Discover the byways, history and stories of the West Coast as you travel along miners’ trails to coal and gold rush towns and to where precious pounamu is found. Karamea, Okarito Lagoon and the TranzAlpine train are special highlights.
What Tracy loves about this tour:
Your Kiwi guide will bring to life for you the colourful history of this isolated region, the setting for two Booker Prize winning novels – Eleanor Catton’s “The Luminaries” and “The Bone People” by Keri Hulme (a former long time resident of Okarito) and also Jenny Pattrick’s bestsellers, “The Denniston Rose” and “Heart of Coal”.
7 day / 6 night tour departing Auckland, with stays in Karamea, Punakaiki and Hokitika on the stunning West Coast of the South Island
From Nelson we drive the Buller Gorge to Kawatiri Junction to stroll through a historic railway tunnel and onto Murchison. High on a bleak plateau Denniston stands testament to the resilience of the coalminers and their families who lived in this unforgiving environment.
In Karamea The Last Resort Hotel is our home for two nights.
What you'll love today
A glimpse into the lives of the Denniston miners
Arriving in Karamea - the end of the West Coast road
We have a full day to enjoy getting to know this remote and beautiful north–western tip of the Coast between the Tasman Sea and the rainforests. At the start of the Heaphy Track walk in a nikau forest then visit the Oparara Basin in Kahurangi National Park.
We dine at historic Village Karamea Hotel this evening.
Explore the back roads to the pretty mining town of Reefton, the first town lit by electric street lights. Blackball, a small town at the foot of the Paparoa Range, is the home of unionism and nearby is the Brunner Mine memorial.
We stay two nights at the Punakaiki Resort Hotel on the edge of the Tasman Sea and dine in this evening.
Day 4: Punakaiki - Nile River - Tauranga Bay - Punakaiki
We take a short stroll out to the sculptured limestone stacks of Punakaiki’s pancake rocks - they make a dramatic sight and the coastal scenery is wonderful. At Charleston we ride the Nile River Canyon train through the rainforest in Paparoa National Park.
We visit the nearby seal colony close to Cape Foulwind before returning down the scenic coastal highway to Punakaiki.
Follow the pounamu and gold trails of the Arahura River to Blue Spur and onto Lake Kaniere and the Hokitika Gorge. Many artisans live in Hokitika and there’s an eclectic mix of galleries and shops displaying works in pounamu, gold, glass, paua, copper, stone, ruby rock and even socks.
We stay at the Beachfront Hotel for two nights and dine in this evening.
Day 6: Hokitika - Okarito - Franz Josef Glacier - Hokitika
We visit Ross, renowned for a 3.09kg gold nugget found there in 1909. At Okarito we take an hour’s cruise on the lagoon looking out for birdlife in untouched wetlands bordered by ancient forest giants.
A local guide takes us on a walking tour of this tiny settlement of 30 people. In Franz Josef there’s a 15 minute climb to view the glacier. We return to Hokitika and dine in our hotel this evening.