The West Coast Winter Escape Tour
A 9 day/9 night tour to see many highlights of the West Coast of the South Island. Enjoy the temperate winter climate of the bush clad environment and stunning natural attractions. Visit Nelson, Reefton, Karamea, Denniston Plateau, a private gold mine, Punakaiki, Hokitika, Greymouth, Franz Josef, Kumara and Christchurch. Highlights include a glacier landing, short walks available at the Oparara Arches, Hokitika Gorge, Okarito Lagoons, Lake Matheson, Pancake Rocks and the Hokitika treetop walkway.
Day 1: Nelson and Tasman Area Sightseeing
Pick up from Nelson at around mid-day from the airport or your accommodation. Enjoy lunch immersed in wine country in the picturesque hillside. Time for some sightseeing around Nelson, tonight’s accommodation overlooks the harbour, with a lovely meal out.
Day 2: Nelson, Murchison, Reefton and to Cape Foulwind
After breakfast we start our journey westward towards Murchison, stopping off for morning tea. We then head off to meet some old local characters in Reefton for a pot of billy tea (their special brew), as we step back in time to an earlier era.
There is free time to explore the main street of Reefton before lunch. Reefton is known as the town of light as it was the first place in the southern hemisphere to receive street lighting in 1888. We overnight east of Westport at spacious, modern motels overlooking the rugged Cape Foulwind coastline. This evening we enjoy some West Coast hospitality at a local historic tavern.
Day 3: Westport Tauranga Bay, Denniston Plateau, Seddonville on to Karamea
After breakfast we will drive to Tauranga Bay and take a short walk to see the resident fur seals. We visit the historic coal mining township of Denniston (600 m above sea level) to have a special talk with one of the locals. He will give us an understanding of the life of the original miners.
Enjoy the scenic drive travelling up the West Coast passing through the small towns of Granity, Hector and Mokihinui, on our way to Karamea, the final township at the end of the road. We enjoy a two-night stay in comfortable, modern accommodation with a bar and restaurant on site.
Day 4: Karamea
Today we see the pristine natural West Coast flora with a leisurely walk beside a meandering bush clad river, learning about the rich history of the area. Enjoy some of the short walks to see the Oparara Caves and Arches, touted as the 8th Wonder of the World by English botanist Richard Bellamy. We also visit the beginning of the Heaphy Track. A picnic lunch today before returning to Karamea to visit the local museum as well as taking the time to look around Karamea’s iconic general store.
Day 5: Karamea, Westport, Punakaiki and on to Hokitika
After breakfast in the dining room, we travel southwards to Westport and visit the Coaltown Museum. We will visit the family owned Mitchell’s gold mine and see an old stamping mill in working condition and other gold mining relics, this property is 5th generation on from the original settlers, quite amazing.
A quick visit to the historic gold mining township of Charleston with its iron sand beach and enclosed bay, we travel on the wild coastline to Punakaiki to have lunch and a stroll round the Pancake Rocks to view the wonderful blow holes. We have time for a look around Greymouth and for shopping before driving to our accommodation in Hokitika for a two-night stay; enjoy a meal out in town tonight.
Day 6: Hokitika and its Natural Highlights, Free Afternoon
This morning we travel to the beautiful and historic Lake Mahinapua to soak up the chocolate box scenery before enjoying a café breakfast and the treetops walk experience. An easy to access walkway up high amidst the ancient Rimu and Kamahi rainforest with views over the surrounding landscape.
We will then visit another beautiful West Coast gem, the Hokitika Gorge. A short easy walk to enjoy excellent views of the magical blue-green waters of the Hokitika River where it has carved its way through the rock sided Hokitika Gorge. Returning to Hokitika township we have free time to explore the town, its artisan galleries, great shopping or relax at the beach or your room, before going out to dinner tonight.
Day 7: Hokitika, Ross, Okarito on to Franz Josef
After breakfast in town, we drive to the historic gold rush town of Ross, visit the museum and a chance to do some walking trails if you wish. We will visit the Harihari coastal walkway and the Okarito Lagoons to see the historic shed with its photo and history collection, before travelling to Franz Joseph for a two-night stay. Enjoy a special dining experience tonight.
Day 8: Franz Josef Glacier, Lake Matheson Fox Glacier township
Today we have a special experience arranged for you, to get up close to Franz Josef Glacier. The glacier is now only accessible by helicopter, and you will be able to enjoy some of the most stunning ‘ice architecture’ of any glacier in the world.
Your 20-minute flight includes a snow landing. Bring your camera!
We will then visit the beautiful Lake Matheson with views to Mt Cook and the magnificent reflections of native bush, there is time to explore the township of Fox Glacier and later free time in Franz, with the option of a swim in the hot pools before going out for dinner.
Day 9: Franz Josef, Kumara, Otira, Castlehill, Sheffield to Christchurch
Today we head north up the coastline with its stunning coastal views, stopping in the historic settlement of Kumara for morning tea and to see some of the bill boards detailing the rich history of the area, before starting our journey towards the east coast.
On our way towards the viaduct we stop off at the historic Otira pub before leaving the rugged landscape of the West Coast and crossing the Canterbury Plains. From the plains we can view all the white capped Southern Alps and the Waimakariri catchment.
We overnight in Christchurch with our final special dinner together.
Day 10: Your tour finishes after breakfast.
Travel will be in our comfortable all-wheel drive minivan or our spacious small bus.
Small group numbers, friendly personal attention and assistance.
We can help with your post tour transfers.
Per person twin or double share accommodation.
Single room occupancy.
Tour dates: Contact us
9 night’s accommodation,
5 morning teas
Reefton ‘Bearded Miners’ visit
Entry to Karamea Museum
Oparara Arches visit
Pancake Rocks walkway
Denniston Plateau visit
Mitchell’s Gully Gold Mine visit
West Coast Treetop Walk experience
Coaltown Museum entry
Hokitika Treetops walk
Ross Museum entry
Franz Josef Heli flight