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West Coast, New Zealand

The West Coast is one of the regions of New Zealand, located on the west coast of the South Island. It includes the districts of Buller, Grey and Westland. It reaches from Kahurangi Point in the north to Awarua Point in the south, a distance of 600 km. To the west is the Tasman Sea and to the east is the Southern Alps. The region is lightly populated, especially in the south, with the 2001 census recording 30,303 inhabitants, a decline of 2,211 (6.8%) since 1996; the area is 23,000 square kilometres. It has a very high rainfall due to the effect of the Southern Alps. It has many scenic areas, including Milford Sound, the Haast Pass, Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki and the Heaphy Track.

Major towns on the West Coast are Greymouth, Westport, and Hokitika. At one time, during the gold rush days, Hokitika had a population of more than 25,000 and boasted more than 100 pubs. A recreation of an early New Zealand settlement can be found at Shantytown.

Major industries on the West Coast include mining for coal and alluvial gold, forestry and wood processing, fishing including whitebaiting, tourism, greenstone (jade) jewelery, and moss and stone-gathering for garden products.

Hokitika is the birthplace of The Most Recent Order Of Good Bastard, a group of larrikins said to epitomise the true spirit of the positive West Coaster. A brew of beer is bottled for and named after them. While the membership rules appear fairly lax, even unwritten, regular operation and private use of vehicles like a vintage army tank or large earthmoving machinery assists in reputation. The primary requirement is a positive attitude and a spirit of having fun and making fun happen. (Source: TV 3 60 Minutes report (2002) and )

See also: popular tourist regions


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