As you drive south from Greymouth to Hokitika, the scenery is spectacular especially on a sunny day. This part of the country is known as the West Coast or just the "coast" although more correctly it's Westland and Buller.
The colours on the coast are vivid on a sunny day and as you head south from Greymouth to Hokitika, you will have the lush green bush on your left, the blue of the Tasman Sea on your right and the snow-clad mountains of Aoraki/Mount Cook and the Southern Alps ahead of you.
There is a wildness about the coast that we love. It often feels as if you've stepped back in time. The locals are very friendly and this is part of New Zealand that really must be visited, if not only for the experience of crossing the Taramakau Bridge - a one lane bridge that you share with the TranzAlpine trains!
Kumara Junction is where the road splits - take the first exit onto SH73 and head to Arthur's Pass and Christchurch or take the second exit and continue on SH6 towards Hokitika and Haast on the Glacier Highway, which we are going to do
When driving across the Taramakau Bridge, drive on one side so one wheel is on the outside of the rails and one in the middle. This is easier than trying to straddle the rails
From Kumara Junction the road heads towards the coast and then follows the coast (of the Tasman Ocean) with farmland initially on your left between the road and sea, and later on your right.
At the Arahura River, it's worth taking time to pull over to view the historic bridge and just take in the vista of the bush-clad foothills with the Southern Alps behind (sometimes even snow-clad in summer).
The Arahura River has significance in Maori mythology as it is the home of the precious pounamu, (also known as New Zealand jade or greenstone).
Hokitika was once a thriving gold mining town. Now it is more known for its arts, pounamu (jade) galleries and the annual Wild Food Festival - it's exactly that, a festival of wild food. If you're lucky enough to be in the region when its on in March, it's really worth the visit. If you aren't brave enough to sample all the food on offer, at least enjoy the carnival atmosphere.
If you want a detour on route to Hokitika, take the Blue Spur Tourist Drive that goes inland before the Arahura River and comes out in Hokitika on Hampden St.
If you have the time once you get to Hokitika, head inland and visit Lake Kaniere where you can walk around the lake or go mountain biking. The drive into Lake Kaniere is just beautiful as the road winds through native bush (rainforest).
Alternatively, drive up to the Hokitika Gorge, take a walk and marvel at the pale blue waters of the Hokitika River/
Hokitika has the main airport for the West Coast