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8 Day Wild West South Island Adventure Tour

Pricing From
$1348

South Island
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Overview

JULY SALE NOW ON!!

We are pleased to announce our biggest sale yet.

Bookings must be made by 15 July 2019 to receive a whopping 20% off all tours (excluding December & January departures). 

Lonely Planet has named driving the West Coast of South Island one of the Top 10 Drives in the World. Come and see why!

Curious limestone formations, spellbinding glaciers, untamed coastlines, crystalline lakes, primitive-looking forests, majestic peaks, contrasting gold sand beaches, and subtropical and earthy landscapes reminiscent of a Lord of the Rings setting can all be found on this Wild West South Island Adventure Tour in New Zealand. A range of unique activities also awaits, like heli-hiking on one of the most accessible glaciers in the world, strolling amongst the oddly sculpted Pancake Rock formations, or trout-watching in reflecting lakes with water so pure it’s easy to see the fish.

The West Coast is known for its wild weather, helping shape the land and its people over time.  The coastline delights with its dramatic contrasts, and is a marvellous place for you to hike, bike or drive through. Plenty of photo opportunities present themselves along the way, so make sure your camera is ready.

Intriguing characters add another layer of interest to the West Coast. Fondly called “coasters”, the hardy yet welcoming locals of the West Coast make this underpopulated part of New Zealand all the more special. Their pioneering spirit is as evident today as it was when they first carved out life on the coast more than a century ago.

This place also overflows with colourful history. Whether you love hearing stories about the Gold Rush period, accounts of decades of coal mining, or traditional tales of the Maori hunt for the green stone or ‘pounamu’, it’s all here.

From the West Coast, we continue to the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park where an idyllic combination of beach and bush awaits. Enjoy a selection of activities your heart desires. Kayaking, hiking, sailing, seal encounters, conservation, and thrill-seeking pursuits (canyoning, hang gliding and skydiving) are just some of the adventures that will leave you invigorated.

Wild West is the place to be to witness epic sunsets, and at some stage on this Wild West trip you will be rewarded with breathtaking sunsets from our campsites. You will come to realize that nature lovers will find the Wild West tour a must-do.

As to the start your journey, you have a choice to either begin in Queenstown or Christchurch, which is linked by a public bus service operating daily except on Christmas Day. So if you decide to explore Queenstown for a few days before the tour leaves, that should be easy to arrange. In fact, it’s highly recommended!

Trip Options

Christchurch is often the first point of entry of many travellers arriving into the South Island, so we have taken that into account and designed two starting options for this tour that would work well with your plans.

  • Begin in Queenstown (8 days). This is how our tour usually starts. You can always choose to arrive a few days early before the tour departs to understand why Queenstown is called the ‘adventure capital of New Zealand.’ There are plenty of thrills to experience, and you are welcome to try all of them!
  • Begin in Christchurch (9 days). Embark on your tour a day early and journey across the Canterbury Plains to join your group for a night in Queenstown.

Wild West South Island Adventure Tour

Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu at night

Wild West South Island Adventure Tour

Boundary Creek

Wild West South Island Adventure Tour

Fox Glacier helihike

Wild West South Island Adventure Tour

Cycling along the West Coast

Wild West South Island Adventure Tour

Setting up camp

Wild West South Island Adventure Tour

Around Punakaiki

Wild West South Island Adventure Tour

Golden Abel Tasman National Park beach

Wild West South Island Adventure Tour

Kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park

Itinerary

Open All
Day 1Queenstown to Boundary CreekB,D

Leaving at 2:30pm, after the thrills and spills of Queenstown we wind down with a beautiful campsite beside the tranquil lake with spectacular views of Mount Aspiring National Park.

Boundary Creek is located on the shores of Lake Wanaka, just north of Queenstown. Surrounded by the mountains of Mt Aspiring Naitonal Park, this wilderness camp is refreshing change from the fast pace of Queenstown. The crystal clear waters reflect the snow capped peaks year round and it's the perfect place to absorb the beauty of another incredible National Park.

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
Bike Rides: You can make the most of the Queenstown bike trails before we leave at 2.30pm and you can ride into camp later in the day along the edge of Lake Wanaka
Walks and Hikes: Lakefront walks or other walks you may have missed yesterday when doing activities.
Optional Activities: Bungy jumping, canyon swing, skydiving, boat cruise plus much more!
Available Upgrades: No - beautiful lakeside camp with National park views
Drive Distance: Approx. 2.5 hours

Day 2Boundary Creek to Fox GlacierB,L,D

Today we're heading to the wild west coast! Today is a substantial drive but the scenery we'll be travelling through is quite dramatic plus we'll be making stops along the way for walks, views, waterfalls, coastline and a couple of bike options! We start the day tracing the northern edge of Mt Aspiring National park crossing the Haast pass and the gateway to the Westland region before meeting the Tasman Sea. From here we travel north to the small township of Fox Glacier along the start of a road that has been voted one of the top 10 coastal journeys in the world!

The wild "West Coast" refers to the beautiful and diverse area lodged between the Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea. This area is home to arguably the most dramatic scenery in New Zealand and the the least number of people - a perfect combination for our tours. The region is dotted with towering mountain peaks, glaciers, lakes, thundering rivers and rain forest. The national parks in this region have been designated as World Heritage Areas to help keep this area of supreme natural beauty intact. Residents of the region are known as "coasters" and known for their genuine friendliness.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Bike Rides: The first of two options today is a downhill ride from the top of the Haast pass and finishing up at the mighty Thunder Creek Falls. Later that day you have an option of long ride into Fox Glaicer Township or ride roughly half the distance for a shorter ride
Walks and Hikes: There are quite a number of short walks today as we make frequent stops on this epic journey to the West Coast
Available Upgrades: Yes
Drive Distance: Approx. 3 hours

Day 3Fox Glacier to OkaritoB,L,D

Today is your chance to explore one of NZ’s most unique and spectacular natural wonders - Fox Glacier. This staggering beautiful work of nature is over 13 kilometres in length and plummets 2,600 metres from its peak in the Southern Alps. It is fed by four alpine glaciers that receive approximately 30 metres of snowfall each year. This snow compacts at the top to produce the wonderful blue ice hundreds of metres deep. To get on the ice you have to take a guided trip by helicopter!

If you're not keen for a Heli hike it is still possible to see the glacier. From camp follow a walking track through beautiful native fern forests before the huge valley that holds the glacier opens up in front of you. Follow the walking track up the valley and you'll get to an impressive viewpoint where you can see the terminal face of this epic glacier!

Later that day we'll be heading down to Lake Matheson that has a nice, easy walking trail and, if conditions permit, the view of the southern alps gets reflected by the still waters of the lake.

We'll leave Fox Glacier mid afternoon and head towards our camp in a small town called Okarito. This has become a favourite on the tour as the tranquil little town is right on the coast and view across the Tasman sea are often accompanied by awesome sunsets. Okarito is also famous for its bird life and remains one of New Zealand's largest unmodified wetlands reserves! It is also possible to see other birds in the surrounding woodlands such as the rarest species of kiwi, the Rowi, that only lives in the small area that surrounds this quiet little settlement.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Bike Rides: Ride along the walk/cycleway to the Glacier viewpoint and then ride to Lake Matheson later in the day. There is also a beautiful ride on the quiet road that leads to Okarito
Walks and Hikes: If you're not hiking on the ice then definitely head up to the terminal face viewpoint and then in the afternoon a walk around Lake Matheson is a must do!
Optional Activities: Guided heli-hike, Terminal Facewalk
Available Upgrades: Yes (limited options)
Drive Distance: Approx. 2.5 hours

Day 4Okarito to PunakaikiB,D

If you're feeling up to it then you can head out on an early morning walk to watch the sunrise before we continue up this spectacular coastal stretch to Hokitika – home to the Greenstone factories where you can see these skilled craftsmen at work and a great place for a traditional souvenir of your visit. We travel on through pristine native forest to Paparoa National Park where giant columns of water shoot skywards at Pancake Rocks! This beach camp has great sunsets, a beautiful river and incredible views of Paparoa National Park. The pancake rocks and blowholes are the main attraction in Punakaiki where limestones rocks are stacked on top of each other and ocean swells are forced through gaps in the rock creating a whale’s blowhole effect. In the evening we can relax at the local tavern and explore a cavern with some glow worms hanging out in the dark.

Hokitika and the surrounding area is a traditional source of greenstone (pounamu) - several stores and outlets offer a variety of jewellery and other items in this thriving arts and crafts scene. Paparoa National Park is home to a plethora of luxuriant coastal forests, limestone cliffs, canyons, caves and underground streams, and an absolutely spectacular coastline, all packed into one national park.

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
Bike Rides: Road ride on a stretch of highway that has been voted one of the most scenic roads in the world! Expect some hills but extensive views of coastline, totally rewarding!
Walks and Hikes: If you're up for an early start then head out to the okarito trig for fantastic views of the Southern Alps as the sun comes up. Once we reach Punakaiki there are a number of different trails you can explore to get the best out of our visit to Paparoa National Park
Optional Activities: Punakaiki pancake rocks & blow holes (free!), Paddleboarding, River canoeing
Available Upgrades: Yes (limited)
Drive Distance: Approx. 3.5 hours

Day 5Punakaiki to Abel Tasman National ParkB,D

Leaving Punakaiki mid-morning we make our way inland through the majestic Buller Gorge to one of our favourite National Parks, Abel Tasman. In one of the sunniest areas of the country you will discover beautiful secluded bays and stunning golden sands. There are all kinds of options to experience the park but on the day we arrive it's all about getting a birds eye view by skydiving over the area. If you're not keen for this adrenaline activity we'll take you to camp and you can explore from there. Our campsite is located near the entrance to the park and we will be staying here for 3 nights to give you every chance to explore all corners of the park.

New Zealand has a range of fantastic national parks but this is our favourite - maybe it's because this little gem lies on the doorstep of Flying Kiwi HQ but mainly it's due to the the golden sandy beaches, twisting rocky outcrops, turquoise clear waters and beautiful hidden bays. The park is also home to a range of life from dolphins and orcas to tuis and bellbirds. Whether from the ground, water or air the Abel Tasman never fails to disappoint aspiring photographers looking for the perfect beach shot!

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
Bike Rides: Trail, biking past a local beer brewer, local fruit and vegetable roadside stands, a hill to get those legs pumping, a brilliant mountain bike park and views of golden sand and invitingly warm waters, what more can you ask for?! 
Walks and Hikes: Enjoy an afternoon or evening walk into Abel Tasman National Park from camp (yes that rights, it’s on your backdoor step).
Optional Activities: Skydiving
Available Upgrades: Yes
Drive Distance: Approx. 5 hours

 

Day 6Abel Tasman National ParkB,L

Taking time to explore arguably the best beaches and clearest waters in New Zealand - there are excellent options for everyone here.

You can walk, sail or kayak around the numerous golden bays and dive into the crystal-clear waters along the way. There will be plenty of chances for wildlife spotting (dolphins, seals and even Orcas!) Explore the heart of the park on one of our most highly rated optional activities - canyoning high flow waterfalls and rapids! Tonight, we’ll be eating at a local hang out, The Fat Tui (own cost).

walks: Abel Tasman National Park track
bike rides: Kaiteriteri bike park
activities (own cost): Single & multi-day kayaking options, canyoning, sailing, horse-riding, water-taxi / walk, conservation tour, conservation projects (free)
cabin upgrades: yes
meals: breakfast & lunch

Day 7Abel Tasman National ParkB,D

We spend another full day at the doorstep to New Zealand’s smallest, but most visited national park and our personal favourite, the Abel Tasman.
walks: Abel Tasman National Park track
bike rides: Kaiteriteri bike park
activities (own cost): kayaking, canyoning, water taxi / walk, sailing, horse-riding, conservation tour
cabin upgrades: yes
meals: breakfast & dinner

Day 8Abel Tasman National Park to PictonB

Today we head through sunny Nelson on our way to Picton. In addition to being one of the sunniest areas of NZ Nelson is home to more than 350 working artists and craftspeople creating traditional, contemporary and Maori arts. If finishing your tour in Nelson you will leave us on arrival by 11am.

After a short stopover we leave Nelson for wine country – Marlborough, home to some of the World’s best known grapes and we will be treating you to a free tasting in one of their best vineyards. On route to the winery we’ll make a stop Pelorus bridge, a Hobbit film location and great place for a quick dip on a warm day. If finishing your tour in Picton you will leave us by 5pm.

Meals: Breakfast
Bike Rides: 14-16km off road and road cycling
Walks and Hikes: Walk to the geographical centre of New Zealand
Drive Distance: Approx. 3.5 hours

COST PER PERSON

Oct 2019 - Apr 2020

  • JULY SALE: Departing Christchurch (9 days): NZ$1,512
  • JULY SALE: Departing Queenstown (8 days): NZ$1,348
  • Departing Christchurch (9 days): NZ$1,890
  • Departing Queenstown (8 days): NZ$1,685

OPTIONS

  • Bike Hire: NZ$180
  • Bike (bring your own): NZ$80
  • Single Tent Upgrade: NZ$95
  • Sleeping Bag Hire: NZ$65

Itinerary

Open All
Day 1Queenstown to Boundary CreekB,D

Leaving at 2:30pm, after the thrills and spills of Queenstown we wind down with a beautiful campsite beside the tranquil lake with spectacular views of Mount Aspiring National Park.

Boundary Creek is located on the shores of Lake Wanaka, just north of Queenstown. Surrounded by the mountains of Mt Aspiring Naitonal Park, this wilderness camp is refreshing change from the fast pace of Queenstown. The crystal clear waters reflect the snow capped peaks year round and it's the perfect place to absorb the beauty of another incredible National Park.

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
Bike Rides: You can make the most of the Queenstown bike trails before we leave at 2.30pm and you can ride into camp later in the day along the edge of Lake Wanaka
Walks and Hikes: Lakefront walks or other walks you may have missed yesterday when doing activities.
Optional Activities: Bungy jumping, canyon swing, skydiving, boat cruise plus much more!
Available Upgrades: No - beautiful lakeside camp with National park views
Drive Distance: Approx. 2.5 hours

Day 2Boundary Creek to Fox GlacierB,L,D

Today we're heading to the wild west coast! Today is a substantial drive but the scenery we'll be travelling through is quite dramatic plus we'll be making stops along the way for walks, views, waterfalls, coastline and a couple of bike options! We start the day tracing the northern edge of Mt Aspiring National park crossing the Haast pass and the gateway to the Westland region before meeting the Tasman Sea. From here we travel north to the small township of Fox Glacier along the start of a road that has been voted one of the top 10 coastal journeys in the world!

The wild "West Coast" refers to the beautiful and diverse area lodged between the Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea. This area is home to arguably the most dramatic scenery in New Zealand and the the least number of people - a perfect combination for our tours. The region is dotted with towering mountain peaks, glaciers, lakes, thundering rivers and rain forest. The national parks in this region have been designated as World Heritage Areas to help keep this area of supreme natural beauty intact. Residents of the region are known as "coasters" and known for their genuine friendliness.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Bike Rides: The first of two options today is a downhill ride from the top of the Haast pass and finishing up at the mighty Thunder Creek Falls. Later that day you have an option of long ride into Fox Glaicer Township or ride roughly half the distance for a shorter ride
Walks and Hikes: There are quite a number of short walks today as we make frequent stops on this epic journey to the West Coast
Available Upgrades: Yes
Drive Distance: Approx. 3 hours

Day 3Fox Glacier to OkaritoB,L,D

Today is your chance to explore one of NZ’s most unique and spectacular natural wonders - Fox Glacier. This staggering beautiful work of nature is over 13 kilometres in length and plummets 2,600 metres from its peak in the Southern Alps. It is fed by four alpine glaciers that receive approximately 30 metres of snowfall each year. This snow compacts at the top to produce the wonderful blue ice hundreds of metres deep. To get on the ice you have to take a guided trip by helicopter!

If you're not keen for a Heli hike it is still possible to see the glacier. From camp follow a walking track through beautiful native fern forests before the huge valley that holds the glacier opens up in front of you. Follow the walking track up the valley and you'll get to an impressive viewpoint where you can see the terminal face of this epic glacier!

Later that day we'll be heading down to Lake Matheson that has a nice, easy walking trail and, if conditions permit, the view of the southern alps gets reflected by the still waters of the lake.

We'll leave Fox Glacier mid afternoon and head towards our camp in a small town called Okarito. This has become a favourite on the tour as the tranquil little town is right on the coast and view across the Tasman sea are often accompanied by awesome sunsets. Okarito is also famous for its bird life and remains one of New Zealand's largest unmodified wetlands reserves! It is also possible to see other birds in the surrounding woodlands such as the rarest species of kiwi, the Rowi, that only lives in the small area that surrounds this quiet little settlement.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Bike Rides: Ride along the walk/cycleway to the Glacier viewpoint and then ride to Lake Matheson later in the day. There is also a beautiful ride on the quiet road that leads to Okarito
Walks and Hikes: If you're not hiking on the ice then definitely head up to the terminal face viewpoint and then in the afternoon a walk around Lake Matheson is a must do!
Optional Activities: Guided heli-hike, Terminal Facewalk
Available Upgrades: Yes (limited options)
Drive Distance: Approx. 2.5 hours

Day 4Okarito to PunakaikiB,D

If you're feeling up to it then you can head out on an early morning walk to watch the sunrise before we continue up this spectacular coastal stretch to Hokitika – home to the Greenstone factories where you can see these skilled craftsmen at work and a great place for a traditional souvenir of your visit. We travel on through pristine native forest to Paparoa National Park where giant columns of water shoot skywards at Pancake Rocks! This beach camp has great sunsets, a beautiful river and incredible views of Paparoa National Park. The pancake rocks and blowholes are the main attraction in Punakaiki where limestones rocks are stacked on top of each other and ocean swells are forced through gaps in the rock creating a whale’s blowhole effect. In the evening we can relax at the local tavern and explore a cavern with some glow worms hanging out in the dark.

Hokitika and the surrounding area is a traditional source of greenstone (pounamu) - several stores and outlets offer a variety of jewellery and other items in this thriving arts and crafts scene. Paparoa National Park is home to a plethora of luxuriant coastal forests, limestone cliffs, canyons, caves and underground streams, and an absolutely spectacular coastline, all packed into one national park.

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
Bike Rides: Road ride on a stretch of highway that has been voted one of the most scenic roads in the world! Expect some hills but extensive views of coastline, totally rewarding!
Walks and Hikes: If you're up for an early start then head out to the okarito trig for fantastic views of the Southern Alps as the sun comes up. Once we reach Punakaiki there are a number of different trails you can explore to get the best out of our visit to Paparoa National Park
Optional Activities: Punakaiki pancake rocks & blow holes (free!), Paddleboarding, River canoeing
Available Upgrades: Yes (limited)
Drive Distance: Approx. 3.5 hours

Day 5Punakaiki to Abel Tasman National ParkB,D

Leaving Punakaiki mid-morning we make our way inland through the majestic Buller Gorge to one of our favourite National Parks, Abel Tasman. In one of the sunniest areas of the country you will discover beautiful secluded bays and stunning golden sands. There are all kinds of options to experience the park but on the day we arrive it's all about getting a birds eye view by skydiving over the area. If you're not keen for this adrenaline activity we'll take you to camp and you can explore from there. Our campsite is located near the entrance to the park and we will be staying here for 3 nights to give you every chance to explore all corners of the park.

New Zealand has a range of fantastic national parks but this is our favourite - maybe it's because this little gem lies on the doorstep of Flying Kiwi HQ but mainly it's due to the the golden sandy beaches, twisting rocky outcrops, turquoise clear waters and beautiful hidden bays. The park is also home to a range of life from dolphins and orcas to tuis and bellbirds. Whether from the ground, water or air the Abel Tasman never fails to disappoint aspiring photographers looking for the perfect beach shot!

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
Bike Rides: Trail, biking past a local beer brewer, local fruit and vegetable roadside stands, a hill to get those legs pumping, a brilliant mountain bike park and views of golden sand and invitingly warm waters, what more can you ask for?! 
Walks and Hikes: Enjoy an afternoon or evening walk into Abel Tasman National Park from camp (yes that rights, it’s on your backdoor step).
Optional Activities: Skydiving
Available Upgrades: Yes
Drive Distance: Approx. 5 hours

 

Day 6Abel Tasman National ParkB,L

Taking time to explore arguably the best beaches and clearest waters in New Zealand - there are excellent options for everyone here.

You can walk, sail or kayak around the numerous golden bays and dive into the crystal-clear waters along the way. There will be plenty of chances for wildlife spotting (dolphins, seals and even Orcas!) Explore the heart of the park on one of our most highly rated optional activities - canyoning high flow waterfalls and rapids! Tonight, we’ll be eating at a local hang out, The Fat Tui (own cost).

walks: Abel Tasman National Park track
bike rides: Kaiteriteri bike park
activities (own cost): Single & multi-day kayaking options, canyoning, sailing, horse-riding, water-taxi / walk, conservation tour, conservation projects (free)
cabin upgrades: yes
meals: breakfast & lunch

Day 7Abel Tasman National ParkB,D

We spend another full day at the doorstep to New Zealand’s smallest, but most visited national park and our personal favourite, the Abel Tasman.
walks: Abel Tasman National Park track
bike rides: Kaiteriteri bike park
activities (own cost): kayaking, canyoning, water taxi / walk, sailing, horse-riding, conservation tour
cabin upgrades: yes
meals: breakfast & dinner

Day 8Abel Tasman National Park to PictonB

Today we head through sunny Nelson on our way to Picton. In addition to being one of the sunniest areas of NZ Nelson is home to more than 350 working artists and craftspeople creating traditional, contemporary and Maori arts. If finishing your tour in Nelson you will leave us on arrival by 11am.

After a short stopover we leave Nelson for wine country – Marlborough, home to some of the World’s best known grapes and we will be treating you to a free tasting in one of their best vineyards. On route to the winery we’ll make a stop Pelorus bridge, a Hobbit film location and great place for a quick dip on a warm day. If finishing your tour in Picton you will leave us by 5pm.

Meals: Breakfast
Bike Rides: 14-16km off road and road cycling
Walks and Hikes: Walk to the geographical centre of New Zealand
Drive Distance: Approx. 3.5 hours

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