Wild West South Island Tour

Wild West South Island Tour

  • Queenstown
  • Picton
  • 8 days
  • 4.8 / 5.0 (73 reviews)
  • from NZD$1,835.00

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:

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 start your trip in Queenstown. If you need to get there from Christchurch we can help you to book a public bus service from Christchurch to Queenstown. This service 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!

TRIP OPTIONS:

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! 

If you'd like to Start from Christchurch: We want to work in with your plans, and we know that many travellers arrive into the South Island via Christchurch. We can help you book a public shuttle service from Christchurch to Queenstown prior to your trip. 

TOUR EXTENSIONS:

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:

Northern Wanderer - The best of the North Island (starting Auckland and finishing Wellington) includes the thermal wonders of New Zealand's volcanic region, the superb Coromandel and the World's great one day walk - The Tongariro Crossing.

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.

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 through more mountains and on towards more 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. 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. 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 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 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. 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?!
    • 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. Free day to explore the National Park by kayaking or sailing the crystal-clear waters, or multiple walking options.

    • 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. We spend another full day at the doorstep to New Zealand’s smallest but most visited national park and our personal favourite, the Abel Tasman. 

    Tonight, we’ll be eating at a local hang out, The Fat Tui (own cost).

    • Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
    • Bike Rides: Kaiteriteri mountain bike park, rides from camp
    • Walks and Hikes: Exploring Abel Tasman National Park
    • Optional Activities: Kayaking, canyoning, sailing, water taxi / walk, conservation projects (free), conservation tour
    • Available Upgrades: Yes
    • Drive Distance: No driving today
  8. 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

2021 TOUR PRICES:

Tour price departing Queenstown (8 days)

$1835

Tour price departing Christchurch (9 days)

$2075

Bike hire

$200

Bring your own bike

$100

Single tent upgrade

$105

Sleeping bag hire

$75

 

2021 DEPARTURES FROM QUEENSTOWN - (8 DAYS)

Please note: Due to Covid-19 we have a reduced number of departures for our 2020-2021 season.

Month

Departing Queenstown

February

1st, 28th

March

27th

 

If you'd like to Start from Christchurch: We can help you book a public shuttle service from Christchurch to Queenstown prior to your trip. 

Show nearby:

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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