Wild West South Island Tour - Overview
The drive along the West Coast of the South Island has been voted one of the top 10 drives in the World by Lonely Planet and it’s not hard to see why!.
Forests taking on a prehistoric appearance, limestone formations, subtropical and earthy surroundings like a setting in Lord of the Rings, rugged coastlines, crystal clear lakes, striking glaciers, towering mountains, and contrasting gold sand beaches. Try heli hiking on one of the world’s most accessible glaciers, be amazed by the Pancake Rock formations, reflecting lakes and water so pure you can even see trout. - It’s all here!
The wild weather the West Coast is known for, has contributed to shaping the land and it’s people over time. This coastline provides dramatic contrasts for you to drive, bike or hike through. Have your camera at the ready!
The West Coast is full of interesting people and history. From the Gold Rush period, decades of coal mining and Maori tales of the hunt for Pounamu (green stone) - there is interest for all.
We leave the West Coast and head to the stunning Abel Tasman National Park where you can mix beach and bush to your hearts content. Plenty of hiking, kayaking, sailing, seals, conservation and adrenaline junkie pursuits (skydiving, hang gliding, canyoning) that will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Oh and if you love sunsets - the Wild West trip will at some stage present you with magnificent sunsets from our campsites. A truly special place in New Zealand where locals (affectionately known as “coasters”) are welcoming and areas are not overpopulated. These well hardy folk with pioneering values that are as strong today as they were when they settled the Coast over 100 years ago.
If you enjoy nature, you will love the Wild West tour.
You can start this trip in Queenstown or Christchurch. The public bus service from Christchurch to Queenstown runs daily (excluding Christmas day) so if you would like to have a few days to explore Queenstown before the tour departs, that’s entirely possible and actually recommended!
We want to work in with your plans, and we know that many travellers arrive into the South Island via Christchurch so we have devised two starting options for this tour.
- Starting from Queenstown: (8 days). This is our traditional tour - we highly recommend that you spend a few days in Queenstown before your departure and experience all the thrills and spills that this epic adventure capital has to offer!
- Starting from Christchurch: (9 days). You can also start a day earlier from Christchurch and head across the wonderful Canterbury plains before joining the group for a night in Queenstown.
Customise Your Trip: Like all of our tours, It is also possible to travel on a ‘set part’ of any of our routes - maybe you want to start in Queenstown but finish a little earlier in Punakaiki and have a little R&R time? Just drop us a line and talk to our crew in the office about how we can create the perfect trip for you.
If you have a few days before or after your trip why not extend it with one of these great trips:
- Hot Rocks Tour - The full North Island loop (starting and finishing at any point in the North Island) includes the thermal wonders of New Zealand's volcanic region, the Bay of Islands, the superb Coromandel and the World's great one day walk - The Tongariro Crossing.
- Northern Express Tour - Take the short northward journey from Wellington to Auckland and enjoy the unique Waitomo caves on the way.
- Southern Light Tour - This tour will pick you up from where you finish up in Picton and take you back down the east coast of the South Island, wrapping things up either in Christchurch or Queenstown!
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE WILD WEST TOUR:
To maximise your experience we have included a range of activities which we think will show off the very best of this stunning region. Here are just a few of the things that you will find included in your Wild West Tour:
- Accommodation: Pitch your tent next to a lake, ocean or forest. Included in the tour price is shared tent accommodation, you can upgrade to a single tent for a small cost.
- Food: Most meals are included as outlined in our detailed itinerary. If you have a special dietary requirement, no problem we cater to most dietary needs.
- Wine Tasting: The Marlborough region is known for its wines, especially the Sauvignon Blanc which is internationally recognised for their beautiful crisp flavour and distinctive summer citrus aromas. The drinks are on us in our specially arranged wine tasting experience;
- Sports Equipment: Depending on the bus you will various sport equipment on board for you to use at any stage.
- Hikes: Each day we have great walks lined up for those interested ranging from 10mins to hours in length.
- Bike Rides: If you have hired one of our bikes then our guides will point you in the direction of incredible daily rides.
Kiwis are a generous bunch and lots of museums and attractions are free of charge, as well as all access to National Parks. We take in many of these on the Wild West Tour including glow worm walks, Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Hokitika greenstone factory, access to National Parks (Mt Aspiring, Paparoa, Abel Tasman), amazing sunrises and sunsets at beautiful beachside campsites, and more
Our bike rides page and the hiking pages give you lots more detail into the rides and hikes our guides will show you along the way.
Our activities page above gives more detail on many of the free and optional activities that you might choose to do on your Wild West Tour and how it all works while on tour.
IMPORTANT THINGS WE WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT THE WILD WEST TOUR:
What happens if i want to start my trip in Christchurch?
We use a shuttle service from Christchurch to Queenstown that runs every day (excluding Christmas day). You will then join your Flying Kiwi group in Queenstown. This provides great flexibility with the added option of spending a few days in Queenstown before your tour kicks off. We can help arrange all elements including accommodation and advice on activities.
Bush camps are part of our charm and are designed to get you away from the crowds and experiencing nature at its best. You will stay at two bush camps during the Wild West tour which have been especially selected for their amazing scenery. Due to their remote locations there are no cabin upgrade options and they also come with only basic toilet facilities but don’t worry a hot shower is just around the corner.
For more useful information visit our 'how it works' page here.