The best of West Coast, Central Otago and Fiordland in 9 days
From Christchurch via West Coast to Queenstown and Milford Sound in 9 days
Experience the best of the south part of the West Coast with some hidden gems.
Welcome to our small-group (6 maximum) tour onboard our modern minibus, where you will be escorted around the area’s highlights.
Blog article from our tour in February 2021: West Coast Tour Diary
Day 1: Christchurch - 18 JAN Wednesday
Meeting with Martin at the airport. Scenic trip around the city. You will see the new development in Christchurch's CBD, Botanic Gardens and Arts Centre, New Brighton, we can visit Sumner, Littleton, etc.
Day 2: Arthurs Pass & Greymouth - 19 JAN Thursday
In the morning we will take the TranzAlpine Train (8:15am) to Arthurs Pass. This is the best part of the journey with winding railway tracks above Waimakariri River. (If you don't like to go by train, a driver can take you to Greymouth via Castle Hill) We will spend the afternoon around the Arthurs Pass village enjoying the alpine environment and you can walk to Devils Punchbowl Waterfall. From the village we will continue in the minibus via Otira Gorge with a few scenic stops on our way to Greymouth (this part of the train ride is a bit boring, unlike the road which is more scenic).
Day 3: Punakaiki, Hokitika, Ross, Franz Josef - 20 JAN Friday
In the morning we will enjoy Punakaiki with famous Pancake Rocks in Paparoa National Park.and a short walk along the Pororari River with the rainforest resembling Gondwana times. Hokitika is the heart of Pounamu country, we can visit the oldest greenstone workshop to get to understand the local history of jade and in the town are a few nice heritage buildings. If the weather is favourable we can visit scenic Hokitika Gorge. We will have a stop by Lake Mahinapua, in goldmining Ross we might visit one of the oldest pubs and there is still an operational open gold mine.
Accommodation: Franz Josef
We will visit Franz Josef Glacier (fancy a scenic helicopter flight?) and do a few short walks. We will travel to Okarito Lagoon and we can take a boat trip on the lagoon (weather dependent, one of the highlights of the trip with great views of Southern Alps, white herons and podocarp rainforest).
Accommodation: Franz Josef
Day 5: Fox Glacier village, Southern Alps, Haast 22 JAN Sunday
In the morning we travel to Fox Glacier village where we can walk around beautiful Lake Matheson. Later we will continue south along the Southern Alps with a few scenic stops and a walk amongst prehistoric kahikatea trees. Later on our way to Haast Pass we will visit Thunder Creek Falls and other scenic spots.
Day 6: Wanaka 23 JAN Monday
In Wanaka we can visit Rippon Vineyard with perhaps the best views in New Zealand and taste special biodynamic wines. Really worthwhile is a cruise to Mou Waho Island. Alternatively you can visit local museums, we can enjoy several walks or just relax :-)
We will drive via Cardrona Valley and Crown Range to Wakatipu Basin and visit old gold mining Arrowtown. In the afternoon we will explore Queenstown with many shops and cafes. Later we will drive along Remarkables Range and Lake Wakatipu via the small and quintessential South Island villages of Kingston, Garston, Athol and Mossburn, through to Te Anau - the gateway to Fiordland National Park.
Accommodation: Te Anau
Day 8: Milford Road and Milford Sound 25 JAN Wednesday
Day 9: Te Anau - Queenstown, flight to Auckland 26 JAN Thursday
According to your flight you will continue exploring Te Anau or Queenstown's region. Eventually you will be dropped at Queenstown Airport and fly back to Auckland.
If time allows we can see New Zealand's precious flightless takahe, kaka parrots and other birds in the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary (free entry, donation welcome, open for the whole day).
Main (in bold) and some optional activities
TranzAlpine Train from Christchurch to Arthurs Pass
National Kiwi Centre in Hokitika - the biggest eels you can ever see and more
Westland Greenstone - the oldest greenstone workshop in Hokitika
West Coast / New Zealand landscapes photography - Hlavacek Gallery in Whataroa
Okarito Boat Eco Tours - Okarito Lagoon is one of the hidden gems of West Coast
Flying Fox Heli Hike - Fox Glacier
Waiatoto River Safari - ocean to alps safari, showcasing some of the country’s best examples of dramatically changing landscape
Rippon Vineyard - Wanaka
Transport and Toy Museum - Wanaka
Warbirds and Wheels Museum - Wanaka
Puzzling World - Wanaka
Milford Sound cruise