The Wild West Coast Tour
An unforgettable, personalised tour of an incredible part of New Zealand with your guide, Wayne Keenan.
This Wild West Tour takes you, as part of a small group (maximum of 10 people ), to the best of South Island’s stunning natural environment - the Southern Alps, Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers, Lake Brunner and Wanaka to the edges of the island at Cape Foulwind and Karamea. If you’re wanting a holiday with breath-taking scenery, loads of history and a good fun adventure – this is your tour!
We like to ensure this tour is left somewhat flexible, in case you’re keen to explore something else nearby, most trips include:
Meeting Wayne and leaving Christchurch (or another agreed departure point), and travelling across to Castle Hill Station. You may choose to walk into the limestone outcrops - the scenery is unique and spectacular. Then we head to Arthur’s Pass which includes the opportunity to walk on some alpine tracks. Back on the road we pass through Otira en route to Lake Brunner for our first overnight stay.
Highlights - Castle Hill - Arthur’s Pass - Otira - Lake Brunner
Blackball makes our first stop - historically famous as a gold and coal mining town. Nearby we explore the entrance to the Paparoa Track, Grey Valley and visit the Pike River Memorial before passing through Reefton. Discover the Waiuta Ghost Town before a drive through the extraordinary Buller Gorge. We then stop in Westport and if you’d like, take a walk out to Cape Foulwind. The coastal drive to Karamea is a bit of a show-stopper and it's here we’ll spend two nights chilling-out at the Last Resort.
Highlights - Blackball - Paparoa Track - Pike River Memorial - Reefton - Waiuta Area - Buller Gorge - Cape Foulwind - Karamea
Today is your day to explore. Wayne offers time at the Oparara Arches - the largest limestone caves in the Southern Hemisphere. Karamea is also the gateway to the Kahurangi National Park and you may choose to walk the entrance to the Heaphy Track. There is certainly plenty to explore and see.
Highlights - Oparara Arches - Kahurangi National Park - Heaphy Track entrance
Leaving Karamea, we set off to Punakaiki, spending time at some of the old mining townships such as Charleston and the incredible Denniston Plateau. The coastal highway is filled with magnificent views and sometimes we have the opportunity to stop and walk into the Fox river caves. Our destination is Punakaiki and our stop for the next 2 nights.
Highlights - Charleston - Denniston Plateau - Fox River
A day of excitement as we head off to see the Pancake Rocks ideally at high tide when the blowholes are performing at their best. Then there are a range of walks available - Truman’s Coast track, the Fox River Caves or Punakaiki and Pororari River Valley track - the choice is yours. And if the weather and conditions allow, we can take advantage of our 4 wheel-drive vehicle and follow old pack routes into remote West Coast back-country.
Highlights - Pancake Rocks - Truman’s Coast - Punakaiki - Pororari River - West Coast Back Country
Today we take the coastal highway, an absolute highlight, passing through Greymouth and Hokitika where we can stop for lunch, a touch of shopping and/or an explore of the townships. We then head inland to the Tree-Top walk and experience the glacial blue Hokitika Gorge. From here we travel to glacier country at Franz Josef for our next stay, in the rainforest!
Highlights - Greymouth - Hokitika - Franz Josef
Franz Josef Glacier is a must - you may like to join a flight onto the glacier, take a short walk or head to the hot pools - Wayne will wait! You’ll then visit Okarito Lagoon for an optional walk that offers the most spectacular Southern Alps views. There are loads of other walks to choose from and the wildlife centre at Franz Josef offers kiwi and tuatara viewings.
Highlights - Franz Josef Glacier - Okarito Lagoon
Today you’ll join Wayne for a drive through rainforest, farmland, forest parks and then a walk to see Lake Matheson,on a calm day a lovely mirror lake , before heading into the famous Haast World Heritage Area. We travel to the far corner of the West Coast , Jackson Bay , enjoy a cold refreshment on the beach and then tonight you’ll stay in Haast.
Highlights - Fox Glacier - Lake Matheson - Haast - Jacksons Bay
For our final day we head up the Haast Pass and on a good day, a view of the mighty Landsborough River as it joins the Haast. There are short walks available such as Thunder Creek Falls and Blue Pools. We then carry on through Mt Aspiring National Park, stop for a lakeside lunch at Wanaka and either (weather dependent) traversing the Crown Range for the views, back to Queenstown or taking the main route.
Highlights - Haast Pass - Thunder Creek Falls - Blue Pools - Mt Aspiring National Park - Wanaka
- 9 days transport via a comfortable 4 wheel-drive vehicle.
- An experienced driver and guide for the full 9 days. Please see Wayne’s bio.
- 8 night’s accommodation
- Meals throughout the journey - 7 dinners, 7 lunches and 8 breakfasts.
What’s not included:
- Your domestic travel to Christchurch, and from Queenstown. In some stances however, this can be arranged.
- Travel and personal insurances.
Tour dates coming up:
- March 7th - 15th 2022
- April 19th - 27th 2022
Frequently Asked Questions
What level of fitness do I need?
- No matter what your fitness level, you can choose the activity level you feel appropriate for you, but everyone who’s experienced this tour has the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors - and reviews say, they do!
What if I want to change some of the travel plans?
- Sometimes our travellers like to visit relatives while on the journey. The breaks at Franz Josef and Karamea do allow for you to meet others, or if we’re stopping for a walk nearby, Wayne can arrange that you spend your time differently. If you’re thinking you’d like to visit someplace that’s not listed in the itinerary, we can sometimes build this in. It’s worth having a chat to Wayne to see what’s possible.
How do we protect ourselves from Covid-19 while travelling
- Wayne is fully vaccinated and at your request is happy to wear a mask throughout the trip and while inside of a 2 metre distance from you. We would expect all travellers to also be fully vaccinated, and wear masks if required while in the vehicle. Please scan in to any places you visit and follow the safety guidelines, we’ve all come to know well.
What about cancellations or interruptions due to level changes?
- We do ask for a small non-refundable deposit to begin the booking process, however all other expenses are fully refundable if we did need to cancel. In most instances we would look to reschedule and will be in touch with you, if this arises. If in the event the level changes were imminent while we were travelling, we would look to get you quickly and safely back to a destination you could travel home from eg Queenstown or Christchurch.
Where do we stay?
- We’re happy to send you the full itinerary with these details and whereabouts you’ll be eating!
How do I book?
What’s the cost?
- From $3483 per person, twin share.
5 day Wild West Coast Tours also available
Canterbury and Central Otago Tours are currently under development.