Coast & Canyons
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D (River crossings, some uneven terrain)
|Start||Nelson Visitor Centre, Cnr Halifax St. & Trafalgar St., 8:00am|
|Finish||Greymouth 12:30pm (approx.)|
See Departures & Availability
Sep 2013: 23
Oct 2013: 7, 21
Nov 2013: 4, 18
Dec 2013: 2, 16, 30
Jan 2014: 13, 27
Feb 2014: 10, 24
Mar 2014: 10, 24
Apr 2014: 7, 21
|Prices||Period 1 Jul 12 - 30 Jun 13|
|Prices||Period 1 Jul 13 - 30 Jun 14|
The Coast and Canyons is the first five days of the West Coast Wilderness.
Maximum 11Back to top
Join tour in Nelson - 11km/4 hours hiking
Your tour begins in Nelson, in the north of the South Island. After collecting food supplies, drive to Motueka and up to Flora Saddle (at 1000 metres). Have an early lunch and organise packs for the first hike. Leaving the vehicle behind, hike through beech forest, following a stream to 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. Stay in an old gold miner’s rock shelter, a great place to get to know each other with introductions around a cosy campfire. LD
Murchison - 15km/7 hours hiking
Early start and a quick breakfast before continuing 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. Climb up through mossy forest to the bush line (1795 metres) for panoramic views of the Nelson region. Return to Flora Saddle and drive to Murchison, this small picturesque rural town is famed for its white water kayaking and rafting. Tonight we have dinner at the local pub (own expense). BL
Paparoa National Park - 8km/4 hours hiking
This morning head out to Cape Foulwind and visit a breeding colony of New Zealand fur seals – once almost hunted to extinction. A short hike to the headland gives a dramatic view of the wild and rocky West Coast After relaxing here for a short while, head south, to begin the 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 the hike learn river-crossing techniques, so prepare to get your boots wet. Collect firewood along the way and set up camp under the massive Ballroom Overhang – a fluviatile cave, carved by river-scouring. BLD
Punakaiki - 12km/6 hours hiking
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). 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. BLD
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, follow the coast to Greymouth, arriving late morning. There is time to have a quick look around and say farewells to fellow travellers continuing on down the coast on the West Coast Wilderness. 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. B
Grading & Fitness
Average 4-5 hours physical activity per day, up to 8-9 hours on longer days.
Pack weights of 10-12kgs (22-26lbs) on some days.
Altitude gains of up to 800m, (2600ft).
Some uneven track surfaces and river crossings.
No multi-day hiking experience necessary.
Agility and fitness required.
You need to be reasonably fit and enthusiastic.
Terrain mostly tracks. Some may be slippery or rough; some off-track hiking and river crossings.
Guides & Safety
An excellent guide can make the difference between a trip of a lifetime and just an ordinary trip. That is why we work hard to make sure we hire the best guides. Our handpicked professionals come from a range of backgrounds. Each has extensive outdoor and hiking experience and a passion for New Zealand’s wild and beautiful backcountry. Our guides will ensure that your time with us is truly inspiring, a huge amount of fun and safe. All guides are trained in Mountain Safety First Aid.
Please be gentle with your guide - good guides are hard to find!
Mark Brabyn (MSc) founded Hiking New Zealand in 1993 (then known as NZ Nature Safaris). He has a Masters in zoology and did research on whale strandings for his thesis. He has assisted with conservation projects around the world including humpback whales in Tonga, southern right whales in the Sub-Antarctic and elephants and chimpanzees in Uganda. Mark has been active in the outdoors all his life, and his interests include tramping, sea kayaking, scuba diving and mountain biking.
Daniel Murphy studied agricultural science and has worked in the tourism industry for several years including in Spain where he managed an adventure lodge. Dan is the General Manager for Hiking New Zealand.
Glenys Erskine is a local South Islander, from Tuatapere. She will most likely take your booking when you call or email our office. She is passionate about the outdoors and has travelled and lived in several countries around the world.
Chris Steel (BVSc) worked as a vet for 20 years before becoming a hiking guide. He is a keen tramper and mountain biker and has a talent for backcountry cooking.
Junaita Miln spent five years in the NZ Army and travelled to Antarctica. She has a National Certificate in Outdoor Recreation. Juanita is a keen tramper and mountaineer.
Scotty Moore previously worked as an Outward Bound Instructor at Anikiwa. Scotty is currently studying towards a degree in Environmental Management and Planning, in his spare time he enjoys speding time with his wife and young son Fin.
John Williamson (BSc) combines guiding in New Zealand with running horse treks in Mongolia during the New Zealand winters. John also works on ecology surveys in the New Zealand back country.
Adrian Daly as well as working as a guide Adrian also teaches yoga. An accomplished mountaineer, Adrian has organised several climbing expeditions to South America and the Himalayas.
Dave Kennedy a keen mountain biker and white water kayaker as well as a hiker. Dave has previously worked in Central America building mountain bike tracks.
Other guides may be used during peak periods.
What to take
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.
Watch the video of our Hiking Safari packing list.
(but highly recommended)
Gaiters, binoculars, gloves/mittens, earplugs, walking poles, camera.
Therm-a-rest sleeping mat, tents, cooking equipment, plates/cutlery, first aid kit, safety equipment and maps.
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.
We have high quality hiking equipment which you can hire for our Hiking Safaris. Please arrange hire gear when you book. Requests for hire equipment must be made at least 5 days before the departure date. Cancellation of gear hire must also occur at least 5 days in advance or no refund will be given.
5-7 day trip (NZ$)
|Polypro top+bottom|| |
|Full set (all of above)|
You will travel in a 10 or 12 seat minibus towing a trailer with camp equipment and your luggage. All vehicles have a public address system, and a stereo with a variety of music. It is also equipped with a range of natural history reference books. The average driving time per day is around 2-3 hours and there will be a range of roads - sealed and unsealed. The guide will often stop the vehicle for you to take photos. On some of the nights you will be camping by the vehicle.Back to top
Everybody is involved with the preparation and cooking of meals: barbecues, salads, pancakes, curries, pasta, stir-fries, hangi...Vegetarian meals are no problem. When you are on overnight hikes the group will usually eat pasta and rice meals. There is always a lot of hiking food - chocolate, peanuts, raisins, biscuits. The vehicles carry a full range of cooking equipment including gas burners, woks, frying pans and billies. When you go on an overnight hike the group will carry a portable stove.Back to top
The Hiking Safaris use a range of accommodation: camping, backcountry huts, cribs (summer house), hostels and cabins. You will generally camp if the weather is fine, so you get to enjoy the outdoors more and it costs you less. In less pleasant weather your guide will arrange accommodation for the group.
Camping - We will camp as much as possible in a range of locations; under natural rock overhangs, on the beach, Department of Conservation campsites, established campgrounds with showers. You are provided with 2-person hiking tents to share and therm-a-rest sleeping mats. You may have a small campfire if fires are permitted.
Huts - Your guide will make use of excellent Department of Conservation huts. They are equipped with mattresses, running water and an outside toilet. Cooking is done on a portable stove. We do not have sole rights to huts and so must share with other hikers. Please be respectful of other hut users.
Cabins/Cribs - When the weather is bad your guide will seek out alternative accommodation. This can be anything that is available, from a private crib (summer house) to a cabin at a campground.
You must be prepared to go for three days (sometimes more) without a hot shower. There is always a river or lake for you to wash in. Some campsites/huts have natural hot pools!
Do we all get involved with camp duties?
Everyone is fully involved with the running of the safari, from collecting firewood, to setting up camp and cooking meals. You are expected to do your share of work. If you are not a great cook, don't worry - your guide and other people in the group will help you.
Does it matter if I am travelling alone?
Most of the people on safaris are travelling alone. The safaris are strong on group activities and participation including playing outdoor games, going for swims, helping one another to cross rivers, explore caves, and overcome obstacles and challenges. We encourage you to participate in activities, but if it's not your thing that is also OK. We allow time for people to be by themselves on safari if they need it.
Can I do more than one safari?
Yes. More and more people are doing connecting safaris covering the whole of New Zealand. We really are the hassle-free way to experience New Zealand's best adventures. Safaris are timed to leave you a couple of days in between trips to get your laundry done, experience some ‘city activities’.
I am travelling and have a lot of stuff that I will not need on the safari - what should I do with it?
You can store it at your accommodation if you plan on returning to the area. Or, you can travel with it on safari. We allow a maximum space of 120 litres per person (1 large pack plus a daypack). Depending how full the safari is, we may require you to forward excess luggage if you exceed this. During overnight hikes everything is locked securely in the vehicle.
What do I do with my valuables (passport, airline tickets, money, etc.) while we are hiking?
Keep them with you in your hiking pack. We pack all those things in plastic bags to keep them dry and keep them with us while we are hiking.
Can I be picked up at my hostel or accommodation?
No. On safari we try to leave the city early so we can spend more time in the wilderness. It is much easier for everyone to meet at a central location - usually the local Visitors Information Centre - and it doesn't cost much to get there on a taxi, shuttle or bus (or walking!).
I'm a vegetarian - is that a problem?
Not at all. We often have vegetarians in the group. All the guides are familiar with vegetarian cooking. We also have lots of excellent vegetarian recipes. Sometimes the whole group will cook vegetarian or we may cook a separate vegetarian meal. The hangi is always a mixture of vegetarian and meat foods. We can also cater for other dietary requirements, but please notify us when you book.
What is the weather going to be like?
New Zealand experiences very changeable weather - especially in the remote mountainous regions where we spend most of our time. Some days we can be broiling in 30 degrees and then the next day we could be freezing in a cool southerly from the sub Antarctic. It is best to be prepared for the worst conditions we are likely to expect - see the 'What To Take' section. We may get some rain on the trip so a good waterproof raincoat is important.
Will I be fit enough?
Our safaris are graded B, C or D. Read the section 'Hiking and Fitness' and choose a trip to suit you. If you are concerned about your fitness get out there and do day hikes in the weeks prior to your safari departure.
Who is in my group?
A small group (maximum 11 people), with a range of ages, nationalities and work backgrounds. Seventy percent of people are between 20 and 40, though we have had people from 17 to 72. On average, half are women and half are men. Everyone shares an enthusiasm for outdoor adventure and an appreciation of nature.
How far in advance do I need to book?
The sooner the better for safaris departing in the peak season (November to April). We get many advance bookings so it is important to book early to avoid disappointment. Availability for our trips is updated regularly on our departure dates page.
What type of gear should I buy?
If you intend to do a lot of hiking then it is worth buying quality equipment - good leather hiking boots and hiking clothing. If you think you might not do any more hiking after safari then you could buy cheaper alternatives - just remember that it won't last as long nor do the job as well. You may also rent certain items from us.
What if I can't keep up with the rest of the group?
We hike together as a group, stopping often for snacks and a good lunch. Some activities are optional if you feel like having some time out.
Are we going to encounter dangerous animals?
New Zealand does not have any snakes, bears, lions or alligators. We have a small poisonous spider called the katipo that is so rare it was recently made a protected species. At certain times of the summer and autumn, wasps can be a problem in some of our beech forests. If you are allergic to them make sure you carry medication, and tell your guide about it at the beginning of the safari. Otherwise, it is great to climb through the bush and lie in the grass without a thing to worry about.
Can I charge my camera/phone/laptop, etc. while on safari?
It is most likely that only one night of this trip is in a place with electricity so you may be able to recharge batteries. If you have a vehicle adapter, bring it along as there may be an opportunity to charge items while we are driving.
Can I do laundry on safari?
It is possible that you will have an opportunity to do laundry, but because of the short duration of this trip, we recommend having enough clothing for the full five days.
Optional activities: TranzAlpine Train Greymouth to Christchurch $190*.
TranzAlpine should be booked and paid at time of booking your tour.
*Prices correct at time of publishing.
For bookings four or more months in advance of the departure a 25% deposit can be paid with the remainder due 65 days prior to your trip. For bookings within four months of the departure, full payment is required.
You can transfer to another safari/ departure as long as it is more than 20 days prior to your pre-booked departure. Transfers within 20 days will require a cancellation and new booking. All transfers are subject to seat availability.
More than 20 days prior to departure - 80% refund of full ticket price
20 to 10 days prior to departure - 50% refund of full ticket price
Less than 10 days prior to departure - NO REFUND
We strongly recommend that you have comprehensive travel insurance. We ask you to fill out a disclaimer before you begin a Hiking Safari. You must follow the instructions of your guide at all times.
World Nomads Travel Insurance provides online quotes.
With any outdoor activity, there is an element of risk. Hiking New Zealand operates in remote and mountainous areas. Risks in undertaking this activity could include hypothermia due to adverse weather conditions, personal injury, or property damage from hiking over rugged and uneven terrain.
The staff and management of Hiking New Zealand take all practicable steps to identify and minimise potential dangers. However you must follow our instructions (and use the safety equipment provided) at all times. Adults accompanying any person under the age of 18 must ensure that the underage person follows our instructions at all times. You must release or indemnify Hiking New Zealand and our staff against any liability we incur to anyone else, resulting from your failure to follow our instructions or the failure of any person accompanying you under the age of 18 to follow our instructions.
Hiking New Zealand and their guides reserve the right to make any alterations to the itinerary in the interest of safety, comfort or unforeseen circumstances due to causes such as weather, illness, or misadventure. Every reasonable endeavour will be made to keep to published schedules but no guarantee is given. Hiking New Zealand will not be held liable for costs incurred by change, delay, or the missing of connecting services.
Hiking New Zealand reserves the right to exclude a person from certain overnight hikes or the rest of the tour at anytime if in the opinion of the guide or operator that person may be likely to risk the health, safety or enjoyment,(including not meeting fitness requirements or unsociable behaviour) of other clients, him or herself, or the environment. In such circumstances Hiking New Zealand will not be obliged to offer any refund or transfer of ticket.