Karamea & Wild West Coast Trails - MoaTours

Discover the byways, history and stories of the West Coast as you travel along miners’ trails to coal and gold rush towns and to where precious pounamu is found. Karamea, Okarito Lagoon and the TranzAlpine train are special highlights.

Departure: 03 Dec 2020, 19 Mar 2021


Day 1: Fly to Nelson – Buller Gorge – Kawatiri Junction – Denniston – Karamea

From Nelson we drive the Buller Gorge to Kawatiri Junction to stroll through a historic railway tunnel and onto Murchison. High on a bleak plateau Denniston stands testament to the resilience of the coalminers and their families who lived in this unforgiving environment. In Karamea The Last Resort Hotel is our home for two nights.

Day 2: Karamea – Heaphy Track – Oparara Basin – Karamea

We have a full day to enjoy getting to know this remote and beautiful north–western tip of the Coast between the Tasman Sea and the rainforests. At the start of the Heaphy Track walk in a nikau forest then visit the Oparara Basin in Kahurangi National Park. We dine at historic Village Karamea Hotel this evening.

Day 3: Karamea – Reefton – Blackball – Brunner – Punakaiki

Explore the back roads to the pretty mining town of Reefton, the first town lit by electric street lights. Blackball, a small town at the foot of the Paparoa Range, is the home of unionism and nearby is the Brunner Mine memorial. We stay two nights at the Punakaiki Resort Hotel on the edge of the Tasman Sea and dine in this evening.

Day 4: Punakaiki – Nile River Rainforest train – Tauranga Bay – Punakaiki

This morning we take an easy stroll out to the sculptured limestone stacks of Punakaiki’s pancake rocks. At Charleston we ride the Nile River Canyon train through the rainforest in Paparoa National Park. Later we visit the seal colony in at Tauranga Bay close to Cape Foulwind before returning down the scenic coastal highway to Punakaiki.

Day 5: Punakaiki – Lake Kaniere – Hokitika Gorge – Hokitika

Follow the pounamu and gold trails of the Arahura River to Blue Spur and onto Lake Kaniere. Many artisans live in Hokitika and there’s an eclectic mix of galleries and shops displaying works in pounamu, gold, glass, paua, copper, stone, ruby rock and even socks. We stay at the Beachfront Hotel for two nights and dine in this evening.

Day 6: Hokitika – Okarito Lagoon – Franz Josef – Ross – Hokitika

We visit Ross, renowned for a 3.09kg gold nugget found there in 1909. At Okarito we take an hour’s cruise on the lagoon looking out for birdlife in untouched wetlands bordered by ancient forest giants. A local guide takes us on a walking tour of this tiny settlement of 30 people. In Franz Josef there’s a 15 minute climb to view the glacier.

Day 7: Hokitika – Greymouth – TranzAlpine train – Christchurch – Fly to Auckland

Travel along country roads to the old gold mining towns of Stafford, Goldsborough and Kumara and onto Monteith’s brewery in Greymouth for lunch. Board the TranzAlpine train for a spectacular journey through the Southern Alps to Christchurch where you are transferred to the airport for your flight home.




  • Accommodation: x nights standard accommodation.
  • Trip Leader: Knowledgeable MoaTours guide.
  • Transport: Return flights from Auckland, comfortable air-conditioned motorcoach (max 18 travellers).
  • Meals: 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 6 dinners.
  • Activities & Attractions: Stay on the seafront at Punakaiki & Hokitika Hotels, Visit Denniston where coal was first mined in 1879, Visit the Oparara Basin in Kahurangi National Park, Ride the Nile River Canyon train at Charleston, View the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Cruise on the Okarito Lagoon in search of birdlife, Visit Franz Josef Glacier village, Take the renowned TranzAlpine train from Greymouth to Christchurch.

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