Map of New Zealand West Coast Adventure including New Zealand

Cross the Southern Alps into rugged, untamed coastal territory

Explore the narrow strip of South Island land sandwiched between the mountains and the Tasman Sea that’s home to some of the country’s most beautiful places. Millions of years of natural history are right in front of you in wild limestone rock formations, powerful glaciers, rushing rivers and surf pounded coast, while the much more recent stories of the gold and coal rush can be found in the heritage settlements and in the resolute spirit of the coasters. Take in highlights from Christchurch to Queenstown, Pancake Rocks to craft gin, kayaking to spa soaking. This is a coastal road trip to rival any other.

Cyber Sale: Up to 25% off 2022 trips

Our biggest sale of the year is now on! Up to 25% off trips. Valid on trips departing 1 Dec 21 - 14 Dec 22. Book now to save big.

Terms & Conditions

Start
Christchurch, New Zealand
Finish
Queenstown, New Zealand
Destination
New Zealand
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
PHSW
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • 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.

  • Experience some of New Zealand’s most stunning scenery on a kayaking adventure on Okarito Lagoon as an expert guide teaches you about local plants, wildlife and history.

  • Go deeper into the history of the area with stories of the goldrush days during visits to Kumara, Denniston and Arrowtown.

  • Take in the magic of the spectacular Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier regions during dips in hot pools weaving through rainforests and a walk around the 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.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 May 2022 to 30 Apr 2023.
View the 2021 itinerary
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 Maruia 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. Take a town walking tour with a local story-teller, learning about it's gold mining past. Step back in time as tea is prepared for you on the forge. Manuka leaf is introduced into the billy to produce a rich and sweet black tea which will be served with scones with manuka honey. Finally, drive on to the town of Westport and perhaps round off the day with group dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Reefton - Town Tour with Billy Tea, Scones & Honey
  • Reefton - Miners Hut visit
  • Reefton - Gold Panning Experience
Optional Activities
  • Lewis Pass - Maruia Hot Springs - NZD45
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting this morning as we will be checking insurance and emergency contact details at this time. If you are going to be late, please let an Intrepid representative or your travel agent know. Find details of the meeting point in your Essential Trip Information.
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! Then it’s time to stretch your legs with a walk through the historic mining settlement of Denniston – your leader will be able to give you an idea of what life once looked like for the miners and their families. Return to Westport for an evening at leisure.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tauranga Bay - Fur Seal Colony
  • Westport - Cape Foulwind Walkway & Lighthouse
  • Westport - Seal Colony at Tauranga Bay
  • Denniston - Heritage Village Walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Travel 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!).
Accommodation
  • Motel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Punakaiki - Pancake Rocks & Blowholes Walk
  • Kumara - Glow Worm Cave Visit
  • Charleston - Nile River Gorge Rainforest Train Ride
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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 (Kā Tiritiri o te Moana) across extensive native forest to the lagoons and beaches of the coast. An optional activity here is to take an optional guided kayak trip across its still waters. Continue your journey south towards Franz Josef and pay a visit to the glacier hot pools, where you’ll enjoy some time to relax and unwind while tucked away among gorgeous rainforest. Later in the day, travel to the Fox Glacier township, your gateway to the dramatic and enormous Fox Glacier and your base for the evening.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Franz Josef Glacier - Hot Pools
  • Hokitika - Gorge Visit
  • Okarito - Okarito Lagoon Walk
Optional Activities
  • Okarito - Okarito Lagoon Kayaking Excursion - NZD110
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Please note that the walk and the optional kayaking at the Okarito Lagoon is weather dependent. In case of inclement weather an alternative activity will be suggested by the leader.
Today is yours to make the most of what this amazing slice of the country has to offer. 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Franz Josef Glacier - Glacier Heli Hike - from - NZD485
  • Fox Glacier - Glacier Heli Hike - from - NZD499
  • Fox Glacier - Shuttle Bus to Franz Josef Glacier - NZD40
  • Franz Josef Glacier - Pounamu Greenstone Carving Workshop - NZD75
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
It is recommended you book your helicopter ride or helihike option in advance as spots are limited. Our local operator will be happy to assist in making bookings for this activity. You can call them on +64 9 520 5593.
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! Then 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. Your last stop is for a 1-hour walk along the wonderful Blue Pools Track, passing through forests of beech and podocarp which surround sapphire-blue pools of glacial water. Arrive in Wanaka and enjoy an evening at leisure.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Fox Glacier - Lake Matheson Walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Depart Wanaka this morning and drive through the magnificent scenery of the Crown Range. Make a stop in the historic goldrush town of Arrowtown and let your leader fill you in on its history as you wander the charming treelined streets. Arrive in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world, in the early afternoon (approximately 12:30pm), at which point your West Coast adventure will come to an end.
Included Activities
  • Arrowtown - Leader-led Walking Tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Your trip comes to an end upon arrival in Queenstown at around 12:30pm. Please take this into consideration when booking onward travel.

Meals

6 breakfasts

Transport

Private vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (5 nights), Motel (1 night)

Included activities

  • Reefton - Town Tour with Billy Tea, Scones & Honey
  • Reefton - Miners Hut visit
  • Reefton - Gold Panning Experience
  • Tauranga Bay - Fur Seal Colony
  • Westport - Cape Foulwind Walkway & Lighthouse
  • Westport - Seal Colony at Tauranga Bay
  • Denniston - Heritage Village Walk
  • Punakaiki - Pancake Rocks & Blowholes Walk
  • Kumara - Glow Worm Cave Visit
  • Charleston - Nile River Gorge Rainforest Train Ride
  • Franz Josef Glacier - Hot Pools
  • Hokitika - Gorge Visit
  • Okarito - Okarito Lagoon Walk
  • Fox Glacier - Lake Matheson Walk
  • Arrowtown - Leader-led Walking Tour

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our New Zealand West Coast Adventure trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

Prices may go up, so secure your trip today!
Jump to a departure month

Important notes

Travellers on Intrepid trips are required to produce proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. Read details here.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
A single supplement is available to be booked on this trip, subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for more details.

START & END TIME
This trip starts at 8am in Christchurch on day 1 and finishes upon arrival in Queenstown on the last day at approximately 12:30pm.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View Essential Trip Information

Reviews