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Experience Plus - Bicycle Tours since 1972
South Island West Coast Tour (TourzPlus™)
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Bicycle Tours in New Zealand: South Island West Coast Tour (TourzPlus™)

Bicycle past picture-perfect West Coast glaciers and lakes, over Haast Pass and down to Wanaka and Queenstown, the bungy jumping capital of New Zealand.

Learn more about our TourzPlus™ partner tours and how they differ from regular ExperiencePlus! bicycle tours.

Day 1: Meet in Christchurch

Highlights: Pancake Rocks & blow holes

We meet in Christchurch and transfer by van to Punakaiki mid-afternoon. There will be time for a short ride along the way and to explore the fascinating Pancake Rocks and watch the sea surge through blow holes.

Day 2: Punakaiki to Hokitika

Highlights: Jade and glass-blowing shops in Hokitika, coastal views

We head south to Greymouth, the principal town of Westland. Named after Sir George Grey, New Zealand's first Governor, it was the site of Mawhera, the largest Maori settlement on the West Coast. From here it is a flat run to Hokitika, a town famous for its goldrush in the 1860's. It is now supported by timber milling, greenstone (jade) and glass-blowing factories.

Bicycling Options:

Punakaiki to Greymouth: 44 km / 28 mi.

Punakaiki to Hokitika: 84km / 52.5 mi.

Day 3: Hokitika to Whataroa

Highlights: Lake Ianthe, Mt Hercules

Much of the ride today is through native bush. The tavern at Lake Ianthe is well worth a stop, as is beautiful Lake Ianthe, renowned for trout fishing. Harihari is a small logging town and has an excellent craft shop. Shortly after leaving Harihari we tackle Mt Hercules, a far easier climb than the name suggests.

Bicycling Options:

Hokitika to Lake Ianthe tavern: 49km / 31 mi.

Hokitika to Whataroa: 85.5 km / 53 mi.

Day 4: Whataroa to Fox

Highlights: Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, Westland National Park

It is a flat run into Westland National Park and Franz Josef Glacier where you will have superb views of snowcapped peaks. From Franz to Fox (24 km) there are three climbs (and descents) through beautiful native forest, a spectacular way to finish the day.

Bicycling Options:

Whataroa to Franz Josef: 50km / 31 mi.

Whataroa to Fox Glacier: 74 km / 46 mi

Day 5: Rest Day in Fox

Highlights: Glacier walks, Okarito Beach and seal colonies

A walk up the glacier valley gives spectacular views of the terminal ice, while the Westland National Park Visitors Centre houses a wealth of information. (Thirteen percent of New Zealand is national park.) Also highly recommended are ski-plane or helicopter flights over snowfields, forests and glaciers. Okarito Beach, site of Abel Tasmans landfall and once a thriving town, is a further option, as is the seal colony at neighbouring Gillespies Beach.

Day 6: Fox to Lake Moeraki

Highlights: Views of Mt. Cook and the Southern Alps

From Fox to Lake Moeraki the road passes through lush rain forest of rimu and rata, flax filled swamps and past rugged hills. The many rivers become raging torrents after rain. With fine weather there will be superb views of Mt. Cook and the Southern Alps.

Bicycling Options:

Fox Glacier to Bruce Bay: 48km / 30 mi.

Fox Glacier to Salmon Farm: 65km / 41 mi.

Fox Glacier to Lake Moeraki: 90 km / 56 mi.

Day 7: Lake Moeraki to Makarora

Highlights: Basking seals, Haast River valley, native birds & waterfalls

Just south of Lake Moeraki, Knights Point affords excellent views of the rugged coastline where seals can often be seen basking in the sun. From Haast we head inland, following the Haast River towards the snowcapped peaks. We pass innumerable waterfalls and much bird life, notably keas, fantails and bellbirds. After lunch at Depot Creek the stiff climb through the Gates of Haast is negotiated before the gentle descent to Makarora.

Bicycling Options:

Lake Moeraki to Haast: 30 km / 19 mi.

Lake Moeraki to Haast Pass: 81km / 51 mi.

Lake Moeraki to Makaroa: 112 km / 70 mi.

Day 8: Makarora to Lake Wanaka

Highlights: Views of Lakes Hawea and Wanaka

The country is now dramatically drier, dense bush giving way to open sheep paddocks. The road closely follows Lake Wanaka, crosses the Neck to Lake Hawea and then recrosses to Lake Wanaka.

Bicycling Options:

Makarora to Hawea: 50 km / 31 mi.

Makarora to Wanaka: 66 km / 41 mi.

Day 9: Lake Wanaka to Queenstown

Highlights: Views of The Remarkables, the Crown Range and Queenstown

Our route today takes us up the Crown Range, over the Cardrona Road. We climb past the historic Cardrona Hotel; on reaching the top there will be amazing views of The Remarkables mountains and Queenstown. We descend the exhilarating hairpin bends down to Arrowtown, with its quaint old cottages and avenues of elms. A short leisurely ride beneath Coronet Peak, a winter ski field, takes us to Arthur's Point where we cross the Shotover River on our way to Queenstown. Surrounded by mountain peaks (including the famous Remarkables), and set on Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown has much to offer.

Bicycling Options:

Wanaka to Cardrona Hotel: 27km / 17 mi.

Wanaka to Queenstown via Cardrona: 78km / 49 mi.

Day 10: Tour ends in Queenstown

Highlights:

After breakfast we must say farewell, a safe journey home and hope to see you again.
  • Highlights
    The Southern Alps, A night on a sheep station, 3 national parks, Queenstown, Christchurch
  • Includes
    Use of a quality 27-speed bicycle, 10 days, 9 nights accommodation, 7 dinners, 5 lunches, & 9 breakfasts
  • Countries
    New Zealand
  • Begin/End
    Christchurch/Queenstown
  • Arrive/Depart
    Christchurch Int'l Airport (CHC) / Queenstown Airport (ZQN)
  • Total Distance
    282-594 km (176-321 miles)
  • Daily Distance
    30-117 km (19-73 miles)
  • What to Expect
    Some long days with shuttle options for those who want shorter or intermediate mileage.
  • Rating
  • Notes
  • Terms
Dates Price Single
Supplement*
Next
Step
Dec 05 - 14, 2014 NZ$4670 NZ$895 Book It
Jan 12 - 21, 2015 NZ$4670 NZ$895 Book It
Mar 01 - 10, 2015 NZ$4670 NZ$895 Book It
*We are happy to match solo travelers who would like to share a room with someone of the same gender. If no match exists, due to hotel pricing, we will charge 50% of the single supplement rate. This fee will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available this fee will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.

Click on the "pins" for details about each day's highlights.

Map Key

Green pinStart
Yellow pinCity (on route)
Red pinEnd
Other city dotCity (not part of route, provided for reference)
[My favorite memories are ] climbing Haast Pass and flying down the other side, staying with Helen and Davey Mavor, sheep farmers and hosts extraordinaire, winding through the Catlins and up the final climb before Papatowai (which is an incredible place and should have a layover day!), stumbling on Maori sheep shearers and having Bill (our great guide)arrange for us to see the real, unsanitized deal... Hard to pick just one favorite.It was also great that the group (by then 5 of us) were flexible enough to bag the last partial day of riding so we could go to the yellow-eyed penguin reserve, which was arranged on the fly for us at our request.
Nancy C.
Salt Lake City, UT