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.

£1 deposit on trips

Offer applies to trips departing in 2022.

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 9am 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. Take a dip in natural hot pools surrounded by greenery as the snow dusted peaks of the Southern Alps look on. Next up, travel to Reefton, a tiny town that punches above its size. Swing by the Reefton Distillery Co. to learn the story behind their local botanical gins, fruit liqueurs, vodka and whisky, then try some of the locally crafted products yourself at their tasting bar. Finally, drive on to the town of Westport and perhaps round off the day with group dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Reefton - Distillery visit
Optional Activities
  • Lewis Pass - Maruia Hot Springs - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting 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 from the historic mining settlement of Denniston. Take in views of the Karamea Bight and mouth of the Waimangaroa River as you follow a path forged by miners more than a hundred years ago – 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
  • Reefton - Miners Hut visit
  • Reefton - Gold Panning Experience
  • Tauranga Bay - Fur Seal Colony
  • Denniston - Charming Creek Walk
  • Westport - Cape Foulwind Walkway & Lighthouse
  • Westport - Seal Colony at Tauranga Bay
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Travel to Punakaiki this morning, 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
  • Karamea - Charming Creek Walkway (unguided)
  • Denniston - Heritage Walk (guided)
  • Punakaiki - Pancake Rocks & Blowholes Walk
  • Kumara - Glow Worm Cave Visit
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. Join a local guide for a 2-hour kayaking adventure across the still waters of the lagoon with the backdrop of the Southern Alps, learning about the plants, wildlife and history of the region as you paddle. 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. While in Franz Josef, you’ll also have the chance to visit a pounamu (greenstone) workshop and learn how to carve your own original piece. 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
  • Greymouth - Brunner Coal Mine
  • Franz Josef Glacier - Hot Pools
  • Hokitika - Gorge Visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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 afternoon is yours to make the most of what this amazing slice of the country has to offer. You may like to 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 lowkey afternoon – have a chat to your guide about your options for the day.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Fox Glacier - Lake Matheson Walk
Optional Activities
  • Franz Josef Glacier - Glacier Heli Hike - from - NZD485
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.
Leave Fox Glacier behind and 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
  • Okarito - Okarito Lagoon Walk
  • Hokitika - Historical 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, at which point your West Coast adventure will come to an end.
Included Activities
  • Hokitika - Hokitika Gorge
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

6 breakfasts

Transport

Private vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (5 nights), Motel (1 night)

Included activities

  • Reefton - Distillery visit
  • Reefton - Miners Hut visit
  • Reefton - Gold Panning Experience
  • Tauranga Bay - Fur Seal Colony
  • Denniston - Charming Creek Walk
  • Westport - Cape Foulwind Walkway & Lighthouse
  • Westport - Seal Colony at Tauranga Bay
  • Karamea - Charming Creek Walkway (unguided)
  • Denniston - Heritage Walk (guided)
  • Punakaiki - Pancake Rocks & Blowholes Walk
  • Kumara - Glow Worm Cave Visit
  • Greymouth - Brunner Coal Mine
  • Franz Josef Glacier - Hot Pools
  • Hokitika - Gorge Visit
  • Fox Glacier - Lake Matheson Walk
  • Okarito - Okarito Lagoon Walk
  • Hokitika - Historical Walk
  • Hokitika - Hokitika Gorge

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.

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Important notes

All travellers on Intrepid trips (outside Australia, New Zealand and the Cook Islands) are required to produce proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. From 1 December 2021, all travellers on Intrepid trips, including in Australia, New Zealand and the Cook Islands, 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 9am 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

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