World Heritage Wanderer

New Zealand, South Island Camping Hiking Kayaking

The World Heritage area in Southern Westland is a journey through the wilds and you are immediately reminded of the rigours early pioneers must have faced.

Kayak across New Zealand’s largest unmodified wetland and up the river delta among towering kahikatea trees. Help prepare and then eat a hangi meal on Okarito beach.

Join a guided glacier hike on Fox Glacier and explore seracs, ice caves and crevasses. Hike up the Copland Valley and spend two nights soaking in natural hotpools, gazing at 3000-metre peaks.

This amazing week ends in the adventure capital of New Zealand – Queenstown.

The World Heritage Wanderer is the last seven days of the West Coast Wilderness.

7 Day Guided Hike Itinerary

DAY 1 – Join Tour in Greymouth or Christchurch

You can begin your journey in either Greymouth or Christchurch.

From Christchurch, catch the TranzAlpine Train across the fertile farmland of the Canterbury Plains, through the impressive Waimakariri Gorge, over huge viaducts and the lush forests of Arthur’s Pass National Park. The 223 kilometre journey takes just over four hours.

Arriving in Greymouth, you will meet fellow hikers who have just finished the northern part of the West Coast Wilderness. The drive in the afternoon travels through the quirky towns of the West Coast, each loaded with history and stories.

Our home for the next two nights is the sleepy little village of Okarito. After pitching tents in the quaint campground, feel free to stretch your legs before dinner along Okarito’s wild beach.

Includes breakfast and dinner.

DAY 2 – Okarito

Kayak 4 hours (10 km)

Start the day by exploring the areas main attraction – the exceptional Okarito Lagoon.

Here you can observe some of New Zealand’s famous native birds, including white herons and tui, all from the comfort of your sea kayak. Paddle up secluded river channels where 60m native Kahikatea trees tower above you, and admire the snow capped Southern Alps in the distance.

After lunch, feel free to walk one of the easy tracks nearby that wind through coastal rainforest and up to great viewpoints, walk along the beach, or simply relax around camp.

Dinner tonight is cooked underground in a hangi – a traditional Maori method of cooking. This process is enjoyed by the whole group, from preparation to consumption! Let the night take hold with a bonfire on the beach.

Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.

DAY 3 – Fox Glacier

Hike 4 hours (10 km)

This morning we make the short drive to the tourist village of Fox Glacier. One of the only glaciers in the world that descends into rainforest.

Either join the guide for a hike up through the rainforest to a spectacular viewpoint of the glacier, then afterwards we hike up to the terminal face of the glacier itself, a chance to see close up the effects rapidly advancing and retreating glaciers have had on this amazing landscape.

If you want to get onto the ice, take the option of a guided heli hike with a local guiding company. Get kitted out with crampons for your boots before flying up onto the mid section of the glacier. Marvel at the ice carved landscape, towering seracs and deep crevasses. This is an incredibly unique alpine experience with incredible views (and photo opportunities) of some of New Zealand’s highest mountain peaks.

In the afternoon we hike around Lake Matheson, the mountains and rainforest are often mirrored in the waters of the lake, so have your camera ready. Tonight we stay in comfortable cabins near the start of the Copland Track.

Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.

DAY 4 – Welcome Flat

Hike 7 hours (18 km)

This morning we begin our three-day sojourn up the Copland Valley.

The track meanders along the glacially fed Copland River, over side streams and through ancient podocarp forest.

Enjoy a picnic lunch beside the river and try to spot endangered blue duck swimming in the rapids. The walk finishes at the salubrious Welcome Flat Hut. Explorers named this area Welcome Flat thanks to the natural hot pools nearby.

After dinner slip into one of the pools and soak away the days efforts while admiring the jagged peaks of the Sierra Range.

Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.

DAY 5 – Welcome Flat

Hike 4 hours (8 km)

Today you can choose to relax around the hut, take a short walk on your own up the valley or join the guide for an exploration up one of the stunning side streams above the hut.

Boulder hopping up the stream, you will eventually reach a brilliant alpine waterfall where the bold can have a shower, or swim in the pool below.

Have a picnic lunch as you dry out on the rocks and enjoy the views of the valley below. On a clear day the top of New Zealand’s highest mountain – Aoraki/Mt Cook is clearly visible to the east.

Descend back down the stream to the hut, and ease back into the hot pools whenever you fancy.

Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.

DAY 6 – Haast

Hike 6 hours (18 km)

Today we wander out of the Copland Valley and drive south once more, stopping at a local salmon farm to grab a coffee at their café and pick up our dinner!

We also pull into Knights Point for the great cliff top views and Ships Creek, where the native Hectors Dolphin can sometimes be seen from the beach.

The last night is spent camping in the remote town of Haast. Here we enjoy a fresh salmon dinner, cooked on the fire, before heading down to the local pub.

Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.

DAY 7 – Tour Ends in Queenstown

Hike 2-5 hours (3-8 km)

Finally it’s time to leave the rugged West Coast and turn inland, driving over the dramatic Haast Pass, one of the last mountain routes to be opened in New Zealand. This road also borders the edge of Mt. Aspiring National Park.

We stop along the way to hike up past Diamond Lake to Rocky Mountain – a huge rock massif shaped by glaciers thousands of years ago. The summit offers stunning views of Lake Wanaka, it’s islands and the surrounding peaks.

After our hike, we pull into a secluded bay on the lake for lunch and one last swim. The road then takes us between the edges of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea and conveniently passes by the historical Cardrona Pub.

Enjoy a drink in the garden bar before we drive over the steep and stunning Crown Range and into the electric atmosphere of Queenstown. Get glammed up and hit the town for a group dinner somewhere special.

Includes breakfast and lunch.

Back to Top

Start & Finish


Greymouth Railway Station, 1:00pm or Christchurch Railway Station, 8:00am


Queenstown 7:00pm (approximately)


 01 JUL 2014
30 JUN 2015
01 JUL 2015
30 JUN 2016
Optional TranzAlpine trainNZ$199NZ$199

Health & Fitness


  • Average of 4-5 hours physical activity per day, up to 8-9 hours on longer days
  • Pack weights up to 10-12kgs (22-26 lbs)
  • Altitude gains of up to 800m
  • Hiking mostly on tracks, some may be slippery or rough
  • Some off track hiking and river crossings
  • No multi-day hiking experience necessary
  • Agility and fitness required
  • You need to be reasonably fit and enthusiastic

Guides & Safety

An excellent guide can make the difference between a trip of a lifetime and just an ordinary trip.

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.

The guides will ensure that your trip is truly inspiring, a huge amount of fun and safe.

All guides are trained in Mountain Safety First Aid.

What To Take

New Zealand’s weather is changeable and extremely cold weather can be experienced at any time of year, especially in the mountains. 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.

Essential Items

  • Hiking boots (not shoes)
  • Backpack (at least 60 litres capacity)
  • 3-season sleeping bag
  • Waterproof raincoat (gore-tex or similar)
  • Warm fleece/wool jersey (not cotton)
  • Shorts for hiking
  • Polypro/thermals – top and bottom
  • 3 pairs of socks (they get wet)
  • Warm hat or balaclava
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Drink bottle (1 litre)
  • Spare shoes or sandals
  • Flashlight/head lamp
  • Insect repellent (sandflies like foreign blood)
  • Spare set of clothes
  • Gloves/mittens

Optional items (but highly recommended)

  • Gaiters
  • Binoculars
  • Earplugs
  • Walking poles,
  • Camera,
  • Day pack


  • Therm-a-rest sleeping mats
  • tents
  • backpack liner (plastic bag)
  • cooking equipment
  • plates/cutlery
  • first aid kit
  • safety equipment
  • maps


There is an allowance of 120 litres per person (one large pack plus one day pack). You may be required to forward excess luggage if you exceed this.

If you can’t easily carry all your gear without falling over, then you have too much! Any gear you do not need while hiking can be locked in the custom-built trailer.

Equipment Hire

You may hire high-quality hiking equipment for use on your safari.

Please arrange hire gear when you book. Requests for hire equipment must be made at least 5 days before the departure date.

Hire Gear NZ$7-11 day trip
Backpack (60 litres)$50
Sleeping Bag$50
Fleece Jacket$20
Thermal Top and Long Johns$20
Full set (all of the above)$140
Walking pole (each)$20


Wild nights” vs nights in civilization

The safari is a combination of “wild nights”, which is the nights where you are truly in the wilderness, staying in backcountry  huts or camping in locations that may be several hours walk from the nearest road or populated area.

Versus nights in civilization where you may stay in cabins, lodges or camp by the vehicle at Department of Conservation campsites.

Some of these locations may still be relatively remote and in the wilderness but they can be reached by the vehicle.


New Zealand has an excellent network of backcountry huts and you will stay in huts on several nights. They are equipped with mattresses, running water and an outside toilet. Cooking is done on a portable stove. Huts are only accessible on foot and shared with other hikers. You also have the option of camping near the hut if that is your preference.


You will camp in a range of campsites, on the “wild nights” you may camp under natural rock shelters, on remote beaches or even sleep out under the stars! On the non “wild nights” you will camp near the vehicle in Department of Conservation campsites. If the weather is not great for camping, eg very wet, stormy or cold conditions your guide will seek out alternative accommodation, eg lodge, cabin or crib.


You will stay in lodge type accommodation on some of the nights, the lodges are often conveniently located near the start or end of a hike and have multishare  and sometimes twin/double rooms.


Some nights may be spent in private cribs (summer house) or cabins at a campground. Staying in the cribs is a real authentic New Zealand experience and you may even start to feel like a kiwi  on holiday!

Bathroom Facilities

On the wild nights there will be long drop (pit) toilets. There will be rivers or lakes nearby for washing, and sometimes there is even natural hot pools!

The safaris are set up so after a couple of nights of “roughing it” in the wilderness, you will stay somewhere where you can enjoy a shower and a few home comforts (including laundry facilities) before the next foray into the wild!


As well as being the time to rest, refuel and recharge, meal times are also a great time to get to know your fellow travellers better, sit back and enjoy the amazing surroundings and enjoy some great food!

Everybody has a turn with the preparation and cooking of meals: barbecues, salads, pancakes, curries, pasta, stir-fries, hangi… Vegetarian meals are no problem.

On the “wild nights” the group will usually eat pasta and rice meals (special “secret” recipes used). There is always a lot of hiking food – chocolate, nuts, raisins, biscuits.

The vehicles carry a full range of cooking equipment including gas burners, woks, frying pans and billies (cooking pot). When you go on an overnight hike the group will carry a portable stove.


The average driving time per day varies, some days you are in the wilderness and won’t see the vehicle for 2 or 3 days! On other days you might be in the vehicle for 2-3 hrs. The driving time is a chance to rest and enjoy the fantastic scenery which is forever changing.

You will travel in a 12 seat minibus towing a custom-built trailer with camp equipment and your luggage.

All vehicles have a public address system, and a stereo. They are also equipped with a range of natural history reference books.

There will be a range of roads – sealed and unsealed.

The guide will often stop the vehicle if there is a great photo opportunity or primo ice cream shop!

Additional Costs

Optional activities:

  • TranzAlpine train Greymouth to Christchurch (NZ$199*)
  • Okarito kayaking (NZ$60*),
  • Heli Hike (NZ$399*)

*Prices are correct at time of publishing.

Optional activities are paid for during the trip.


Does everyone 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, exploring secret places, and overcoming obstacles and challenges. You are encouraged to participate in activities, but if it’s not your thing that is also OK. Time is allowed 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. This really is 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 and experience some ‘city activities’.

What do I do with my valuables (passport, airline tickets, money, etc.) while hiking?

Keep them with you in your hiking pack. You can pack all those things in plastic bags to keep them dry and keep them with you while hiking.

I’m a vegetarian – is that a problem?

Not at all. There are often vegetarians in the group. All the guides are familiar with vegetarian cooking. There are lots of excellent vegetarian recipes and sometimes the whole group will cook vegetarian or a separate vegetarian meal may be cooked. The hangi is always a mixture of vegetarian and meat foods. Other dietary requirements can be catered for as well, but please notify when you book.

What is the weather going to be like?

New Zealand experiences very changeable weather – especially in the remote mountainous regions where you will spend most of your time. Some days you can be broiling in 30 degrees and then the next day you could be freezing in a cool southerly from the sub Antarctic. It is best to be prepared for the worst conditions you are likely to expect – see the ‘What to Take’ section. You may get some rain on the trip so a good waterproof raincoat is important.

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 there are sometimes 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.

What if I can’t keep up with the rest of the group?

The group hikes together, stopping often for snacks and a good lunch. Some activities are optional if you feel like having some time out.

Can I charge my camera/phone/laptop, etc. while on safari?

About two or three times per safari you stay at places that have electricity so you will be able to recharge batteries. If you have a vehicle adapter, bring it along as there may be an opportunity to charge items while driving.

Can I do laundry on safari?

Yes, at least once, usually half way through the safari. It is recommended that you bring items that are quick drying and plenty of spare pairs of socks and underwear, since you will most likely have to line-dry clothing.

Booking Conditions


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.


  • 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

Travel Insurance

We suggest clients take out a comprehensive travel insurance.

World Nomads Travel Insurance provides online quotes.

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River crossings, some uneven terrain
Backcountry huts and camping

7 days


River crossings, some uneven terrain


Backcountry huts and camping


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The places were breathtaking; the guide, John, was a super friendly,
professional but down to earth "kiwi"
who really knew what he was talking about.
The other hikers were like-minded adventurous people
whom we had a great time with.

Ezequiel M
May 2012