4.5 2 Reviews

West Coast Adventure

  • 5 Days
  • 14 People Max

    5 - 14 guests

  • Activity Level 2
    • Activity Level 2

      On the Move

      Sure, I own some hiking boots, they're even worn in, but they don't go on long trips. I like my creature comforts and I like to give a range of activities a go.

    Read more about the Active Range

  • Trip Start: Christchurch
  • Trip End: Queenstown
West Coast Adventure Trip

Rugged beauty and jaw-dropping landscapes await on our West Coast Adventure hiking tour.

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 in the region. And what better way to finish the adventure than with a scenic flight above Milford Sound?

   This trip is operated by Active Adventures.

West Coast Adventure ~ Itinerary

Trip Start: Christchurch Trip End: Queenstown
  • Day 1Arrive, Hike Arthur's Pass, visit Pancake Rocks

  • Day 2Hike Pororari River Trail, walk Tatare Tunnels

  • Day 3Hike to Sentinel Rock, Kayak Okarito Lagoon

  • Day 4Hike Lake Matheson

  • Day 5Scenic Flight to Milford Sound

  • Day 1

    Arrive, Hike Arthur's Pass, visit Pancake Rocks

    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 meter (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 mesmerizing 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 (Lunch, Dinner)

    Hiking: 2 kilometers, 0.5-1 hour, elevation +/- 100 meters

  • Day 2

    Hike Pororari River Trail, walk Tatare Tunnels

    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 colors, 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 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. After we settle in we'll head out on our late afternoon walk to the historic Tartare Tunnels where we'll search for the native glowworm!

    Rainforest Resort, Franz Josef (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

    Hiking: Porari River Hike: 6 kilometers, 2-3 hours, elevation +/- 130 meters
    Hiking: Tatare Tunnels Hike: 4.6 kilometers, 2 hours, elevation +/- 120 meters

  • Day 3

    Hike to Sentinel Rock, Kayak Okarito Lagoon

    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 the temperate rainforest to just 250 meters above sea level. We’ll spend most of the day near Franz Josef Glacier where our hike will take us from the Franz Josef township, along the Waiho River bed up the valley to Sentinel Rock. Sentinel Rock emerged from beneath the glacier in 1865 and is an example of how the glacial ice ground the hard schist bedrock into a Roche moutonnee or ‘rock sheep’. After we re-group and enjoy lunch, we'll drive 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. 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 (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

    Hiking: Sentinel Rock Hike: 10.2 kilometers, 3 hours, elevation +/- 112 meters (365 feet)
    Kayaking: 3 hours
    Notes: Optional Heli-hike (extra fee applies): An outrageously scenic alternative to this afternoon’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 modern turbine helicopter and fly towards the highest peaks of the Southern Alps, landing on the glacier at 1300 meters (4265 feet) 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 and make sure you 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 civilization. The heli-hike is extremely popular and must be reserved at time of booking only.  The is also a weight limit of 115kg (250 pounds).

  • Day 4

    Hike Lake Matheson

    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 make this a walk not to be missed and with well-placed viewpoints 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 (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

    Hiking: 2.8 kilometers, 1.5 hours

  • Day 5

    Scenic Flight to Milford Sound

    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 recognized for its unspoiled 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.

    No Accommodation (Breakfast, Lunch)

Departure Dates

  • Upcoming
  • 3 months
  • 6 months
  • 1 year

Looking for a private departure? Let us know when you fill your enquiry form, and our Adventure Planners will let you know your different options.

USD $4699/per adult (+tax) 

Tax info:
Our New Zealand trip fares are subject to Goods and Services Tax (GST 15%)

1 Apr 2023
1 Apr5 Apr
Departure Almost Full Almost Full

Interactive Trip Map

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punakaiki 2
punakaiki resort


We’ve selected the accommodation on the West Coast Adventure trip for the stunning settings, unique character and adventuresome feel. We prefer to stay in quaint, comfortable bed and breakfasts, lodges and apartments, all of which have private bathrooms.

Austin PIF 2

Take 10% off the trip price when you book a trip and pay in full.

By paying in full we are able to pass on savings to our guests, but please note that by opting for this payment plan, your booking becomes non-refundable, non-cancellable, and non-changeable. 

We highly recommend that you purchase Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) insurance. We recommend Redpoint Insurance – you can find details here.

T+Cs Apply.


Useful Info

How do rooming arrangements work?

Trip prices are based on shared arrangements (typically two guests per room), unless otherwise stated. For solo travellers, we’ll pair you with another person of the same gender to share rooms and if there’s no one suitable to share with, there’s no forced single supplement. However, if you specifically request your own rooms, you can opt to pay the single supplement. Solo travellers who book within 90 days of departure, where there are no other solo travellers willing to share, will be required to pay the single supplement. 

For Family Vacation bookings, families consisting of four guests traveling with children aged 17 and under will be automatically assigned one shared room. However, the following alternative rooming allocations are available:

  • Families consisting of four guests with all children aged 13 and above are welcome to opt for additional rooms as per advertised double occupancy adult rates.
  • Families consisting of four guests with at least one child aged 12 and under are automatically assigned a shared room. However, families can opt to pay the adult rates for all guests in their family to have an additional room.
  • The same principles apply for families consisting of more than four guests.

Rooming preferences are subject to availability and must be communicated in writing at time of booking. Automatic assignments as per this policy will be applied in the absence of any specification provided by guests. Any request for additional rooms during trips will be at guests’ own expense and subject to rates made available by the accommodation provider at the time. All minors (guests aged 17 and under) must be accompanied by at least one adult.

Is tipping expected in New Zealand?

Tipping is neither required nor routinely expected in New Zealand, but it is appropriate for very good service. In New Zealand you don't usually tip in restaurants, or if you take a taxi, or get a haircut. Many of our guests do choose to tip our guides and we recommend USD$20 per day, per guest, per guide.

Where does the trip start?

On the first day of the trip we can either pick you up from the Merivale Manor in Christchurch at 9.30am or at Christchurch airport (CHC) in front of the Help Desk (near door 7) at 11am.

Where does the trip end?

Your trip ends with a drop-off at either the Queenstown Airport (ZQN) in time for flights below or anywhere in Queenstown around 4pm.

What flights would you recommend?

Arrival: We recommend arriving in Christchurch by 8am. Many guests like to arrive a day or two early to accommodate potential flight delays and/or explore the city prior to your trip start.

Departure: Flying out on the last day of the trip, we recommend departing from Queenstown after 4pm domestic and 5pm international flight departures. Earlier flight times will require a separate transfer booked at your own expense.

How fit do I need to be?

As an Activity Level 2-3 trip, you’ll need a solid level of fitness for this trip. It’s an active hiking trip, and has options to suit a wide range of fitness levels and outdoor experience therefore if you keep reasonably active and like to give things a go, you’re likely to enjoy the trip much more. Typically, hikes range between three and six hours to complete.

Please head to our Fitness Guide for great tips on how to prepare along with a workout plan!

How much luggage can I bring on this trip?

You’ll need one piece of luggage on your trip, plus a daypack. Your main piece of luggage can be anything from a backpack, to a sports bag with wheels or a suitcase and a good quality daypack 25-30 litres (2000 cubic inches) to use throughout the days.

Tell me about the Optional Activities on this trip?

You have the option to take an exciting scenic helicopter flight to visit the upper reaches of the Franz Josef Glacier on the West Coast – an area usually only experienced mountaineers would get to see. No prior experience is required, everything you need is supplied, and as long as you can hike, you can heli-hike!

The three hour package includes a scenic helicopter flight (15 minutes one-way), a two-hour guided walk on and around the glacier and amazing panoramic views of the area. A good level of fitness is required and the following equipment is provided for you: glacier boots, socks, crampons, ice axe and a waterproof raincoat. You’ll need to bring underlayers and this will be depend on the weather, along with sunglasses, sunscreen, some snacks and a small drink bottle.

Note; this is not a fast activity, as walking with a group and continually cutting steps in the ice can be time-consuming. This is however a unique experience. Also If you have (or have had) a heart condition, ACL Knee surgery or you exceed the weight limit of 115 kilograms (250 pounds), you may be refused this activity on arrival.

*This activity MUST be booked at the time of booking.

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West Coast Adventure