Coast and Canyons Trekking

Coast and Canyons Trekking

Trip Highlights

  • Enjoy spectacular views across the Abel Tasman coastline and the Kahurangi national park, from high above the Tasman Bay
  • Spend your first night camped beneath a limestone overhang on sleeping benches that go back to early explorers
  • Explore backcountry caves and stream beds that have formed the Paparoa national park
  • Take a two day hike through the beach forests of the west coast and experience the emptiness of the backcountry
  • Discover the dramatic Punakaiki coastline with its spectacular blow holes and beaches
  • Relax on the journey back to Christchurch onboard the Tranz Alpine train as it passes through the Southern Alps, optional

Trip Summary

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Discover the northern regions of the South Island through a series of hand selected daywalks exploring superb wilderness settings before recounting your day around the campfire at secluded cave campsites. At Kahurangi National Park, which boasts some of New Zealand's oldest rocks, rarest birds and most exotic plants, you'll trek through beech forest, past limestone sinkholes and across tussock-covered mountain slopes. There is also the option to summit Mt Arthur (1795m) for panoramic views of the Nelson region. Transfer to the coastal forests at Paparoa National Park to enjoy walking through lush rainforest set in a limestone canyon, wade across crystal clear rivers, explore glow-worm caves and enjoy watching the antics of New Zealand fur seal pups at a breeding colony. This is a true wilderness lover's adventure as you sleep out beneath limestone overhangs in native forest settings, learn river-crossing skills and swim in New Zealand's beautiful, clear rivers. This tour easily links with our Glaciers and West Coast Trekking itinerary.

Trip Grading

Average 4-5 hours physical activity per day, up to 8-9 hours on longer days.

Pack weights of 12-15kgs on some days. Altitude gains of up to 800m. Some uneven track surfaces and river crossings. No hiking experience necessary. Agility and fitness required. You need to be reasonably fit and enthusiastic. Some tracks may be slippery or rough; some off-track hiking and river crossings.


Joining instructions: You will need to make your own way to Nelson i-SITE Visitor Centre, Cnr Halifax and Trafalgar St by 8:00am on the first day of the tour. Just look out for a Hiking NZ van and your guide. 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 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. Stay in an old gold miner’s rock shelter, a great place to get to know each other with introductions around a cosy campfire. 11km/4 hours hiking

Meals:  L,D

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 and then onwards to Gordon’s Pyramid (1489 metres). 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. Return to Flora Saddle and drive to Murchison, this small picturesque rural town is famed for its white water kayaking and rafting. 15km/7 hours hiking

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning head out to Cape Foulwind and visit a breeding colony of New Zealand fur seals – once almost hunted to extinction. Head 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, 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. 8km/4 hours hiking

Meals:  B,L,D

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. 12km/6 hours hiking

Meals:  B,L,D

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. 5km/2 hours hiking

Meals:  B

What's Included

  • Professional guide and transport
  • 3 nights camping, 1 night cottage accommodation
  • All breakfasts, lunches and dinners
  • Therm-a-rest sleeping mat
  • Tents
  • Cooking equipment, plates/cutlery
  • First aid kit, safety equipment and maps
  • NZ Goods and Servies Tax (GST)

What's Not Included

  • Personal expenses
  • Sleeping bag, backpack, thermal top and long-johns, rain jacket, fleece jacket, gaiters and walking poles - all can be hired if needed. Speak to our sales team pre tour
  • Gratuities, tipping is not expected in NZ but gratefully received


Duration:5 Days
Starting Point:Nelson
Activities:5 days hiking
Grade:Moderate  Click for more information
Trip Code:CCY
Prices From:NZD$1250