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The Rugged West Coast

It takes two full days to drive down the West Coast. Make that three to four if you stop and experience something. It's rugged and beautiful, has very little decent accommodation, the glacier hikes are over-busy and over-commercialised, but of course we know some lovely gems once you get behind the obvious.

What most people do is rush down the Coast getting stressed, wait for weather to clear for a helihike (30% chance), join the queue of helicopters and groups on the ice for a group tour - if they're lucky, and then rush off again all stressed to try and make it to Queenstown.

One of our favourites here is Bevan Climo.  Son of the paramount chief and pounamu (greenstone, jade) master carver, Bevan is also the front man for an excellent Bluegrass band.  He can take you deep into anything to do with pounamu, including the Arahura River, or introduce you to colourful locals over a beer. 

Away from the glacier obsessed crowds there are also beautiful beaches, lagoons, lakes and beech forests which you can explore with local guides.  The real West Coast is a real treat.