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Thrifty Tours

The Wild West Coast

Begin your journey in Christchurch, the Garden City. Here you can take a punt along the Avon River, or a Tram around the city. The following morning is an early rise as you depart on the famous TranzAlpine through the Southern Alps and into the Wild West Coast. A transfer will be waiting for your arrival to take you down the coast to Franz Josef. In Franz Josef you have a choice of exploring the glacier on a heli-hike or if you prefer to keep your feet in the water then a wilderness kayak might be for you. Recover from your day of adventure and enjoy the vista as you venture back through the Alps to Christchurch!

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Tour summary and feature

Quick Itinerary Details

New Zealand Independent Tour

This suggested tour costs from NZD$3,110 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

5 days/4 nights

Hotel 4 star

 Customisable? YES

 Viewed 26 times in the last 7 days

This tour also includes
- Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Train Station
- Private Transfer Christchurch Train Station to your accommodation
- Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport
4 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner
Tour full itinerary
Detailed Itinerary
The Wild West Coast - Day 1
Welcome to Christchurch City

Christchurch New Zealand's garden city is steadily being transformed into a vibrant urban destination. Encompassing a large green belt, it is known for its wide tree lined avenues and lush gardens. A great way to explore the city or easy way to see the sights or ride the historic trams across town to the renowned botanic gardens and the unique cardboard Transitional Cathedral, that's right it is built of cardboard!

Christchurch Triple Pass - Tram, Punting and Gondola

Experience three of Christchurch's iconic attractions in one day: the Christchurch Tram, Christchurch Gondola, and Punting on the Avon River. The historic tram is a delightful way to explore the evolving inner city, taking in the various sights with the hop-on hop-off pass and learning about the city from the live commentary. You'll also enjoy a bird's eye view of Christchurch and the Canterbury region including the distant peaks of the Southern Alps when you ride the gondola cableway to the top of the Port Hills in Heathcote Valley. Punting on the Avon River takes you through the city's green belt: a relaxing way to explore what is affectionately known as the 'Garden City'.

Christchurch Botanic Gardens - suggestion

Located just 15 minutes from the city centre, Christchurch's 75 acre Botanic Gardens host the finest collection of exotic and indigenous plants to be found anywhere in New Zealand. The impressive collection of plants provide a tranquil oasis, from the spring drifts of daffodils, spectacular summer roses and herbaceous border, stunning autumn leaf display and cosy conservatories to warm up in over winter, there's something to delight in every season. The New Zealand Garden also offers an accessible glimpse into the country’s unique wilderness to lose yourself in throughout the year.

Your accommodation: Heritage Christchurch

The Heritage Christchurch Hotel offers contemporary accommodation in the lovingly and safely restored Old Government Building. It is sited in a great location on Cathedral Square.
Meals included: Breakfast

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The Wild West Coast - Day 2
Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Train Station with Christchurch Touring

A private driver will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to the Christchurch train station in time for your train journey.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Christchurch to Greymouth Scenic Plus

Great Journeys New Zealand's Scenic Plus carriage provides comfort and vast panoramic views, making our TranzAlpine scenic train journey the perfect way to explore coast-to-coast through the 'Great Divide' and the indomitable spine of mountains that partitions New Zealand's South Island. Scenic Plus offers an all-inclusive experience on the unique TranzAlpine scenic rail journey to invigorate all the senses! Feast your eyes on epic scenery while you savour regionally inspired cuisine paired with sumptuous wine and beer all from the comfort of your luxurious seat – a hosted dining experience like no other. Quite simply, we have done everything we can to ensure you feel at peace as you sink back in your seat and soak up the scenery.

Private Transfer with Glacier Shuttles

You will be met at the Greymouth Train Station by a representative from Glacier Shuttles and driven to your accommodation in Franz Josef.

Franz Josef

Franz Josef is the name of the local village and the nearby glacier, the Maori name being Ko Roimata o Hine Hukatere which translates to The Tears of the Ice Maiden,
The main attraction is the rare glacier which is one of three in the world that transcends from alpine into temperate rainforest and almost sea level, New Zealand is home to two, the Franz Josef and Fox Glacier, these are also some of the most accessible in the world which is why they are so popular. The best way to see the glacier is either a scenic flight or for the more adventurous a Heli Hike, you are able to view the glacier by a short 5-minute drive south out of the village and a short easy walk to a viewing platform
As amazing as the glacier is, Franz Josef has plenty more to offer visitors, including adventure activities, an abundance of forest and alpine walking tracks

Your accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Only a breath away from the Franz Josef Glacier, Scenic Hotel is located in the heart of Franz Josef Village. Here you will find all of the amenities you would expect, as well as being close to the shops, restaurants and activities on offer in the beautiful Westland region.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

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The Wild West Coast - Day 3
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Franz Josef Glacier Helihike

After a thrilling scenic flight, high above the rugged terrain, you will land on the glacier, ready to undertake a 2.15 hour guided glacier hike. Your friendly guide will lead you through some of the most pristine and awe-inspiring glacial scenery in the world. Your guide will choose your route carefully as you go and, with an eye for the most spectacular ice formations, you’ll soon be making your way through an extraordinary landscape of towering peaks and glistening blue ice.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Kayak Classic with Franz Josef Wilderness Tours

Glide effortlessly across the water taking in the panoramic views of the Southern Alps, glaciers, and untouched Jurassic rainforest reflected on the glassy waters of Lake Mapourika. Paddle into the heart of the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary, exploring the protected area with your knowledgeable guide.

Walking tracks in and around Franz Josef

There are many walks and hikes in and around Franz Josef. The information below is provided by the Department of Conservation. Located in Franz Josef village is a Department of Conservation information centre and you can get updates on track conditions and suitability plus you can learn about the area, its natural history and its people. Listed below are a selection of short walks but check with the Department of Conservation information centre for weather conditions, track suitability and conditions  first.

Douglas Walk
The Douglas Walk is an easy one-hour forest walk that passes by the Peters Pool viewpoint and crosses several moraines before descending to the bridge across Dolly Creek on the way back to the road.
Category:  Walking track. Completion Time:  1 hr return

Franz Josef Glacier/Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere Walk
The 40-minute walk to the terminal face of the Franz Josef Glacier follows a rocky path over riverbed. Only experienced and prepared visitors should attempt climbing on the glacier.
Category:  Walking track. Completion Time:  1 hr 30 min return

Lake Wombat Track
The Lake Wombat Track leads you through a lush rimu forest to the idyllic Lake Wombat.
Category:  Walking track. Completion Time:  1 hr 30 min

Okarito walking tracks
North of the Franz Josef Township sits the coastal settlement of Okarito and the Okarito Lagoon. The lagoon is home to more than 76 species of native birds including the kōtuku/white heron and royal spoonbills.
Category:  Walking track.

Peters Pool Walk
The spectacular view at Peters Pool includes Franz Josef Glacier/Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere, and the Fritz Range, including Mt Moltke and Mt Roon.
Category:  Easy access walk. Completion Time:  25 min

Sentinel Rock Walk
Just a short distance south of the Franz Josef Township you will come to the Glacier and Sentinel Rock walks. The Sentinel Rock Lookout offers impressive views of the glacier, the valley and Waiho River.
Category:  Short walk. Completion Time:  20 min

Tatare Tunnels Walk
The 80-minute return Tatare Tunnels Walk follows an old 4WD road to a junction with the Callery/Waiho Walk. From there follow the track to the old water tunnels.
Category:  Walking track. Completion Time:  1 hr 20 min return

Terrace Walk
Follow the Terrace Walk as it winds through forest and goes by remnants of past gold mining operations.
Category:  Short walk. Completion Time:  30 min

Your accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Only a breath away from the Franz Josef Glacier, Scenic Hotel is located in the heart of Franz Josef Village. Here you will find all of the amenities you would expect, as well as being close to the shops, restaurants and activities on offer in the beautiful Westland region.
Meals included: Breakfast

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The Wild West Coast - Day 4
Franz Josef to Greymouth with Glacier Shuttles

You will be met at the Greymouth Train Station by a representative from Glacier Shuttles and driven to your accommodation in Franz Josef.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch Scenic Plus

Great Journeys New Zealand's Scenic Plus carriage provides comfort and vast panoramic views, making our TranzAlpine scenic train journey the perfect way to explore coast-to-coast through the 'Great Divide' and the indomitable spine of mountains that partitions New Zealand's South Island. Scenic Plus offers an all-inclusive experience on the unique TranzAlpine scenic rail journey to invigorate all the senses! Feast your eyes on epic scenery while you savour regionally inspired cuisine paired with sumptuous wine and beer all from the comfort of your luxurious seat – a hosted dining experience like no other. Quite simply, we have done everything we can to ensure you feel at peace as you sink back in your seat and soak up the scenery.

Private Transfer Christchurch Train Station to your accommodation

You will be met by a private transfer driver at Christchurch train station who will take you to your Christchurch accommodation. (Look for a driver holding a board displaying your name after arriving into the station.)

Your accommodation: Heritage Christchurch

The Heritage Christchurch Hotel offers contemporary accommodation in the lovingly and safely restored Old Government Building. It is sited in a great location on Cathedral Square.
Meals included: Lunch, Dinner

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The Wild West Coast - Day 5
Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport

A private transfer will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to Christchurch Airport in time for your departing flight.

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