Westland Tour - Walk/Cycle - 8 Days
Immerse yourself in the natural beauty and history of the famous West Coast with 4 easy days of cycling followed by 4 days of magical walking
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Day 1 Greymouth to Kumara - 29km
Welcome along! Your tour begins with a scenic coach journey from Christchurch across the Canterbury Plains and over Arthurs Pass to Greymouth. Originally established as home for hundreds of gold and coal miners following the 1860’s gold rush , Greymouth today enjoys popularity as a base for fishing, hiking and other recreational activities with its wild river, rugged native bush-covered hills and pounding surf.
Today from Greymouth you’ll start your ride cycling 12km down a coastal path on a raised dune system. Along the way enjoy views over several small settlements and the surrounding countryside as you follow the spectacular coastline of the Tasman Sea. The trail then continues on the scenic route south to Taramakau, between Greymouth and Hokitika. Turning inland from here, you’ll head to Kumara along a historic tramway. Kumara is a former gold mining town and home of one of New Zealand’s greatest early politicians, Richard Seddon.
Tonight your overnight stay is in a charming historic hotel in Kumara
Day 2 Kumara to Milltown - 37km
The West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail continues this morning with a ride through rainforest as you head towards Milltown.
This section of the route (and indeed the trail itself) is certain to become one of New Zealand’s most popular cycle rides, offering stunning scenery and fascinating local history. You will pass through some of the best stands of native forest left in New Zealand on your journey today.
Milltown overlooks the Arahura Valley, an area once rich in gold and still known as the source of the highly prized pounamu (greenstone).
Tonight your stay is in Hokitika, a pretty seaside town known for its greenstone carving industry and home to many artisans and craftspeople.
Day 3 Milltown to Hokitika - 33km
Your ride today starts at the head of the Arahura River, which rises from the Southern Alps and meets the Tasman Sea just north of Hokitika.
You’ll pass water raceways, rich dairy farmland and the tranquil Lake Kaniere, described by some as” the most beautiful lake in New Zealand”. Formed by glacial erosion in the last ice age, Lake Kaniere itself is only 8 km long and 2 km wide but can be as deep as 195 metres in places and is surrounded by verdant native bush, making it a popular spot for campers and holiday makers in the summer. You bike through a section of towering ancient rimu forest and tree ferns.
Tonight, you’ll spend a second night in Hokitika.
Day 4 Hokitika to Ross - 33km
Your day starts with an easy coastal ride, then follows the bush tramway past Lake Mahinapua. It is a great ride through typical West Coast bush and wetlands.
The final leg of the cycle ride follows a disused railway line with a number of distinctive wooden bridges and wild west coast coastal scenery to your next and final stop the gold mining, farming and forestry town of Ross.
Ross is a small West Coast town where New Zealand’s largest gold nugget, “The Honourable Roddy” was found. .
We stop in at the West Coast Treetop Walkway and Cafe for lunch and a walk amongst the treetops with the birds on the specially constructed walkway.
We then return to Hokitika for the night.
Day 5 Hokitika to Franz Josef
We depart from Hokitika on a short scenic drive to Ross.
Your guide will take you on an expedition along the Water Race Walkway, which is an historic gold trail that winds its way up the hill behind the township.
Stride through the regenerating bush and pass a network of water races that supplied water to the sluicing operations of the Ross Goldfields. There will be an opportunity to pan for gold here. Enjoy a picnic lunch before starting the Hari Hari Coastal Walk. Following the old packhorse tracks alongside the Wanganui River you will experience a mixture of bush and beach walking.
Tonight you will enjoy an evening meal in the interesting alpine village of Franz Josef, nestled at the foot of the Southern Alps.
Day 6 Franz Josef to Okarito to Franz Josef
This morning’s walk will start in Okarito, a small coastal settlement surrounded by the panorama of ocean, tidal estuary, sea cliffs, lush forest and unsurpassed views of the Southern Alps.
Indulge in amazing panoramic views of the Westland National Park coastline before your guide leads you along the inland route, and then over the Kohuamarua Bluff. This is a great spot to meander through towering rimu, rata and silver pine forest, before dropping down to a quiet sheltered lagoon.
After lunch you can take a peek inside the hut on the old jetty at Okarito. Here you can view old photos of the area and there is a storyboard illustrating the history of Okarito. We then go on an exclusive boat tour on the lagoon and hear about and see the abundant flora and fauna of the area
Enjoy another night in Franz Josef village and a great meal with your group.
Todays itinerary maty be reversed as the walk is tide dependant.
Day 7 Franz Josef to Fox Glacier
This morning depart on foot from the centre of Franz Josef township, your guide will lead the group along the Te Ara a Waiau Walkway. The track heads into the forest on the left-hand side of the road for a short time, before re-emerging from the forest and crossing the glacier valley access road. From this point you begin the Franz Josef Glacier Walk, following a rocky path over the riverbed and along the track that will take you close to the ice. (Dependant on conditions) From here it is back to the carpark and all aboard for Fox Glacier
This afternoon you will view the dramatic ice on the Fox Glacier Walk. After inspecting ice in the river and enjoying the boulder hopping, you view the striking terminal ice face, which is a spectacular experience.
With a very unique and diverse day of walking under your belt you overnight in the town of Fox Glacier and enjoy restaurant dining with fantastic views of the area.
Day 8 Fox Glacier to Hokitika
Today is the final day of your walking tour, before breakfast, you will take in truly stunning vistas on the Lake Matheson Walk. Your group will stroll along a very pleasant track with plenty of viewing platforms for capturing the famous mirror images of Mount Cook, Tasman and La Perous from different angles.
The lake is nestled in ancient forest in the Te Wahipounamu South-West New Zealand World Heritage Area, which includes the Westland Tai Pountini National Park. The lake was formed over 14,000 years ago when the Fox Glacier retreated from its last major advance towards the sea and left a depression which later filled with water.
After your walk around Lake Matheson you will enjoy a hearty and much deserved breakfast before setting off back to Hokitika.
Your tour, finishes in Hokitika or Christchurch