Map of Ultimate South Island: Hike & Bike including New Zealand

A New Zealand showcase of wild coastal and alpine beauty

Go beyond the usual suspects on New Zealand’s South Island as you spend eight days discovering alpine wilderness, coastal trails and crystal-clear waters. As you spend time travelling from Nelson to Christchurch via the west coast, experience two days hiking through the ethereal and unspoiled beauty of Abel Tasman National Park, take a self-guided cycle on the West Coast Wilderness Trail between Arahura River and Kumara, and head above the treeline in Arthur’s Pass to Edwards Hut. Learn of local Māori traditions and customs, paddling in a traditional waka (canoe), and have time to explore historic townships along the way. It’s not New Zealand without rugged mountaintops, pristine waters and spectacular winding roads, and you’ll hit all three and more with a local guide leading you each day.


Start
Nelson, New Zealand
Finish
Christchurch, New Zealand
Destination
New Zealand
Style
Basix
Theme
Active Adventures, Walking & Trekking
Code
PHXH
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 4, Max 11

Why you'll love this trip

  • Spend two days hiking through the pristine wilderness of Abel Tasman National Park. Walk along the coast track to Barks Bay and Anchorage, and swim in the crystal clear waters of Cleopatra’s Pool.

  • Learn of withstanding Māori customs, blessings and etiquette in Abel Tasman National Park. During a special waka (Māori canoe) experience, a local waka guide will fill you in on the area’s history and traditions.

  • Hike a spectacular limestone river canyon in Paparoa National Park, collecting wood for a fire in an overhang cave near your secluded campsite.

  • Cycle the West Coast Wilderness Trail on a self-guided biking experience between the Arahura River Bridge and historic Kumara. You will pedal past native forests, clear streams and panoramas just asking for a photo.

  • A trek up through Edwards Valley is all the more worth it when you peer on top of the treeline towards rugged mountain tops at Edwards Hut. Spend the night with fellow hikers in the heart of the Southern Alps.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Just as a heads up before you book: this trip is new to our range. And while we have thoroughly researched every detail of the logistics, new destinations can sometimes throw us some unexpected surprises. More often than not, it’ll be a great surprise. But every now and again there might be a hiccup. We like to think that’s what puts the ‘adventure’ in ‘adventure travel’.

  • This trip is a real adventure with Kiwi-style hiking and carrying your own belongings including a sleeping bag.

  • On these trips everyone lends a hand: whether it’s cooking over a campfire, collecting firewood or pitching a tent together. There’s nothing quite like wrestling a tent in the wind to get to know your fellow travellers.

  • No multi-day hiking experience is needed but you need to be a good walker and able to carry a backpack. And yes, occasionally you might just get your feet wet!

  • Please ensure you consult your local government’s advice regarding domestic and international travel prior to booking this trip.

Itinerary

Welcome to Nelson! You’ll meet your local guide and fellow travellers at Nelson i-SITE Visitor Information Centre this morning – check your booking for the exact time. From here, take a drive out of town hugging Te Tai-o-Aorere (or Tasman Bay) on your way to Kaiteriteri – the gateway to the stunning Abel Tasman National Park. Here, get all your gear packed for a two-night stay in the park as you board a water taxi to take you deep into the lush wilderness. Stop by an idyllic stretch of shore for a picnic lunch before starting the hike along the Abel Tasman Coastal Track south to Bark Bay. Your tents and some gear will have already been dropped at tonight’s location, so all you’ll need to carry are your essentials. Pitch your tent, enjoy an included group dinner and settle in to the sights and sounds of the park at night.
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s hiking distance is 13.5 kilometres. It will take around 4 hours.
After a relaxed breakfast, continue your hike on the coastal track to Anchorage. Highlights of today’s trek are walking through glades of native manuka, over a low saddle and across an impressive 47-metre suspension bridge at Falls River. You’ll also stop by Cleopatra’s Pool for a quick swim, and if you’re feeling up to it, take to boulder hopping to discover more pools and waterfalls up the valley. If time permits, your leader may take you to the Falls River cascades – perfect for another dip. After some solid hiking today, camp at the bush-fringed inlet of Anchorage, where there will be plenty of time to relax and go for a swim, before meeting up again with your group to cook and eat dinner together.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s hiking distance is 8.5–12 kilometres. It will take 4– 5 hours.
Swap your hiking boots for water shoes as you hit the water and discover Abel Tasman’s magical coastline by waka – a traditional Māori canoe. You’ll be part of a karakia (blessing) this morning and learn the etiquette of joining a waka team. Depending on conditions, paddle through several coves on the mainland and head to the wildlife refuge of Adele Island. Here, there’s a breeding colony of New Zealand fur seals to observe, who in the 1800s were almost hunted to extinction. During the day, your waka guide will give you an insight into local Māori history and customs of the region. Paddle onto the shores of Kaiteriteri Beach at around midday, where a guide will be waiting with your belongings. Enjoy a picnic lunch, stop for supplies at Motueka, and then hit the road south to your private campsite near Murchison, overlooking the junction of Buller and Maruia rivers. What’s more, your local hosts will be preparing a home-cooked organic meal for you and the travel crew!
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s paddling distance is 15 kilometres. It will take around 3 hours.
Jump back on the road and drive through the Buller Gorge to your first stop of the day – Charleston. Take a short hike through the coastal bush checking out headlands, wild waves and secluded bays of the west coast. Stop for a picnic lunch, and then get back hiking to the limestone river canyon in Paparoa National Park. This spectacular area was established in 1987 and covers more than 30,000 hectares in mountains, limestone cliffs, caves, rivers, wilderness and coastline. Your guide will be of great help today – there are some uneven, wet and slippery sections of track to navigate. Collect firewood on your way so your group can build a huge bonfire at your campsite under the Boomerang Overhang – a fluviatile cave. For those still feeling active, join your guide on another hike up a beautiful side canyon, following the stream into a cave. All meals are included today, so all you need to do is enjoy the incredible scenery.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s hiking distance is 8 kilometres. It will take 3–4 hours. Keep in mind that the first half of today’s trail is on a reasonably well-formed track and is relatively flat, while the second half involves multiple river crossings and sections where the riverbed itself is our route. Some boulders here can be slippery and good hiking shoes or boots are essential. Your guide will teach you how to cross rivers by linking arms.
Relax with breakfast and hike from your campsite back to your group vehicle, then drive down the west coast to Punakaiki. Here, you’ll see the renowned Pancake Rocks and seawater blowholes. Continue the drive south to tonight’s accommodation at Hokitika – a mining town which thrived in the gold rush of the 1870s, and is a great place to buy pounamu (greenstone), highly valued by early Māori for tools, jewellery and weapons. Tonight’s centrally-located lodge is a short distance to the beach, so you might like to grab some fish and chips with a couple of your fellow travellers or enjoy a meal out. Keep in mind that sometime today you’ll get fitted out with bikes for tomorrow’s ride.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
Today’s hiking distance is 6 kilometres. It will take around 3 hours.
Get your own breakfast in town before meeting back up with the group to begin today’s ride. You’ll be cycling the stunning West Coast Wilderness Trail between the Arahura River bridge and the historic township of Kumara. Make your way through native forest, across crystal streams and past old reservoirs and water races. You are your own guide today, but the trail is very well marked so you won’t get lost. On arrival in Kumara, celebrate with a drink at the restored Theatre Royal Hotel. Get back in your transport and enjoy the mountainous views as you take an approximately one-hour drive to Arthur’s Pass village where you’ll stay for the night. Your private hut lodging has all of the basic necessities like showers and electricity. Prepare dinner as a group and get ready for tomorrow’s overnight hiking adventure.
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s cycling distance is 39 kilometres. It will take 4–5 hours.
Arthur’s Pass may not have as much of the notoriety as some of New Zealand’s other national parks, but it is no less picturesque. Get ready for your overnight hike, taking you up the Edwards Valley to Edwards Hut. This hut sits just above the treeline and so will provide sweeping views of the alpine peaks and glacial rivers around. Depending on how busy the area is, you’ll either stay in the hut or camp nearby. As day turns to night, keep an ear out for New Zealand’s national bird – the kiwi. Roroa, or the great spotted kiwi, are known to inhabit this sub-alpine area.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s hiking distance is 7 kilometres. It will take around 5–6 hours. It is a challenging hike on a real ‘kiwi-style’ track. There are several river crossings and parts where you will need to use your hands for extra grip, as the trail is rugged with steep slippery sections. Most groups will have two guides for this hike.
Wake up in South Island wilderness this morning, as you retrace your steps back through the Edwards Valley. Return to your transport, unpack and refuel with a picnic lunch. As you set off driving to Christchurch today, you’ll notice how the scenery changes dramatically as you traverse the eastern side of the divide. Expect steep forested slopes to be replaced by wide rivers, scree slopes and limestone formations, just like Castle Hill. Stop by these landscapes for a quick photo then keep driving towards the South Island’s largest city – Christchurch – where you’ll arrive and bid farewell your group by around 5 pm. The trip finishes upon arrival in Christchurch, but that doesn’t mean your adventure has to end! If you would like to spend more time here, we’ll be able to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
Today’s hiking distance is 7 kilometres. It will take around 5–6 hours.

Meals

6 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 6 dinners

Transport

Boat, Waka Canoe, Bicycle, Private vehicle

Accommodation

Camping (4 nights), Lodge (1 night), Hut (1 night), Basic Hut (1 night).

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Ultimate South Island: Hike & Bike trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

1. This trip starts at 9:30am am in Nelson on day 1.
2. This trip finishes with a drop off at 5:30pm in Christchurch. Please do not book any flights until after 10pm this evening.
3. This trip is a real adventure with Kiwi-style hiking and carrying your own belongings.
4. You will be required to bring your own sleeping bag.
5. Bicycle hire is included on day 6 so we require all customers height at the time of booking.

Essential trip information

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