Wild West South Island Tour

Wild West South Island Tour

  • Queenstown
  • Picton
  • 7 days
  • 4.8 / 5.0 (73 reviews)
  • from NZD$1,995.00

Main Highlights

  • NZ's best National Parks
  • World heritage site
  • NZ cycle trail
  • Glacier hikes
  • Queenstown
  • Abel Tasman
  • Kayaking
  • Glow-worm walks
  • Accommodation by coasts, mountains & lakes
  • Skydiving
  • Sailing
  • Hokitika
  • Pancake Rock
  • Blowholes
  • Jetboating
  • Excellent hikes.
  • ...and many more

Wild West South Island Tour - Overview:

Voted one of the top 10 drives in the World by Lonely Planet, the drive along the West Coast of the South Island has been is some of the best scenery you'll ever experience! A truly special place in New Zealand where locals (affectionately known as “coasters”) are welcoming and areas are not overpopulated.

You'll see forests taking on a prehistoric appearance, Lord of the Rings style views, rugged coastlines, crystal clear lakes, striking glaciers and contrasting gold sand beaches. It’s all here!

We'll take you up the rugged West Coast, past Franz Josef Glacier and on to the stunning Abel Tasman National Park where you can mix beach and bush to your hearts content. 

TOUR EXTENSIONS:

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.

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.

OTHER FREE INCLUSIONS:

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:
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.

  1. Our final morning in Queenstown and your last chance to indulge in the Queenstown’s action before we farewell those finishing their tour and welcome new travellers joining us here. Leaving at 2:30pm, after the thrills and spills of Queenstown we travel past mountains and on towards stunning glacial lakes. On the final stretch to camp we start getting views of Mt Aspiring National Park in the distance. Lake Wanaka is just over the next ridge and it’s on the edge of this glacial lake that we find our next wilderness camp. Enjoy great views of Lake Wanaka and the mountains beyond as we absorb the beauty of the area. 

     

    • Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
    • Bike Rides: You can make the most of the Queenstown bike trails before we leave at 2.30pm and you can ride into Lake Hawea village from camp
    • Walks and Hikes: Lakefront walks or other walks you may have missed yesterday when doing activities.
    • Optional Activities: Bungy jumping, canyon swing, skydiving, boat cruise plus much more!
    • Available Upgrades: Yes limited options
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 2 hours
  2. Enjoy a relaxed morning at our lakeside camp then it's northward bound through Mt Aspiring National Park. Just before we reach the West Coast, we stop for a walk to the amazing Blue Pools, and then head over the dramatic Haast Pass. As we travel towards the wild West Coast, the road follows braided rivers and huge glacier carved valleys. There are two more great walk options along the way, one through lush and ancient forests and the other through swampy vegetation, ending on the beach where it is possible to spot Hector dolphins. Tonight, we will be staying beside the beautiful Lake Paringa enjoying a true West Coast wilderness experience.  

    The wild "West Coast" refers to the beautiful and diverse area lodged between the Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea. This area is home to arguably the most dramatic scenery in New Zealand and the the least number of people - a perfect combination for our tours. The region is dotted with towering mountain peaks, glaciers, lakes, thundering rivers and rainforest. The national parks in this region have been designated as World Heritage Areas to help keep this area of supreme natural beauty intact. Residents of the region are known as "coasters" and known for their genuine friendliness. 

    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
    • Bike Rides: Later in the day you have an option of a long ride into camp from Knights Point lookout to Lake Paringa
    • Walks and Hikes: There are quite a number of short walks today as we make frequent stops on this epic journey to the West Coast
    • Available Upgrades: Yes limited options
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 3 hours
  3. Today is your chance to explore one of NZ’s most unique and spectacular natural wonders – Franz Josef Glacier.  This staggering beautiful work of nature is 12 kilometres and descends from the Southern Alps to less than 300 metres above sea level. To get on the ice you must go up by helicopter but it’s possible to view the glacier with a stunning walk through the main valley up to the terminal face. Before arriving at Franz Josef, we take a highly recommended walk around Lake Matheson where crystal clear reflections of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman make the perfect photo opportunity. Late afternoon, we have a short drive up the coast to our beautiful beachside campsite next to the Okarito lagoon – one of the very few places where there are still rare sightings of our native kiwi bird and the home to NZ’s only colony of the White Heron (kotuku). Enjoy a fire down on the beach taking in the rugged coast and epic mountain views.    

    • Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
    • Bike Rides: Ride along the walk/cycleway to the Glacier viewpoint. There is also a beautiful ride on the quiet road that leads to Okarito
    • Walks and Hikes: In the morning a walk around Lake Matheson is a must do! In the afternoon if you're not hiking on the ice then definitely head up to the terminal face viewpoint
    • Optional Activities: Guided heli-hike, skydiving, kayaking, West Coast wildlife centre
    • Available Upgrades: Yes limited options
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 2.5 hours
  4. Enjoy an early morning walk, with a view of the sunrise over the Southern Alps as a reward. We then continue up this spectacular coastal road to the quirky town of Hokitika, home to the Greenstone factories and a great place to pick up a traditional souvenir of your visit. Passing through Greymouth we keep following the coast to Punakaiki where you’ll notice a change in the landscape and vegetation with huge limestone cliffs appearing and Nikau Palm trees becoming abundant. Our beach camp has great sunsets, a beautiful river and incredible views of Paparoa National Park. The pancake rocks and blowholes are the main attraction in Punakaiki where limestone rocks are stacked on top of each other and ocean swells are forced through gaps in the rock creating a whale’s blowhole effect. In the evening, explore a cavern with some glow worms hanging out in the dark then relax at the local tavern.  

    • Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
    • Bike Rides: Road ride on a stretch of highway that has been voted one of the most scenic roads in the world! Expect some hills but extensive views of coastline, totally rewarding!
    • Walks and Hikes: If you're up for an early start then head out to the okarito trig for fantastic views of the Southern Alps as the sun comes up. Once we reach Punakaiki there are a number of different trails you can explore to get the best out of our visit to Paparoa Nati
    • Optional Activities: Punakaiki pancake rocks & blow holes (free!), Paddleboarding, River canoeing
    • Available Upgrades: Yes (limited)
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 3.5 hours
  5. Before leaving Punakaiki we take time to explore part of the Paparoa National Park with a walk along the Pororari river or cycle up Bullock creek road to visit a cave resurgence. Leaving mid-morning we travel inland through the majestic Buller gorge and onto our favourite National Park, Abel Tasman. In one of the sunniest areas of the country you will discover beautiful secluded bays and stunning golden sand beaches. We look forward to spending 2 nights at our perfectly located camp, close to the park entrance which makes it the ideal place to explore all corners of the stunning Abel Tasman. 

    • Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
    • Bike Rides: Trail, biking past a local beer brewer, local fruit and vegetable roadside stands, a hill to get those legs pumping, a brilliant mountain bike park and views of golden sand and invitingly warm waters, what more can you ask for?!
    • Walks and Hikes: Enjoy an afternoon or evening walk into Abel Tasman National Park from camp (yes that rights, it’s on your backdoor step).
    • Optional Activities: Skydiving
    • Available Upgrades: Yes
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 5 hours
  6. Taking time to explore arguably the best beaches and clearest waters in New Zealand - there are excellent options for everyone here. You can walk, sail or kayak around the numerous golden bays and dive into the crystal-clear waters along the way. There will be plenty of chances for wildlife spotting (dolphins, seals and even Orcas!) Explore the heart of the park on one of our most highly rated optional activities - canyoning high flow waterfalls and rapids!   

     

    • Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
    • Bike Rides: Kaiteriteri mountain bike park, cycle rides from camp if not on activities
    • Walks and Hikes: Exploring the Abel Tasman National Park - single & multi day walk options
    • Optional Activities: Multi day & single day kayaking options, canyoning, sailing, water taxi / walk, conservation projects (free), conservation tour
    • Available Upgrades: Yes
    • Drive Distance: No driving today
  7. Today we head to sunny Nelson. In addition to being one of the sunniest areas of NZ its home to more than 350 working artists and craftspeople creating traditional, contemporary and Maori arts + it's a wonderful place to live! Relax and enjoy the sunshine and café culture before we depart for wine country – Marlborough, home to some of the World’s best known grapes and where we’ll treat you to a free tasting in one of their best vineyards before your tour finishes in Picton.

    • Meals: Breakfast
    • Bike Rides: 14-16km off road and road cycling
    • Walks and Hikes: Walk to the geographical centre of New Zealand
    • Available Upgrades: n/a
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 3.5 hours

2023 TOUR PRICES:

Tour price departing Queenstown (7 days)

$1995

Single tent upgrade

 $110

Bike hire

$200

Bring your own bike

$100

Sleeping bag hire

$75

 

2023 DEPARTURES

MONTH

DEPARTURE DATE

FEBRUARY 2023

7TH & 23RD

MARCH 2023

11TH & 27TH

APRIL 2023

12TH

 

 

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Trip Reviews

  • Had the most amazing time it was a great way to see New Zealand. Thank you!

    , travelled Wild West South Island Tour on 15/11/2019

  • Really nice experience, travel with other people and sharing moments together.

    , travelled Wild West South Island Tour on 29/11/2019

  • Keep doing what you are doing, it is a fantastic experience delivered by people passionate about their country.

    , travelled Wild West South Island Tour on 01/03/2019

  • Honestly the best thing I have ever done, thank you so much. Genna and Charlene have been amazing and know so much, always happy to help. I've loved learning about the NZ culture and am very jealous of you all!

    , travelled Wild West South Island Tour on 01/03/2019

  • It was an unforgettable experience for me! I met many cool and friendly people. The tour was well organised and the staff were so friendly and helpful.

    , travelled Wild West South Island Tour on 01/02/2019

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