West coast

10 West Coast Valentine's Day Treats

The spectacular West Coast is the perfect location to create some unforgettable memories with your beloved this Valentine’s Day, so here are 10 of our top treats for couples to enjoy.

Feb. 10, 2017

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1. Slip into a hot pool

Have a romantic soak snuggled up with your sweetheart at one of the West Coast's many hot pools. In the evening, wish upon falling stars that streak across the night sky as you relax in the blissful waters together. 

Stroll through lush rainforest to your tranquil personal pool at the Glacier Hot Pools in Franz Josef, which are freshly filtered for each use with heated water melted from nearby ancient glaciers and have ensuite bathrooms with towels supplied for your comfort. 

Recline in the natural thermal waters at Maruia Hot Springs in Maruia, between Reefton and Hanmer Springs in the Lewis Pass. As you both unwind in the rock-lined outdoor pools, admire the majestic mountain views and listen to the calming waters of Maruia River flowing nearby. Take time-out in its fabulous indoor pools before braving the cold plunge pool to invigorate both of your senses then warming up in the gorgeous new sauna.

2. Bond over wildlife 

Share a close encounter with some of New Zealand’s rarest wildlife, including kiwi, kotuku, tuatara, long-finned eels, fur seals and even the extinct moa. You will reminisce together for years to come about these life-changing bonding moments with nature.

Okarito Kiwi Tours will guide you and your partner at dusk deep into the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary, between Whataroa and Franz Josef, to see the world’s rarest kiwi species, the rowi. Hold hands with your beau as you quietly walk dark forest tracks, lit by torches that turn the bush romantically red, and listen to these iconic birds mysteriously whistle to their kiwi mates.

Take your honey to Honeycomb Hill Cave, near Karamea, with Oparara Guided Tours for a close-up view of moa remains, New Zealand’s extinct giant bird, while exploring this incredible limestone cave. Bones of some of these unique creatures are in the same spot as where they died hundreds of years ago.  

Meet the results of kiwi love unfold at the West Coast Wildlife Centre in Franz Josef, where you can watch its latest kiwi chicks in the centre’s incubation and rearing facility. It's a precious peek into kiwi love life to cherish together.

The National Kiwi Centre in Hokitika is a prime spot for an intimate view of kiwi in a nocturnal enclosure, plus the chance to meet a tuatara, an ancient reptile species that lived alongside dinosaurs millions of years ago, and feed giant long-finned eels.

Join White Heron Sanctuary Tours to witness the elegant beauty of the rare kotuku at their only breeding spot in New Zealand, deep in Waitangiroto Nature Reserve, 30km north of Franz Josef.

Take a trip to Cape Foulwind Track, 16km inland from Westport, to see the fur seal colony at Tauranga Bay. You might be lucky to see big bull seals act rather unromantically and territorially with their harems of gal seals. It’s called Cape Foulwind for a reason so you may need to rug up for the two-hour return track, but that gives the perfect excuse to cuddle up close to your darling as you stroll. The cape also has an important place in history books because it is where Dutch explorer Abel Tasman first clapped eyes on the land mass he named New Zealand nearly 385 years ago.

3. Make mountainous magic

Get up close and personal with the snow-capped Southern Alps, which stretch the West Coast's length and include New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki Mt Cook. Clasp your beloved’s hand as you absorb the magnificent views.

Air Safaris Franz Josef offers unforgettable flights over Franz Josef and Fox glaciers, traversing Mt Cook and Westland National Park. 

Fox Glacier Guiding gives couples the chance to tread on this ancient glacier after a helicopter flight to land on its icy bulk. A range of heli-hikes is available as well as a walk to the glacier’s terminal face. 

Skydive Franz and Skydive Fox Glacier offer you both an exhilarating experience at New Zealand’s most scenic skydiving spot. A tandem skydive high above this frozen wonderland will be an unforgettable shared memory for your lives together.

Heliservices has a wide range of flights and private charters to view the Southern Alps and step onto glacial snow, with numerous flights departing Franz Josef and Fox glaciers plus Haast.

Check out the most photographed lake in the country with a walk around Lake Matheson, 6km south of Fox Glacier township. Its scenic waters perfectly mirror the reflections of Mt Cook and Mt Tasman. While there, spoil yourselves at Matheson Café and ReflectioNZ Gifts and Gallery.

The Helicopter Line has a wide range of chopper trips to view and explore the incredible beauty of the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, with flights departing from both glacier townships.

4. Get flushed with gold-rush fever

Share a golden experience with your treasured partner at some of the West Coast's historic sites that celebrate the region's glittering gold-rush past and present.

Visit Shantytown Heritage Park to pan your own golden gift to your sweetheart from West Coast shingle. Shantytown is a recreated gold-rush town 10km south of Greymouth and will transport you on a romantic journey into the past. Ride its steam train through the bush to reach its gold panning spot and take time to pop into the Golden Nugget Saloon, where staff will dress you up in gold-rush gears for an old-time photo to remember your special West Coast Valentine’s Day.

Walk through Reefton i-SITE's replica gold mine and learn about the region's golden history, which continues today. The inland township has many other historic places of interest to explore for a gold-studded day of love. 

The Gold Room in Hokitika specialises in gold nugget jewellery, which can't help but appeal to romantic souls, but it also displays plenty of photos and artefacts to teach you about the West Coast's current and past gold mining history. Buy your own gold pan here and try your luck at finding a nugget at one of the public gold fossicking sites.

Take a meander along the Ross Historic Goldfields walks and journey back into the past when fortunes were made and lives lost while pursuing great wealth.

5. Take a ride on the wild side

Explore the beautiful West Coast on horseback for a fairytale journey with your beloved, riding off into nature on a mythical white charger.

Take a personalised guided ride for two with Punakaiki Horse Treks in Punakaiki, or join a twice-daily trek through Punakaiki Valley in the Paparoa National Park, which finishes on the rugged beach near the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks.

Golden Sands Horse and Wagon Tours at Barrytown Beach is the perfect chance for a slow-paced wagon trip with time to fossick hand-in-hand for pounamu on this unspoiled wild beach then relax by a camp fire with a cup of billy tea and fresh damper.

Ride through lush rainforest with stunning mountain views with Glacier Country Horses, which has a range of trekking options for you both to enjoy. It caters for all abilities, from beginners to experienced riders.

6. Share a stunning sunset

The West Coast is the best place in New Zealand for sunsets because of its west-facing orientation and mountain backdrop, which means you can watch the sun sink into the Tasman Sea from dozens of beaches along the region's length. Watch the setting sun transform picturesque scenery around you while arm-in-arm with your adoring partner.

Hokitika’s aptly-named Sunset Point is one of the prime places to watch the sunset paint the snow-clad Southern Alps with love-heart pink hues. You will want to clasp your beloved’s hand for the stunning view of Mt Cook - no need for rose-tinted glassses here, these colours are real. As the sun sinks below the horizon, witness the green flash as it disappears, providing a perfect kissing moment.

7. Pick a perfect present

Treat yourselves to a special gift as a precious reminder of your fabulous Valentine's Day on the West Coast. Home to numerous artists along the region's length, the choice is broad and will appeal to everyone's romantic tastes.

Stewart Nimmo Gallery in Greymouth is packed with fabulous gift options that are made locally or from around New Zealand. A long-time photographer, Stewart Nimmo's unique West Coast imagery is also proudly for sale.

No trip to the West Coast is complete without taking home a piece of pounamu or jade. Visit Mountain Jade in Hokitika for a hand-crafted personal piece to celebrate your love connection. While there, take time to watch these skilled artists at work.

Head to Haast to check out Santana Gifts, where you can spoil yourselves with some gorgeous possum merino knitwear and possum fur accessories to snuggle into, or select other West Coast gifts on offer to remember your Valentine's Day trip.

Hokitika's Wilderness Gallery showcases stunning work by local wildlife and landscape photographer Juergen Schacke as well as selling some beautiful New Zealand-made jewellery, art and other gifts. 

Buy a special wooden gift crafted by owner/operator Colin Luff at Kereru Crafts, set in the Paparoa Ranges in the iconic village of Blackball. Couples can also check-out the gallery's locally-made jewellery range, which uses New Zealand basalt, pounamu and ceramics.

Select a one-off handblown glass creation from the Hokitika Glass Studio to treasure together forever. You can also watch these craftsfolk blow glass - an incredible skill to witness.

8. Wander in the West Coast wilderness

If you fancy a romantic walk with your sweetheart, the West Coast is packed with tracks spanning from its northern-most tip to its deepest south. All abilities are comfortably catered for, from hard-out wilderness tracks to gentle strolls. 

A must-do is getting sea sprayed together at Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. Stroll hand-in-hand along the beautiful bush-clad walkway to check out these incredible rock stacks and witness the powerful Tasman Sea’s might as it surges up the blowholes. Around high tide is the best time for the blowholes to work their magic, which is about 2pm on Valentine’s Day. If you’re lucky, they will fill the air with a fine mist, creating rainbows on the day of love at this memorable place. Afterwards, try out the Pancake Rocks Café’s delicious pancake stacks.

Tiptoe together in the treetops at the West Coast Treetop Walkway in Hokitika. It takes you along suspended walkways high among the canopy of rainforest giants for an exhilarating experience, allowing you to view forest life from 20m above the ground. Watching birds go about their lives high in the rimu and kamahi trees is a very special treat to share. Afterwards, sample some refreshments at its café.

The Heaphy Track is an iconic great walk that is perfect for a memorable day stroll into nikau palm territory. The multi-day track starts - or ends - at Kohaihai River mouth, about 15km north of Karamea. You and your beau can stroll for as long as you fancy on Valentine's Day to sample a section of this stunning walk's scenery before retracing your steps home.

9. Please your passionate palates

Spoil each other with a night out wining and dining. The West Coast is packed with fabulous options to tempt your palates, whether it's a candlelit dinner or pub fare.

Taste some of the West Coast's wild offerings at the Speight's Ale House in Greymouth, where you can enjoy their hearty meals that include venison, wild pork and whitebait, naturally matched with your most-loved Speight's brew.  

The Heartland World Heritage Hotel, just south of Haast and a mere heartbeat from the Te Wahipounamu - South West New Zealand World Heritage Site, has a delicious menu to ensure you are both content after a day's exploring this remote and spectacular part of the world.

Take a brewery tour at Monteith's Brewing Company in Greymouth and sample its home-grown beers before tucking down together to their tapas dinner menu, washed down with perfectly-matched ale.

For the uninitiated, whitebait is arguably the West Coast’s equivalent of the oysters. Sample this dainty delicacy with your mate at the Curly Tree Whitebait Company, just 10km north of Haast, and savour the unique flavour of white gold.

If you both fancy food with a South East Asian twist, head to the King Tiger Eastern Eating House & Bar in Franz Josef for a scrumptious feast.

10. Head to a romantic hide-away

The West Coast is blessed with a massive range of accommodation from top notch luxury to simpler spots, which will suit all tastes and wallets. Go on, spoil yourselves with a romantic overnight stay this Valentine's Day.

For a wilderness experience with your dearest, head to the Rough and Tumble Bush Lodge, only five minutes from Seddonville at the northern trailhead of The Old Ghost Road mountain biking and tramping track. Surrounded by native bush and flanking the mighty Mokihinui river, settle into one of its supremely comfortable rooms with your darling Valentine.

A blissful stay at the exclusive Te Waonui Forest Retreat in Franz Josef will turn your Valentine's Day into a dreamworld, where you even get to pick your pillows from a menu. Every detail is designed to ensure you both will feel completely pampered.  

Hire one of Gentle Annie's secluded seaside holiday houses at this delightful coastal enclave, half an hour north of Westport. Enjoy some special time out rejuvenating with your partner and exploring some of the numerous scenic attractions nearby.

For some well-deserved relaxation in the midst of West Coast wilderness, book into Birds Ferry Lodge, in Charleston, where you can indulge in a holistic massage and zen out together in its outdoor spa. 

Treat your partner like royalty and stay in Hokitika's Beachfront Hotel, where Prince William has previously rested his regal head. Its high quality rooms overlook Hokitika Beach and offer supreme sunset views as you recline after an action-packed Valentine's Day.

Greymouth Seaside Top 10 Holiday Park has diverse accommodation options from luxury apartments to camping sites. This prime beachfront spot has a private spa to ensure some blissful Valentine's Day relaxation.