-rafting on the nearby Waiho River – every bit as picturesque and thrilling as the rides you’ll find in Queenstown or up in Whangarei or Bay of Islands, but lesser travelled and much more secluded.


All Other Backpacker Hostels in This Area

124 State Highway 6, Two Mile, Hokitika
+64 (0)3 755 7179
Rongo Backpackers
130 Waverley Street, Karamea
+64 (0)3 782 6667
Bazil's Hostel
54-56 Russell Street, Westport
+64 (0)3 789 6410
The Lazy Cow Accommodation
37 Waller Street, Murchison
+64 (0)3 523 9451
Barrytown Backpackers
Main Road, Barrytown
+64 (0)3 731 1812
Trip Inn
72 Queen Street, Westport
+64 (0)3 789 7367
Neptunes International Backpackers
43 Gresson Street, Greymouth
+64 (0)3 768 4425
Mountain Jade Backpackers
41 Weld Street, Hokitika
+64 (0)3 755 8007
Stumpers Bar & Backpackers
2 Weld Street, Hokitika
+64 (0)3 755 6154
Greenstone Retreat
45 Greenstone road, Kumara
021 08113396
Ivory Towers
Sullivans Road, Fox Glacier
+64 (0)3 751 0838
154 Kaniere Road
154 Kaniere Road, Hokitika
+64 (0)3 755 7440
Wilderness Accommodation
Pauareka Road, Haast
+64 (0)3 750 0029
Glow Worm Accommodation
27 Cron Street, Franz Josef
+64 (0)3 752 0172
The Old Nurses Home
104 Shiel Street, Reefton
+64 (0)3 732 8881
The Old Slaughterhouse
Dean Creek, State Highway 67, Hector
+64 (0)3 782 8333
Waynes World Westport
42 Romilly Street, Westport
+64 (0)21 210 2211
Fox Pod Hostel and the Bigfoot Bar
39 Sullivans Road, Fox Glacier
+64 (0)3 751 0022
Te Nikau Retreat
19 Hartmount Place, Punakaiki, West Coast
+64 (0)3 731 11 11
Okarito Beach House
The Strand, Okarito
+64 (0)3 753 4080
Global Village
42-54 Cowper Street, Greymouth
+64 (0)3 768 7272
Duke Backpackers
27 Guiness Street, Greymouth
+64 (0)3 768 9470
Rainforest Retreat
Cron Street, Franz Josef
+64 (0)3 752 0220
Noah's Ark Backpackers
16 Chapel Street, Greymouth 7805
+64 3 768 4868
Chateau Franz Backpackers
10 Cron Street, Franz Josef
+64 (0)3 752 0738 or Freephone 0800 728372