Wild West South Island Tour

Wild West South Island Tour

  • Christchurch or Queenstown
  • 8 or 9 days
  • Picton
  • from NZD$1,685.00
All Flying Kiwi New Zealand tour have guaranteed departures

Flying Kiwi Local's Tip

Frankie - Flying Kiwi Guide
"Get lost in the Abel Tasman National Park!"

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!


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.


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. Leaving at 2:30pm, after the thrills and spills of Queenstown we wind down with a beautiful campsite beside the tranquil lake with spectacular views of Mount Aspiring National Park.

    Boundary Creek is located on the shores of Lake Wanaka, just north of Queenstown. Surrounded by the mountains of Mt Aspiring Naitonal Park, this wilderness camp is refreshing change from the fast pace of Queenstown. The crystal clear waters reflect the snow capped peaks year round and it's the perfect place to absorb the beauty of another incredible National Park.

    • 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 camp later in the day along the edge of Lake Wanaka
    • 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: No - beautiful lakeside camp with National park views
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 2.5 hours
  2. Today we're heading to the wild west coast! Today is a substantial drive but the scenery we'll be travelling through is quite dramatic plus we'll be making stops along the way for walks, views, waterfalls, coastline and a couple of bike options! We start the day tracing the northern edge of Mt Aspiring National park crossing the Haast pass and the gateway to the Westland region before meeting the Tasman Sea. From here we travel north to the small township of Fox Glacier along the start of a road that has been voted one of the top 10 coastal journeys in the world!

    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 rain forest. 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 Fox Glacier Township or ride roughly half the distance for a shorter ride option
    • 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
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 3 hours
  3. Today is your chance to explore one of NZ’s most unique and spectacular natural wonders - Fox Glacier. This staggering beautiful work of nature is over 13 kilometres in length and plummets 2,600 metres from its peak in the Southern Alps. It is fed by four alpine glaciers that receive approximately 30 metres of snowfall each year. This snow compacts at the top to produce the wonderful blue ice hundreds of metres deep. To get on the ice you have to take a guided trip by helicopter!

    If you're not keen for a Heli hike it is still possible to see the glacier. From camp follow a walking track through beautiful native fern forests before the huge valley that holds the glacier opens up in front of you. Follow the walking track up the valley and you'll get to an impressive viewpoint where you can see the terminal face of this epic glacier! 

    Later that day we'll be heading down to Lake Matheson that has a nice, easy walking trail and, if conditions permit, the view of the southern alps gets reflected by the still waters of the lake. 

    We'll leave Fox Glacier mid afternoon and head towards our camp in a small town called Okarito. This has become a favourite on the tour as the tranquil little town is right on the coast and view across the Tasman sea are often accompanied by awesome sunsets. Okarito is also famous for its bird life and remains one of New Zealand's largest unmodified wetlands reserves! It is also possible to see other birds in the surrounding woodlands such as the rarest species of kiwi, the Rowi, that only lives in the small area that surrounds this quiet little settlement. 

    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
    • Bike Rides: Ride along the walk/cycleway to the Glacier viewpoint and then ride to Lake Matheson later in the day. There is also a beautiful ride on the quiet road that leads to Okarito
    • Walks and Hikes: If you're not hiking on the ice then definitely head up to the terminal face viewpoint and then in the afternoon a walk around Lake Matheson is a must do!
    • Optional Activities: Guided heli-hike, Terminal Facewalk
    • Available Upgrades: Yes (limited options)
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 2.5 hours
  4. If you're feeling up to it then you can head out on an early morning walk to watch the sunrise before we continue up this spectacular coastal stretch to Hokitika – home to the Greenstone factories where you can see these skilled craftsmen at work and a great place for a traditional souvenir of your visit. We travel on through pristine native forest to Paparoa National Park where giant columns of water shoot skywards at Pancake Rocks! This 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 limestones 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 we can relax at the local tavern and explore a cavern with some glow worms hanging out in the dark.

    Hokitika and the surrounding area is a traditional source of greenstone (pounamu) - several stores and outlets offer a variety of jewellery and other items in this thriving arts and crafts scene. Paparoa National Park is home to a plethora of luxuriant coastal forests, limestone cliffs, canyons, caves and underground streams, and an absolutely spectacular coastline, all packed into one national park.

    • 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. Leaving Punakaiki mid-morning we make our way inland through the majestic Buller Gorge to one of our favourite National Parks, Abel Tasman. In one of the sunniest areas of the country you will discover beautiful secluded bays and stunning golden sands. There are all kinds of options to experience the park but on the day we arrive it's all about getting a birds eye view by skydiving over the area. If you're not keen for this adrenaline activity we'll take you to camp and you can explore from there. Our campsite is located near the entrance to the park and we will be staying here for 3 nights to give you every chance to explore all corners of the park.

    New Zealand has a range of fantastic national parks but this is our favourite - maybe it's because this little gem lies on the doorstep of Flying Kiwi HQ but mainly it's due to the the golden sandy beaches, twisting rocky outcrops, turquoise clear waters and beautiful hidden bays. The park is also home to a range of life from dolphins and orcas to tuis and bellbirds. Whether from the ground, water or air the Abel Tasman never fails to disappoint aspiring photographers looking for the perfect beach shot!

    • 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?! Riding the Great Taste Tra
    • 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. Today we head through sunny Nelson on our way to Picton. Nelson is the headquarters for Flying Kiwi and you will soon find out why. 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. If finishing your tour in Nelson you will leave us on arrival by 11am.

    After a short stopover we leave Nelson for wine country – Marlborough, home to some of the World’s best known grapes and we will be treating you to a free tasting in one of their best vineyards. On route to the winery we’ll make a stop Pelorus bridge, a Hobbit film location and great place for a quick dip on a warm day. If finishing your tour in Picton you will leave us by 5pm.

    • 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

2018-19 AND 2019-20 SEASON TOUR PRICES:

  2018-19 2019-20
Tour price departing Queenstown (8 days) $1,685 $1,685
Tour price departing Christchurch (9 days) $1,840 $1,840
Bike hire $180 $180
Bring your own bike $65 $80
Single tent upgrade $90 $95
Sleeping bag hire $50 $65



MonthDeparture Dates
January '19 4th 13th 22nd 31st  
February '19   9th 18th 27th  
March '19   8th 17th 26th  
April '19 4th 13th 22nd    
November '19     2nd 11th 20th 24th 29th
December '19   8th  17th 26th  
January '20 4th  13th 22nd 31st  
February '20    9th 18th 27th  
March '20                7th 16th 25th  
 April '20 3rd 12th 21st    



MonthDeparture Dates
January '19 3rd 12th 21st 30th  
February '19   8th 17th 26th  
March '19   7th 16th 25th  
April '19 3rd 12th 21st    
November '19       1st   10th 19th 23rd 28th
December '19   7th 16th    
January '2020 3rd 12th 21st 30th  
February '20   8th 17th 26th  
March '20   6th 15th 24th  
 April '20 2nd 11th 20th    
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