Kiwis regard the West Coast as remote and economically disadvantaged. In truth, the population is small, farming is not rich, fishing has declined and the coal and gold are pretty much mined out. But the West Coast has an abundance of dramatic scenery and is well worth visiting. Many Europeans do visit, sometimes to the bemusement of the local tourists who have not quite got used to some some foreign ladies penchant for parading around the washrooms in the buff. (Sadly they only do it in the ladies washrooms - but then I feel fortunate that the men don't seem inclined to emulate their ladies.)
The Wekas paraded for us at Cape Foulwind (where the winds were indeed pretty foul) and the strange pancake rocks and seaweed at Punakaiki made it a worthwhile stop. In Hokitika the Wildfoods Festival was only evidenced by a wall mural, but we caught the tail end of a beach sculpture competition. Hiking to Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier was great, and the weather behaved itself in both locations, only pouring with rain when we were safely tucked up in our camper, and not ruffling the waters of Lake Matheson (famous for its mountain reflections).
Click on a photo for a larger image and a slide show.