Being in Nelson, NZ, we have a few advantages.  Advantage #1 is the good weather, which we haven’t really been able to experience much of.  Advantage #2 is the proximity to the most beautiful places in the entire country.

Today’s adventure took us from our home in Nelson to Westport, New Zealand, a city that serves as a gateway to the greatest views the world has to offer. The way there runs you through canyons and over the Southern Alps mountain range, and it’s almost as incredible as the destination.  If you find yourself on South Island, here’s what to expect on the drive.

From Nelson we headed southwest. The first thing we encountered was hectares of vineyards as far as the eye can see.

driving to west coast new zealand - vineyards

Every now and again we’ve come across mobile street lights like this one to usher groups of cars when the road’s down to one lane. This we’ve found is waaaaay more efficient than the overpaid construction guy that waves cars down to stop and go like we see in the States.


After about half an hour, we saw nothing but pine trees everywhere. They plant these and then harvest rows of them 20 years later for lumber, as pines in New Zealand grow twice as fast as they do in any other place in the world.

New Zealand Pine Trees

Eventually we got past the summit and dove down the mountain where it opened up into a green valley full of farm life.

New Zealand field


New Zealand mountains and field

Exiting the valley brought us up some mountains again, but this time the pine forests are replaced by deciduous trees turning fall colors.

New Zealand fall colors

So far 90% of our drives through mountains start to look like rainforests after a while. This is a good thing.

New Zealand south roads

New Zealand south bridge

More ultra-green valleys and cliff-side drives.

New Zealand south island valleys

New Zealand river drive

About 5km from the ocean it starts to open up a bit more.

New Zealand Road Westport

New Zealand Road Westport

And then, voila. We’ve reached the West Coast, New Zealand. Time to hike!

 New Zealand Westport