Hiking New Zealand: 5 day Coast and Canyons (Custom Tour)
5 day Coast and Canyons
5 days & 4 nights
D: River crossings, some uneven terrain, you need to be reasonably fit and enthusiastic
Your New Zealand bush walking tour on the west coast is packed full of highlights including a hike through beech forest, past limestone sinkholes and across tussock-covered mountain slopes in Kahurangi National Park. Watch the antics of New Zealand fur seal pups at a breeding colony. Hike through lush rainforest in a limestone canyon, wade across crystal clear rivers, and explore glowworm caves in Paparoa National Park.
This custom tour can be combined with the TranzAlpine Train to finish in Christchurch on Day 5. We can book the train for you for NZ$199. The train departs Greymouth at 1:45pm.
This trip is the first half of the West Coast Wilderness Custom Tour. If you would like more information about the whole trip, please check out the West Coast Wilderness Custom Tour.
What to Bring:
New Zealand’s weather is changeable and we can experience extremely cold weather at any time of year, especially in the mountains. Our huts/camps vary in altitude from sea level to over 1000 metres. It is necessary to have warm clothing. Jeans are not suitable for hiking.
- Hiking boots (not shoes)
- Backpack (at least 60 litres capacity)
- Backpack liner (plastic bag)
- 3-season sleeping bag
- Waterproof raincoat (gore-tex or similar)
- Warm fleece/wool jersey (not cotton)
- Shorts for hiking
- Polypro/thermals – top & long-johns
- 3 pairs of socks (they get wet)
- Warm hat or balaclava
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Drink bottle (1 litre)
- Spare shoes or sandals
- Flashlight/head lamp
- Insect repellent (sandflies like foreign blood)
- Spare set of clothes
Optional items: Gaiters, binoculars, gloves/mittens, earplugs, walking poles, camera.
We supply: Therm-a-rest sleeping mat, tents, cooking equipment, plates/cutlery, first aid kit, safety equipment and maps.
Luggage: We allow space for 120 litres per person (one large pack plus one day pack). You may be required to forward excess luggage if you exceed this. Any gear you do not need while hiking can be locked in the vehicle. Hiking New Zealand accepts no responsibility for security of your luggage. We highly recommend travel insurance.
This is a sample itinerary of what we can offer for custom groups (minimum of four required).
Monday - Join tour in Nelson - 11km/4 hours hiking
Your tour begins in Nelson, in the north of the South Island. After collecting food supplies, we drive to Motueka and up to Flora Saddle (at 1000 metres). We have an early lunch and organise our packs for the first hike. Leaving our vehicle behind, we hike through beech forest, following a stream, in the tussock-covered tablelands of Kahurangi National Park. Gold was discovered here in the late 1850’s and tracks began to be laid, and in many areas gold finds weren’t as rich as expected. Scientists were attracted to the unique flora of the Heaphy area and conservationists managed to get this area made into a scenic reserve in 1915. Tonight we stay in an old goldminer’s rock shelter, a great place to get to know each other with introductions around a cosy campfire.
Tuesday - Buller Gorge - 15km/7 hours hiking
We have an early start this morning, and after a quick breakfast we continue across the tablelands to explore a New Zealand karst landscape of sinkholes and caves. This whole area is of geological interest as it is in a range of marble and limestone hills, the interior being riddled with potholes. We climb up through mossy forest to the bushline and then onwards to Gordon’s Pyramid (1489 metres). We continue across a basin of crystalline marble karst to the shoulder of Mount Arthur and, if weather and time permit, fitter members can trek to the summit (1795 metres) for panoramic views of the Nelson region. We return to Flora Saddle and drive to a character cottage overlooking the Buller Gorge where we camp for the night.
Wednesday - Paparoa National Park - 8km/4 hours hiking
This morning we head out to Cape Foulwind and visit a breeding colony of New Zealand fur seals - once almost hunted to extinction. We then turn south to the old gold-rush town of Charleston for lunch at a beautiful cove. This pretty town used to boast over 80 hotels in the late 1860’s! After relaxing here for a short while, we begin our hike up a spectacular limestone river canyon in Paparoa National Park. Established in 1987, the park covers over 30,000 hectares. It has natural attractions including mountains, limestone cliffs and caves, rivers and wilderness areas. During our hike we learn river-crossing techniques, so prepare to get your boots wet. We collect firewood along the way and set up camp under the massive Ballroom Overhang – a fluviatile cave, carved by river-scouring.
Thursday - Punakaiki - 12km/6 hours hiking
Today we have a chance to explore the nearby limestone canyon and caves (some people may want to swim) with stalactites and stalagmites, cave wetas (large wingless insects), glowworms and the tallest moss in the world (Dawsonia superba). We then hike along the historic Inland Pack Track to Bullock Creek, and arrive back in Punakaiki by mid-afternoon. Visit the Pancake Rocks. These 30 million-year-old limestone rocks have formed into what look like immense layers of pancakes. When the tide is high, or the weather rough, the water surges into caverns below the rocks and squirts through mighty blowholes, bearing a great resemblance to natural geysers. Return to camp/cabin accommodation.
Friday - Tour ends in Greymouth - 5km/2 hours hiking
Take an optional stroll along the coast to check out sea caves that were once used as shelter by early Maori. Tides permitting, you can climb on to a headland. Driving south, we follow the coast to Greymouth, arriving late morning. Time to have a quick look around and say farewells to fellow travellers continuing on down the coast. You may wish to join the TranzAlpine train journey to Christchurch departing Greymouth at 1:45pm. Rated as one of the world’s top six train journeys, it crosses the main divide through the lush forests of Arthur’s Pass National Park, over massive viaducts and along the impressive Waimakariri Gorge and finally the fertile farmland of the Canterbury Plains before arriving in Christchurch in the early evening. If you choose to stay in Greymouth, you can be dropped off at your accommodation.
Departs: 8am, Nelson i-SITE Visitor Centre, Cnr Halifax and Trafalgar Sts, Mondays
Returns: approx 12.30pm, Greymouth, Fridays
Departure dates on demand (minimum four required)
TranzAlpine Train Greymouth to Christchurch $199*.
TranzAlpine should be booked and paid at time of booking your tour.
*Prices correct at time of publishing.