Step into a largely undiscovered world filled to the brim with temperate rainforest, towering mountains and glaciers on our 5-day West Coast Adventure hiking trip. From the picturesque Pancake Rocks and the otherwordly Tatare tunnels to the dynamic Franz Josef glacier and the wildlife-filled Okarito Lagoon, you'll discover why the West Coast is a geological marvel changing with time. Nowhere else can you experience such photogenic landscapes complete with snowcapped peaks, panoramic ocean views, beaches, towering waterfalls and interesting rock formations. Let your guides lead the way as you enjoy a moment in time on our West Coast Adventure hiking tour, and stay in some of the most stunning accommodations of the region. And what better way to finish the adventure than with a scenic flight above Milford Sound?
West Coast Adventure
Travel DatesOctober 21 - March 22
Sale EndsMar 21, 2022
Priced From$4,199 per person
Day 1: Arrive, Hike Arthur's Pass, visit Pancake Rocks (L,D)
After meeting our group we’ll settle into our comfortable transport and get our adventure underway, traveling into the Southern Alps via Arthur’s Pass where we’ll venture out on our first hike together, the Devil’s Punchbowl. This walk will take you through native beech forest to an incredible 131 metre (430 feet) waterfall, so you’ll want to make sure you have your camera on hand! After our hike, we’ll continue on our way through Arthur's Pass - this stunning drive is surrounded by rolling hills, and winds through river valleys. We'll descend a steep and impressive highway, a feat of engineering which needs to be seen to be believed! Once we arrive in Punakaiki, we’ll check out the famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes – aptly named limestone formations that have been sculpted through the relentless pounding of the Tasman Sea. The rugged coastlines and sculptured landscapes around the Pancake Rocks are simply mesmerising and now is the perfect time to slow down and really soak it all in. Keep an eye out for playful Hector’s dolphins or little blue penguins playing in the surf and if we’ve timed it right we might be treated to the spectacular booming of the blowholes in action. After exploring the rocks we'll then settle into the comfortable and well-appointed Punakaiki resort for dinner and chat about the days to come (and, if the weather's right, hopefully catch a sunset!).
Punakaiki Resort, Punakaiki
Hiking Distance: 2 kilometres, 0.5-1 hour
Elevation Gain: 100 metres
Elevation Loss: 100 metres
Pancake Rocks: 0.5-1 hour
DAY 2 Hike Pororari River Trail, kayak Okarito Lagoon (All Meals)
Temperate rainforest clinging to sheer limestone canyon walls sets the scene as we venture into the Paparoa National Park where we’ll spend the morning hiking a portion of the Inland Pack Track, following in the footsteps of gold miners who established this trail over a century ago. Moss and ferns add to the delightful and rich tapestry of textures and colours, with impressive views up the valley and cobbled rocks dotting the river, offering the perfect opportunity to try your hand at skimming. After our hike, our next stop is Hokitika, a coastal settlement known as the “Cool Little Town”, famous for its pounamu, also known as greenstone or jade. As New Zealand's pounamu capital, Hokitika is a vital stop to learn about its history, and the carving process - it's also a great place to grab a gift or two! After we stretch our legs on the beach we'll carry on to a little-known beach community on the coast, Okarito. Okarito is home to the only native white heron colony in New Zealand, as well as a host of other interesting birds like the Okarito brown kiwi! We'll take to the water in sea kayaks and glide along a picturesque lagoon, set against a stunning backdrop of snow-capped peaks. Afterwards we'll continue with a short journey to the township of Franz Josef where we’ll stay for the next couple of nights. Nestled in the rainforest-clad foothills of the Southern Alps, Franz Josef is the heart of glacier country on the West Coast and we'll base ourselves here to explore the glaciers and hidden gems of the area.
Rainforest Resort, Franz Josef
Hiking Distance: 6 kilometres, 2-3 hours
Elevation Gain: 130 metres
Elevation Loss: 130 metres
Kayaking Time: 2-3 hours
DAY 3 Hike Franz Josef Terminal Face, walk Tatare tunnels (All Meals)
With some 140 glaciers making their way down from the Southern Alps, this area is fittingly known as glacier country. Few sights equal the spectacle of two of these giant frozen rivers (Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers) imperceptibly grinding their way down through temperate rainforest to just 250 metres above sea level. We’ll spend most of the day near Franz Josef Glacier where our hike will take us along the Waiho River bed up the valley right to the terminal face of Franz Josef Glacier.
Optional Heli-hike (extra fee applies)
An outrageously scenic alternative to today’s hike is to heli-hike on Franz Josef Glacier itself. After being fitted with crampons, ice axes and so on, you’ll board a turbine helicopter and fly towards the highest peaks of the Southern Alps, landing on the glacier at 1300 metres above sea level. Led by specialist glacier guides, you’ll hike through the grand ice formations of the glacier, checking out its crevasses, seracs and tunnels – no previous experience is required! The constant movement of the glacier means every day is different, so your guides will cut steps in the ice to make the most of the conditions. At the end of your hike on the ice, you’ll take another helicopter ride out of the mountains and back to civilisation.
After we re-group and enjoy lunch, we'll head out on our afternoon walk to the historic Tartare Tunnels where we'll search for the native glowworm! And If there's time tonight you can venture out after dark to listen to some of New Zealand’s nocturnal birdlife, such as the morepork owl.
Rainforest Resort, Franz Josef
Terminal Face Hiking Distance: 4.8 kilometres, 2-3 hours
Elevation Gain: 20 metres
Elevation Loss: 20 metres
Tatare Tunnels Hiking Distance: 4.6 kilometres, 2 hours
Elevation Gain: 120 metres
Elevation Loss: 120 metres
DAY 4 Hike Lake Matheson (All Meals)
Our hike this morning around Lake Matheson is nestled in ancient forest and is famous for mirror views of Aoraki Mount Cook and Mount Tasman, This stunning hike through temperate rainforest is just a short distance from Franz Josef Glacier, and provides a striking and beautiful contrast to the glacier we visited yesterday. Birdsong and peaceful tranquillity makes this a walk not to be missed and with well-placed view points and botanical explanations, you’ll be an expert on the local flora and fauna with some incredible photos too.
After lunch we'll head south, taking one of the most beautiful coastal journeys in the world along the South Island's West Coast, looking out to the Tasman Sea as we wind our way towards the small township of Haast. We'll turn inland from here and cross the Haast Pass, to our final location for the night, the township of Wanaka. Whether you’re skipping stones on the lake’s edge or relaxing by the fire at the lodge, Wanaka is a great spot to rediscover simple pleasures. We'll enjoy our final night together with a celebratory dinner as we sit and soak in the adventures from the last few days.
Edgewater Resort, Wanaka
Hiking Distance: 2.8 kilometres, 1.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 10 metres
Elevation Loss: 10 metres
DAY 5 Scenic Flight to Milford Sound (B,L)
This morning we'll rise early and jump straight on board our scenic flight to Milford Sound! Departing from Wanaka Airport. Our flight will take us over Lake Wanaka, then out to Mt Aspiring National Park; this stunning region is part of the World Heritage areas of Te Wahipounamu and recognised for its unspoilt beauty. We'll fly past the peak of Mt Aspiring and view glaciers, remote valleys and pristine alpine lakes over Fiordland National Park - the views as we fly into Milford Sound will stay with us forever and we'll even have views out to the Tasman Sea! The scale of Milford Sound is best appreciated from the air, with cascading waterfalls and sheer cliffs which fall into the blue waters of the Sound. We'll return via the Dart Valley and Glenorchy before heading over the Cardrona Saddle to Queenstown where we'll say our goodbyes and arrive in time for late afternoon flights.
Flight Time: 1.5 hours
We require a NZ$500 deposit per person per trip to secure your place on your chosen trip/s. This deposit is non-refundable and non-transferable to another departure date or trip. In the event that it becomes necessary for you to cancel the trip, the following cancellation charges will apply:
- Cancellations outside 30 days of departure: full refund, less transferable deposit.
- Cancellations within 30 days of departure: full forfeit.
Any deposits not transferred to future trips are non-refundable and will be forfeited.