Most visitors to the West Coast are coming to see the twin glaciers, Franz Josef Glacier to the north, and Fox Glacier, 23km further south along SH6. This is ‘Glacier Country’ and while the two township were incredibly busy little places before 2020, they have been hit hard by the lack of international visitors since then. Expect them to bounce back rapidly though.
Franz, as it’s commonly known, is 176km south of Greymouth, while Fox is 261km north of Wanaka, meaning that many visitors with their own wheels overnight in one of the glacier townships. There’s good accommodation, plus lots of eating and drinking options in each of the towns.
If you’re intending to walk around Lake Matheson early in the morning or in the evening, then Fox Glacier is probably the place to stay.