The first town established on the remote West Coast still retains its colonial atmosphere, while developing as a base for today’s ‘wet and wild’ outdoor adventures.
Westport began as a single trading post on the banks of the Buller River. Today it is a coal and cement port, and the administrative centre for the Buller farming region. The town has an impressive backdrop of dense rainforest and the jagged peaks of the Paparoa Range.
Mining continues as a mainstay industry and the enterprise of ‘Coasters’ ensures that Westport also thrives as a transport interchange, and an outdoor adventure base. Westport is the place for energetic action and great fun. You can descend underground, tramp overland, float through rapids, explore the mountains, go rafting, diving, fishing or sightseeing by helicopter. At the end of a hectic day there are opportunities to wine and dine in Westport’s trendy restaurants.Westport
Underground rafting in the Metro Cave system is especially popular, and has a dramatic float-trip, exploring a glow-worm cave and deep ravine. The Buller, Karamea and Mokihinui Rivers are all good for rafting adventures. The Tauranga Bay seal colony, 12 km out of town, and the Cape Foulwind Walkway, provide an interesting look at this unspoiled coastline and its inhabitants.
Underground rafting in the Metro CaveThe Main visitor attraction in Westport is Coaltown, a well presented museum reconstructing the coal miner’s life. It includes a realistic walk through a simulated coalmine, with all the clanking sound effects and musty odours of the mine. It is definitely worth a visit. If you find Coaltown interesting, you may like to explore the fascinating ghost towns, long abandoned mine sites and rusting relics, deep in the inhospitable coal country behind Westport. Denniston was once the coast’s most productive coalfield, and Millerton and Seddonville are mere remnants of their former glory, but all offer pleasant heritage walks into the past.
Westport is a good place to enjoy the untamed beauty of the West Coast. It is especially satisfying for the adventurous visitor who seeks a physical challenge in the rugged mountain terrain behind the town.