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Interesting Points on the Drive

West Coast

Set between the Tasman Sea and the unbroken chain of the Southern Alps, the West Coast is a breathtaking 600km of mountains and glaciers, tranquil lakes and unruly rivers, primeval forests and magnificent coastline. The coast contains the largest area of protected land of any region in New Zealand, with access to five national parks including Kahurangi, Paparoa, Arthur's Pass, Westland and Mount Aspiring.

The Pancake Rocks and Punakaiki Blow Holes
The Pancake Rocks and Blow Holes are limestone formations over 30 million years old. Over the years, deceased lime-rich marine life would settle on the sea floor and has since been covered by layers of mud and clay. Over time the limestone has been moulded into extraordinary shapes by the wind and waves. Take a stroll from Punakaiki Resort, only 300 metres from the famous attraction, at high tide for the optimum experience.

Haast Pass
Haast Pass is a mountain pass through New Zealand's Southern Alps and takes you from the West Coast to Wanaka in Otago. The Haast Pass rises to a height of 562 metres and there is some spectacular scenery and bushwalks along the way - be sure to allow extra time for exploring.

Cape Foulwind Seal Colony
Cape Foulwind is located near Westport on New Zealand's West Coast; it's home to a Fur Seal colony which is accessbile via a well-maintained walking track to Tauranga Bay.


Christchurch and Canterbury

Arthur's Pass
Arthur's Pass is a mountain saddle that crosses through the Southern Alps and links Christchurch on the East Coast and Greymouth on the West Coast. Arthur's Pass is the highest road of three that traverse the Alps - during the drive you will reach a height of 920m and will have the chance to see some spectacular views.

Otira Viaduct
The impressive Otira Viaduct spans 440m of unstable land. The viaduct, which was completed in 1999, replaces a trecherous stretch of road that was often prone to slips, avalanches and closures.


Wanaka

Lake Tekapo
Located in the Mackenzie District, the Lake Tekapo region is renowned for the clarity of its sky and freedom from light pollution - one of the main reasons ten's of thousands of people visit annually. It is the perfect place to witness the amazing spectacle of the southern stars and transient phenomena, such as aurorae, meteor showers and the zodiacal light. Drive or hike up to the observatory on Mount John's summit, situated 300m above the beautiful turquiose waters of Lake Tekapo.

Mount Aspiring National Park
A rugged 355,518ha alpine wilderness of forest-cloaked slopes, glacial mountains, and river flats. There are excellent walking tracks for hikers, including the popular Routeburn Track, and adventure activities such as hunting and fishing. Shorter walks include a track to the Rob Roy Glacier (3hrs return), and the West Matukituki Valley track (4hrs return). Drivers along the Haast Highway enjoy outstanding views.
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