The West Coast of New Zealand affords one of the most spectacular drives in the world. Commanding stunning views of both rugged ocean coastline and snow-capped mountains and glaciers, it provides a truly memorable experience. An iconic train journey, exhilarating heli-hiking, turquoise glaciers and superb accommodation are features of this itinerary. In Wanaka, enjoy the tranquil alpine setting with beautiful views over the serene lake.
Best Time To Be There
Summer on the north island (December to February) is ideal for outdoor pursuits with mild temperatures and hours of sunshine. Venture to the numerous ski slopes and warm up close to a crackling fire during the winter months in June to August.
Not required for Australian passport holders
Yellow fever certificate if arriving from an endemic area.
Day 1 – Christchurch
On arrival at Christchurch Airport meet your Abercrombie & Kent guide and transfer by private vehicle to your accommodation. Dinner has been reserved for you at Pescatore Restaurant at the hotel this evening (D)
Day 2 – Christchurch – Greymouth
This morning meet your Abercrombie & Kent chauffeur in the lobby and transfer by private vehicle to connect with the scheduled Tranz Alpine Train to Greymouth.
The TranzAlpine scenic train journey travels between Christchurch and Greymouth, from one coast of New Zealand to the other. From your carriage you’ll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Your train then climbs into the Southern Alps before descending through lush beech rain forest to the West Coast town of Greymouth.
On arrival in Greymouth make your way to the rental car counter at the train station where you will collect your full size automatic car. Your rental car has been reserved for you until drop off at Christchurch airport on Day 7.
Note: When you collect your rental car please ask the rental car company for your Kruse GPS system – this has been reserved for you until Day 7.
Once you have collected your rental car and GPS system, self-drive to your accommodation, a journey of approximately two and a half hours. The road to Franz Josef is rural, but with a wild streak. The farmland is trying to turn back into forest, and the beauty of the rivers is raw and primeval. A visit to the White Heron colony near Whataroa is a rare experience (optional – pay direct) (B).
Day 3 – Franz Josef Glacier
This morning make your way to the Helicopter Line office and report for your Heli Hike Tour.
Today you will enjoy your Helihike. Franz Josef Glacier is found in the stunning Westland National Park and is one of the most spectacular glaciers in this region. Your tour combines an awesome scenic helicopter flight (approx ten minutes) over the glacier with a unique guided walk (approx two hours) amongst the ice caves, pinnacles and seracs of this pristine, alpine environment. You’ll see the extraordinary colours of the ice-flow from above and then up close, on an unforgettable guided walk.
This remainder of today is at your leisure.
Included for your convenience this afternoon is an All Day Pass to visit the West Coast Wildlife Centre. This is a brand new all weather attraction located in the centre of Franz Josef. It is the official home to the incubation and captive rearing programme for New Zealand’s rarest Kiwi – the Rowi. The Rowi is only found around the town of Franz Josef in the Okarito Forest.
This all day pass allows you to see New Zealand’s rarest kiwi, west coast wildlife movies, glacier experience and fascinating West Coast story telling. From the rich history surrounding gold-mining and hunting, through to the incredible evolution of the famous Franz Josef glacier itself (B).
Day 4 – Franz Josef – Wanaka
Today make your way to your accommodation in Wanaka, a journey of approximately four hours. Discover the rugged scenery along one of New Zealand’s most awe-inspiring highways. Your journey will take you via the Haast Pass, the southern most pass that connects the communities of the East and West, is humbling. Marvel at the vast rainforests to the clearest waterfalls that eclipse this untouched landscape. Enjoy breathtaking sights, from high mountain peaks to blue lakes before arriving into Wanaka (B,D).
Day 5 – Wanaka Touring
Today you will enjoy a Wanaka Nature Encounter Tour! You will be collected from your accommodation and transferred to connect with the scheduled boat cruise on the pristine waters of Lake Wanaka to Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve. Enjoy a guided walk to the spectacular summit that reveals the island’s secret – A Lake on top of an Island! – Enjoy a serene “High Tea” here, up close and personal with rare native birds, and plant a tree as part of this unique eco experience. On conclusion you will return to Wanaka where you will meet your guide and enjoy lunch before continuing on to the 4WD part of your day. After lunch experience the stark beauty and solitude of the spectacular high country, bordering a World Heritage area by 4WD. You will explore the private farm tracks on an historic Wanaka sheep, cattle and deer station. From the site of Nehenehe, an ancient Maori settlement abandoned in the 1830’s, to the ruins of Wanaka’s first European settler’s farmhouses, this journey offers a unique insight into Wanaka’s rich history, heritage and modern-day farming life. On conclusion of your tour you will be returned to your accommodation (B,L,D).
Day 6 – Wanaka – Mount Cook
Today you will make your way to your accommodation at Mount Cook, a journey of approximately three hours. This journey will provide many photo opportunities, including the picture pretty Lindis Valley that leads you into the beautiful Lindis Pass. From mountains glistening in snow during winter, to the stunning shades of gold in the summer landscape – this really is an all-season journey. Your journey will also see you passing picturesque sheep farming country fringed with mountain ranges, the surreal opaque turquoise Lake Pukaki, high country tussock and more before arriving at the Mount Cook Village and your accommodation.
The remainder of today is at your leisure (B).
Day 7 – Mount Cook – Christchurch
Today you will make your way to Christchurch, a journey of approximately four hours. You will leave Aoraki / Mt Cook village and travel past Lake Pukaki to Lake Tekapo, where you can view the solitary Church of the Good Shepherd and take in the sights of the spectacular Southern Alps mountain range. You will then continue through the diverse farmland of the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch.
On arrival in Christchurch make your way to the airport where you will return your rental car and connect with your onward flight (B).
Your Itinerary Includes
Ground Operations: A&K are on call around the clock to ensure complete care and unsurpassed
attention on your journey.
Accommodation: All accommodation as detailed with private facilities.
Meals/Beverages: Meals as specified.
Transfers/Transport: A&K airport welcome on arrival.
Sightseeing: As detailed.
Train: Tranz Alpine train Christchurch to Greymouth.
Car Hire: 5 day 4WD car hire with GPS.
Entrance fees: As required.
Miscellaneous: New Zealand Government Good and Services Taxes.
Arrangements: The trip price includes planning, handling, operational and communication
Your Itinerary Excludes
Flights/airport tax: Any flights/airport taxes not included in “Your itinerary includes”.
Insurance: Insurance coverage of personal loss, injury, illness or damages incurred during your trip. We strongly recommend travel /cancellation insurance.
Personal expenses: Items of a purely personal nature such as drinks, laundry, dry cleaning, internet, fax, or telephone charges and transfers/sightseeing or meals not included in “Your itinerary includes”.
Excess baggage charges.
Gratuities: Tipping to local representatives, guides or drivers.
Visas: If required.