The fragile biodiversity of a large wetland area has been secured by the National Heritage Fund, having purchased the land from its longstanding previous owners. The tract of land around Okuru on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island is home to many species of rare plants and birds, and a perfect example of open pakihi, a type of wetland characterised by low soil fertility. Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner said, “The pakihi provides a perfect home for the declining South Island fernbird and supports several types of native plants, including sun orchids, carnivorous sundews and bladderworts. Both pakihi and the wetland and lowland forests which make up this land are under-represented in public ownership, so the acquisition is doubly welcome.”
John Dalgety, one of the former owners of the wetland area, said that the land had been in his family for three generations but it was time to give it up: “Now is the time for this well-positioned coastal property to be both protected and made available for Haast locals, as well as visitors to South Westland.”
To catch a glimpse of the remarkable wetland animals and rarely seen native flora that thrive in the West Coast wilderness there’s no better way than driving down the western edge of the South Island. For the perfect mix of flexibility and comfort on your journey down south, picking up a Picton or Nelson motorhome rental really is the way to go.
If you’re wanting to linger in the balmy Nelson climate for a while there’s certainly a lot of incredible things to see and do, but if the siren call of the western coast is just too strong then it’s time to head down State Highway 6 to Westport. This will be your first sight of the sea since leaving Nelson and though Westport is small, there is a plethora of walking and hiking tracks in the area, not to mention the chance to do jet boating, underground rafting and caving.
Moving onward, you’ll come across Greymouth and (a little further south) Hokitika. Greymouth offers an array of adventure opportunities similar to Westport, but for the beer lovers among you it also boasts the Monteith’s Brewing Company - take a tour to get straight to the source of some of New Zealand’s finest and most popular brews. If you’re planning your trip around March, do not miss Hokitika’s Wild Food Festival. Make sure you get tickets ahead of time as they tend to sell out; this a gastronomic experience unlike any other. With past offerings including such exotic delicacies as scorpions, locusts and stallion semen, it certainly caters to even the most adventurous of epicures. Of course if you’d prefer to play it a little safer, there’s also the likes of wild boar, fresh local seafood and gourmet meals prepared by world class chefs.
Heading inland for a little, your journey will take you pretty much straight past two glaciers: Fox and Franz Josef. Make the time to see these majestic ice fields - you won’t regret it.
For the final leg of your journey, you may want to leave the West Coast behind and follow State Highway 6 on to the beautiful Lake Wanaka. One of the most picturesque locations in the entire country (and well equipped to cater for visitors), this is the perfect spot to unwind and treat yourself at the end of a long journey.
There’s so much to discover on the West Coast that we’ve barely scratched the surface - but thanks to initiatives like the Natural Heritage Fund, these wild places will remain pristine for visitors and locals alike, for years to come.
Christchurch is an incredibly popular start and finishing location for campervan trips around the South Island. Our New Zealand motorhome hire page has the rest covered.