New Zealand West Coast Adventure
From 17/12/2023 to 03/05/2025
Get out and see a different side to the South Island, making the most of the wide-open spaces of the rugged and largely unexplored West Coast.
Go deeper into the history of the area with stories of the goldrush days during visits to Reefton, Kumara and Arrowtown.
Take in the magic of the spectacular Fox Glacier region weaving through rainforests and a walk along shimmering Lake Matheson.
Witness the stunning, millions of years old scenery at the dramatic Pancake Rocks and the Hokitika Gorge, and spot fur seals at Cape Foulwind.
By travelling on this trip, you’ll directly support our Intrepid Foundation partner, Forest & Bird.
Donations help them give nature a voice - protecting wildlife and wild places in Aotearoa New Zealand by advocating for conservation on the ground and at a government level.
Breakfasts Included: 6.
Hotel (5 nights),Motel (1 night).
Age: min 15.
Group Size: 1 - 12.
Reefton - Historic Town Visit.
Reefton - Goldfields Museum with Local Storyteller.
Reefton - Billy Tea with 'The Bearded Miners'.
Punakaiki - Pancake Rocks & Blowholes Walk.
Kumara - Glow Worm Cave Visit.
Charleston - Nile River Gorge Rainforest Train Ride.
Westport - Seal Colony at Tauranga Bay.
Westport - Cape Foulwind Walkway & Lighthouse.
Hokitika - Gorge Visit.
Okarito - Okarito Lagoon Walk.
Fox Glacier - Lake Matheson Walk.
Itinerary / more information
1 - Christchurch Welcome to your Intrepid exploration of the South Island! Your adventure begins in Christchurch, where a welcome meeting will take place at 8am for you to meet up with your local leader and fellow travellers. After your meeting, it's time to hit the road, first heading to Hanmer Springs in the Lewis Pass national reserve. Check out the natural hot pools surrounded by greenery as the snow dusted peaks of the Southern Alps look on. You can even opt to take a dip. Next up, travel to Reefton, a tiny town that punches above its size. Step back in time and meet a local story-teller, learning about the town's gold mining past, the miners' families, the storekeepers, and embrace the Cornish influence. You'll even have the opportunity to see the water powered gold stamping battery working. Head into the town centre proper where you'll meet the 'bearded miners' for a cup of manuka enhanced black billy tea and to watch the technique of gold panning. Finally, drive through the spectacular Buller Gorge to the town of Westport and perhaps round off the day with a group dinner.
2 - Tauranga Bay Start your day with a stop at the wild Cape Foulwind and admire incredible views of the mountains and rugged coastline. The headland is home to a fur seal breeding colony so keep your eyes peeled, they can easily blend in with the rocks! Continue to Charleston this morning to join a train ride in open carriages through primeval rain forest. 'The Nile River Rainforest Train' recreates a bygone era where bush trams once prevailed. Experience the spectacular wilderness of the Nile River Canyon in Paparoa National Park. Next up is Punakaiki, a town with less than 100 residents, but famed for its so-called Pancake Rocks. These layers of fossilised animals and plants, formed over 30 million years ago, were thrust above the surface by the moving earth and sculpted by wind and water. At high tide the sea is forced through blowholes in the limestone to burst metres into the air - it's an entertaining sight! Continue to Kumara, a former goldrush town with an intriguing history (this little place was the home of New Zealand's longest serving Prime Minister!). On arrival, settle into your hotel, then head out to meet the town's brightest residents. Just behind your hotel, you'll find dazzling glow worms lighting up old mineshafts. Once the sun has gone down, be sure to look up. With very little light pollution, the stargazing in Kumara is absolutely out of this world (literally!).
3 - Hokitika Today begins with a visit to the Hokitika Gorge, one of the West Coast's most stunning spots. Shimmering turquoise waters wreathed with lush native bush make a sight to remember. Then it's on to the Okarito Lagoon, alive with the calls of over 70 unique species of birds. Head out on a nature walk culminating in a lookout point from which, on a clear day, you can enjoy an unbeatable view over Westland (Tai Poutini) National Park from the snow-capped Southern Alps (Ka Tiritiri o te Moana) across extensive native forest to the lagoons and beaches of the coast. Continue your journey south to the Fox Glacier township, your gateway to the dramatic and enormous Fox Glacier and your base for the evening.
4 - Fox Glacier Kick off the day with a gentle walk around the glittering Lake Matheson, dubbed the 'mirror lake' for its dark waters which perfectly reflect the towering Southern Alps - if you take one picture of your West Coast adventure, this should be it! The rest of the day is yours to make the most of what this amazing slice of the country has to offer. Perhaps take a shuttle back to Franz Joseph Glacier or you may want to visit a pounamu (greenstone) workshop and learn how to carve your own original piece. Alternatively you can book a helicopter ride up to the glaciers, with the potential to add on a hike through the spectacular landscape. There's also no shortage of interesting walks and cosy pubs if you fancy a more low-key afternoon - have a chat to your leader about your options for the day.
5 - Wanaka Make tracks for Wanaka, making plenty of interesting stops along the way. First up is Ship Creek, where you'll take a walk through quintessentially rugged West Coast scenery. You can either walk through shady swamp forest, or explore windswept sand dunes and coastal forest. Then it's on to Mt Aspiring National Park. Make the short walk to the incredible Thunder Creek Falls, featuring an impressive 96-metre-tall cascade. Arrive in Wanaka and enjoy an evening at leisure.
6 - Wanaka With Lake Wanaka as the star of the show and surrounding mountains only complimenting its beauty, there's no doubt this is one of the most attractive towns in New Zealand. Today is completely free for you to enjoy the surroundings of Wanaka, and there's certainly no shortage of amazing things to see and do here, so be sure to chat to your leader for their top tips. You may like to take a pleasant bike ride along the shores of Lake Wanaka or get on the water and cruise to Mou Waho Island, where you'll find an island in a lake on an island in a lake! There are heaps of beautiful short walks in the area, and a visit to the famous #thatwanakatree is a must. Or simply find a cosy cafe to admire the view.
7 - Queenstown Depart Wanaka this morning and drive through the magnificent scenery of the Crown Range. Arrive in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world, in the late morning (approximately 10:30am), at which point your West Coast adventure will come to an end.
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