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Westport is the main town of the Buller District, in the northern part of the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Westport has spectacular beaches at its back door, and the mighty Buller River, the largest river by volume in NZ, runs right beside the town. Breathtaking views of the Paparoa Mountains and the Brunner Range are the backdrop for this scenic town. Outdoor adventures abound, coupled with fabulous eateries and hospitable locals.


Westport Municipal Chambers

Westport is the main town of the Buller District with a population of around 4,660 which increases somewhat through Whitebait season, September to November. Coal and gold mining are the primary employers in the district, with a growing fishing fleet as well. Westport encompasses the Carters Beach, Cape Foulwind, and Tauranga Bay communities to the west, and other communities to the north.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

By car[edit]

Westport is at the mouth of the Buller River, about 5 km up State Highway 67 from the junction with State Highway 6.

  • When travelling from Nelson or Christchurch, take State Highway 6 from Inangahua Junction via the Buller Gorge to the junction with State Highway 67. Allow at least an hour for travelling the gorge. The road through the Buller Gorge is single lane in several places and frequently traveled by buses and trucks. Take care, be patient, and enjoy the scenery.
  • When travelling north from Greymouth, take State Highway 6 along the coast via Punakaiki to the junction with State Highway 67. Allow 1.5 hours driving, plus set aside an hour to see the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki.

By bus[edit]

Intercity have a daily coach from Nelson via Murchison, arriving in the morning and going onwards to Fox Glacier. There is also a daily service from Fox Glacier, via Franz Josef, Hokitika, Greymouth (connecting with the train from Christchurch) and Punakaiki.

East West Coaches run shuttle buses from Christchurch via the Lewis Pass, or via Arthur's Pass and Greymouth. The bus stops at the Caltex Gas station, 197 Palmerston Street.

Get around[edit]

Westport is an easy town to explore and navigate by walking or bicycle. Taxis are also available. Carters Beach is a few kilometres out of town, Cape Foulwind 12 km, and Tauranga Bay a further 5 km. Each of the beach communities stretch a kilometre or two along the shore.



With the relatively small population of the West Coast region and the quantity and size of the beaches, you'll find you have them almost to yourself. Follow conservation practices - do not approach or feed wildlife, nor collect souvenirs from the beach. Dogs should be leashed to protect wildlife, especially the vulnerable little blue penguin population found throughout the wild West Coast.

  • 8 Kawatiri Beach Reserve (Derby Street to end of the road). Wide sandy beach popular with picnickers, surfers and horseback riders.
  • 9 Carters Beach. Beautiful wide sandy beach perfect for walking, biking, horseback riding and of course swimming and surfing. Carters Beach (Q32153413) on Wikidata
Cape Foulwind with Gibson's Beach
  • 10 Gillespie Beach (Hwy 67a, right on Lighthouse Road, right on Domain road). Access the beach from Omau Domain which overlooks it. Ramp leads to beach which is safe only at low tide. Beautiful beach with rock arch. (3/2021 Update: ramp is closed due to unsafe conditions.).
  • Cape Foulwind Beach (Hwy 67a, right on Lighthouse Road (Cape Foulwind) to parking on right, before arriving at lighthouse parking lot). Access the beach from small parking area on the beach side, by the gate. Path and steps lead to beach. Find the cave at low tide.
  • 11 Tauranga Bay Beach. A broad sandy shell-shaped beach. Sensitive habitat for little blue penguins. Dogs must be leashed.



  • 1 Bazil's Surf School, 54/56 Russell Street, +64 3-789 6410. Also provides private ensuite rooms and dorm rooms, as well as tent and campervan sites.
  • 2 Skate Park at Victoria Park, Corner of Russell & Lyndhurst.
  • 3 Buller Adventures (The Adventure HQ), 193 Palmerston Street, +64 5 084 86877, . Outfitter for Old Ghost Road and Paparoa Track.
  • 4 NBS Theatre, 105 Palmerston Street, +64 3 789 4219. Kiwi and international movies on this local screen. Venue also hosts concerts and other events.
  • 5 Kawatiri River Bike Trail. Bike trail along the lower Buller River and continuing on to the Kawatiri Beach Reserve. 8 km of easy track in Westport.
  • 6 Kawatiri Coastal Trail. A 55 km trail connecting Westport to Charleston is expected to be completed in 2022. The Pūwaha section connecting Westport to Carters Beach, the first 5km of the track, opened in December 2020. Trail has many historical signs, and travels through open farmland, over wetlands, through rain forest, and by the Buller River. Raised boardwalks and a new swing bridge make this an interesting and enjoyable journey on bike or foot. Wheelchair accessible.
  • Denniston Plateau Mountain Biking Tracks (Hwy 67 north to Denniston turnoff). 27 km north of Westport. DOC and Buller Cycling Club have partnered to create 3 to 27 km loops (20 mins to 8 hours). No dogs. Tracks - Easy (Grade 2), Intermediate (Grade 3).
Tauranga Bay Seal Colony
Coaltown Museum
The Denniston Incline

Carters Beach[edit]

  • 7 Westport Golf Club, Marine Parade, Carters Beach (Hwy 67A towards Cape Foulwind; Right on Golf Links Road, Right on Marine Parade), +64 3-789 8132.
  • Carters Beach Market, Carters Beach Domain and Hall. The Carters Beach Market is the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, off-season (winter) it may be monthly. Check their Facebook page to confirm.
  • Carters Beach Playground, Carters Beach Domain. Bring the kids to enjoy some a fun playground next to the beach.

Cape Foulwind and Tauranga Bay[edit]

  • 8 Cape Foulwind Walkway. starts just a few km from town and follows the coast along a ridge from the Cape Foulwind Lighthouse to the Seal Colony and Tauranga Bay. It's a nice hike and if you're lucky the fog will be rolling in, the wind will be blowing and the surf pounding and you will see why Captain James Cook named the area Cape Foulwind. About two hours return, the non-stop views are well worth the time and effort.
  • 9 Tauranga Bay Fur Seal Colony, Tauranga Bay. The 10-minute track from the car park is suitable for wheelchairs and leads to viewing platforms directly overlooking the colony.


In Westport they prefer to slow down and enjoy life, and hope you will as well. You'll find most shops are closed on Saturday afternoon, and all day on Sundays. Cafes and restaurants are open, as are all the beautiful outdoor activities.

  • Saturday Market (at the Clock Tower). Sa, 07:00 - 16:00. Seasonal weekly farmer's market.
  • 1 The Soap Box, 114 Palmerston Street, +64 3-789 8828. Gifts, NZ-made goods, cards, and large section of used books with return policy.
  • 2 Heritage Giftworld, 176 Palmerston Street, +64 3-789 8776. Gift shop with handmade New Zealand items. Find Owner's Utopia Farms hazelnuts.
  • 3 It's All Good, 6/363 Fairdown Road, +64 21 0665972, . Organic shop.
  • 4 The Black and Dane Trading Co., 151-153 Palmerston Street, +64 210 509 042.
  • 5 Dennis Bookshop and Stationary, 179 Palmerston Street, +64 3-789 8813.
  • 6 Surf Fevah, 153 Palmerston Street, +64 3-789 6911. Surfing clothing and gear.
  • 7 Habitat Sports, 234 Palmerston Street, +64 3-788 8002. Bike hires, track shuttles. Fishing, hunting, biking gear. Over 20 lines of NZ-made goods.
  • 8 Phil Wood Menswear, 190 Palmerston Street, +64 3-789 8800. Iconic shop. Chat with the owner, Phil Wood, who has a long history of West Coast exploration and knowledge.
  • 9 Buller Fabric & Fibre, 180 Palmerston Street, +64 3-789 5022. Knit, sew, quilt and fabric shop.
  • 10 Toyworld, 176-178 Palmerston Street, +64 3-789 6293.
  • 11 Heritage Jewellers, 174 Palmerston Street, +64 3-789 8630.
  • 12 Reynolds Shoes, 126 Palmerston Street, +64 03-789 8291. Shoes, sandals, boots
  • 13 Footlite & Sole, 184 Palmerston Street, +64 3-789 8626. Clothing, athletic shoes, accessories
  • Postie, 152 Palmerston Street, +64 3-788 8360. Clothing shop.
  • Bed Bath & Beyond, 152 Palmerston Street, +64 3-789 5385.
  • 14 Mitre 10, 47 Palmerston Street, +64 3-789 7879, . 07:30-17:00 M-F; 08:00-13:00 Sat; 10:00-13:00 Sun. Camping supplies.


New Zealand has a particular affection for coffee, and the West Coast is no exception. Westport boasts two local coffee roasters. You may find their products in local supermarkets and cafes.

  • Kawatiri Coffee Roasting, Virgin Flat Road km 21.
  • 15 U92 Coffee, 92 Palmerston Street.

Eat and drink[edit]

Some cafes and restaurants are closed Monday and Tuesdays. Call ahead to verify.


Carters Beach[edit]

  • 22 Donaldo's Cafe and Restaurant, 23 Marine Parade (Hwy 67A to Golf Links Road, left on Marine Parade), +64 3-789 7409, . Beautiful views of the beach, the Steeples and Cape Foulwind from this comfortable cafe serving freshly prepared food. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Small convenience store offers baked goods and staples, and scoop ice cream. Across from the Domain and playground. Outdoor seating available in the front, to better enjoy the views.

Cape Foulwind[edit]

  • 23 Star Tavern, 6 Lighthouse Road (Hwy 67A to the turnoff for Cape Foulwind), +64 3-789 6923.


Westport welcomes self-contained freedom camping, except in the communities of Carters Beach, Cape Foulwind, and Tauranga Bay.


Camping and cabins

Hostels and homestays

Motels and motor lodges in New Zealand are usually self-contained with a kitchenette in the room. Confirm before booking.

Hotels usually have amenities such as an on-site restaurant or bar.

Bed and breakfast

Carters Beach[edit]

Freedom camping is not permitted at Carters Beach.

Cape Foulwind[edit]

Freedom camping is not permitted at Cape Foulwind.

Tauranga Bay[edit]

Freedom camping is not permitted at Tauranga Bay.

Stay safe[edit]


Wi-Fi is available in cafes (on request) and internet access is offered at the Public Library during library hours. Wi-Fi is not strongly available on the street.

Post Office - NZ Post is located inside the Fresh Choice Supermarket, 18 Fonblanque Street.

  • EPIC Westport, 10a Lyndhurst Street, . For the traveler needing a work space for a day or more. Co-working (shared space) and meeting room available by the hour for non-members; private offices available at a weekly rate. Open Monday-Friday 9AM-5PM, and after-hours by arrangement. Book directly on website or contact EPIC for more information.


Public toilets[edit]

Public toilets are available on Palmerston Street a half-block block north of Lyndhurst. They are also available at Victoria Park: on Brougham Street between Russell and Queen, and on Russell Street between Brougham and Lyndhurst.

Laundry self-service[edit]

  • West Coast Laundry, 58 Palmerston Street. 7AM-8:30PM, 7 days.


Go next[edit]

It is best you check your fuel tank before leaving Westport, as it may be 70-90 km to the next filling station whether you're headed north, south or east.


  • Granity - to the north on State Highway 67, a historic mining town with some notable features (25 minutes (30 km))
  • Karamea - About 1.5 hours (90 km) drive to the north on State Highway 67, and the start (or finish) of the Heaphy Track. (There is no exit road from Karamea other than State Highway 67, so make it a day trip, at least.)


  • Charleston
  • Punakaiki - stunning coast road south on State Highway 6 (48 minutes – 56 km)
    • The Truman Track is south along the coast from Westport and is a 15 minute hike to the coast with excellent breakers and a pebble beach.
    • Pancake Rocks & Blowholes at Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park. Exceptionally interesting rock formations viewed from a paved trail, much of it wheelchair accessible.
  • Barrytown - a hamlet with a gorgeous beach and a great vibe
  • Greymouth - the next sizeable town to the south, 1 hour 30 minutes (98 km)


This city travel guide to Westport is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.