Charleston New Zealand: Get Off the Beaten Track in Charleston NZ 

Nestled on the rugged West Coast of the South Island, Charleston NZ, awaits adventure lovers seeking a perfect blend of natural wonders, outdoor pursuits and peaceful serenity. The idyllic village and surrounding area offer a unique charm; however, visitors often pass through the village without stopping. Please keep reading as we uncover the hidden gems of Charleston New Zealand, and let you know the best things to do in Charleston. We’ve been visiting for over 20 years and love the place. 

Nile River, Charleston NZ

Things to Do in Charleston New Zealand

Charleston is best known for its remarkable natural landscapes that showcase the unspoiled beauty of New Zealand’s West Coast. As you venture into the region, be prepared to be awe-struck by the Jurassic rainforests and rivers. 

Appealing to both adrenaline seekers and nature lovers, here are a few must-see attractions and activities that will make your stopover in Charleston special. 

Charleston NZ

You will pass Charleston, on State Highway 6, on your way through to Westport or Greymouth. The quaint village is the only place for refreshments within a 50 km radius. So park the car, grab a drink and a bit from the cafe or pub. Then, take a moment to explore the town’s quaint streets as you take the short walk to the pristine beach at Constant Bay.

Constant Bay

Discover the pristine beaches of Constant Bay and indulge in a leisurely walk along the golden sands. The picturesque spot, nestled along Charleston’s coastline, is the perfect place to soak in the serene atmosphere and enjoy breathtaking ocean views. 

A scenic walk, the Constant Bay Loop, takes around 15 minutes and delivers stunning views of the waves pounding into the cliffs.

Photographers will especially love this bay.

Nile River

One of the best things to do in Charleston NZ is the Nile River area. The remarkable scenery and the pristine river are Instagram-worthy places.

Nile River, Charleston NZ

Charleston Caves Adventure Tours

Guided cave adventure tours explore the fascinating ancient limestone caves adorned with stalactites and stalagmites.  

The tours start on a unique rainforest train trip through the Nile/Waitakere River Canyon of Paparoa National Park. They offer tubing, glowworm-spotting and adventure caving activities in the underground wonders. 

Charleston Glow Worms Cave Tour

The same company that runs the Charleston Cave tours also offers guided tours to see glow worms illuminating the darkness with their mesmerizing glow. Beginning with a rainforest train trip, you will see thousands of bioluminescent glow worms create a starry wonderland.

Mitchells Gully Gold Mine

Explore the remnants of this historic gold mine and gain insights into the area’s gold rush heritage. Learn about the challenges and triumphs of the early miners as you walk through the tunnels and discover artifacts from the past. Mitchells Gully Gold Mine is an enjoyable Charleston West Coast activity for families. It has been something of an institution for many years, and we remember the unique experience when we came here over 30 years ago! 

You can also see glow worms in the mine.

Explore the Paparoa National Park

For those who love hiking, you can immerse yourself in the natural wonders of Paparoa National Park. Discover picturesque trails as you venture into the pristine wilderness.

Read about walks in Paparoa National Park and the geological natural wonders in Punakaiki in NZ Must Do: Best Things To Do in Punakaiki New Zealand.

Explore the beaches in Charleston New Zealand

If you have a bit more time to spend in the area, take the scenic coastal route from Charleston towards Westport. The self-drive tour starts from Beach Rd off State Highway 6 and winds past remote bays and spectacular beaches. You will often find you are the only person on the beaches.

Make sure to follow Beach Road until it loops back to the highway. 

Swim with the Locals

Popular with West Coast locals in the Summer, where the highway crosses the Nile River, is a huge freshwater swimming hole. 

Even if the weather is not great for swimming, it’s a gorgeous place to take photos at the swing bridge.

Swing bridge, Charleston New Zealand

Charleston NZ Accommodation

If you’ve fallen in love with Charleston NZ and want to stay for the night, you will find a range of options from cabins to powered sites at the Charleston Holiday Park & Motor Camp. It is in the centre of the village so you can easily walk to the beach and the pub. 

Are you heading to Greymouth? Read all about The Best Things to Do in Greymouth New Zealand.

How to Get to Charleston New Zealand

Getting to Charleston is an adventure in itself. To get there, you take a scenic drive along the Great Coast Road, considered one of New Zealand’s most beautiful drives. 

As you wind along the highway through lush rainforests and dramatic coastal vistas, the journey becomes as rewarding as the destination itself. 

You can drive to Charleston NZ, from nearby towns Hokitika and Greymouth.

Also, Charleston is just 20 minutes drive south of Westport.

For those who rely on public transport, regular bus services operate between Charleston and neighbouring towns. Check the bus schedules and book your ticket in advance to ensure a smooth journey.

If you’re heading to Westport, make sure to read Things to Do in Westport New Zealand: Nature’s Gateway, and discover how to get to the Tauranga Bay seal colony and other natural wonders on the West Coast.

Is Charleston New Zealand worth visiting?

Charleston New Zealand, is a captivating destination that beckons explorers with its remarkable landmarks and exciting outdoor activities.

If you love natural wonders, we recommend you do not miss Charleston. Whether you’re seeking adventure or tranquillity, this off-the-beaten-track destination has something for outdoor lovers.

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