Are you a glutton for sun, fun and beaches? Come on the Top of the West & Golden Bay Tour and get your fill of them all!
Starting your holiday with a stay in the alps at the Wilderness Lodge, then a ride on the famous Tranzalpine Express to the rugged West Coast, where you will stop to view the blowholes at Pancake Rock. Next you’ll catch the Nile River Rainforest train through the Nile River Canyon where you can view the limestone formations. Moving on from there will be a walk to Cape Foulwind to view seals in their environment.
Once in sunny Nelson we take you for lunch with wonderful views at the top of Takaka Hill on the way to Golden Bay.
And it quite literally is Golden Bay. There are bright gold sandy beaches and clear water for swimming. We’ll venture out to Farewell Spit, the longest sandspit in New Zealand, first seen by Abel Tasman in 1640. We will lunch at the spit and visit galleries, gardens and local sights there and back to Pohara.
Lastly we lunch in Nelson and visit the ‘World of Wearable Arts’ and Classic Car Museum for some not to be missed wonderfully unique, and quirky creations.
You won’t want to miss the fabulous scenery all the way from Christchurch over the Alps to the West Coast, and up to Golden Bay. Better get your bags packed and be on the way!
Christchurch - Wilderness Lodge (L, D) - Wilderness Lodge - TranzAlpine - Greymouth - Punakaiki (B, L, D) - Punakaiki - Nile River Canyon rainforest train - Buller Gorge - Nelson (B, L, D) - Nelson - Takaka Hill - Pohara Beach (B, L, D) - Golden Bay sightseeing (B, L, D) - Pohara Beach - Mapua - Nelson (B, L)
Your driver/guide meets you in Christchurch. We lunch at Untouched World Café before driving across the Canterbury Plains and into magnificent alpine scenery. The Wilderness Lodge sits at the heart of Cora Lynn station and is owned and operated by Dr Gerry McSweeny and Anne Saunders with links to the Forest and Bird society. There is time to relax in this spectacular location before we dine in at the lodge this evening
After breakfast your driver/guide transfers you to the TranzAlpine railway station to journey through the alps and Otira Tunnel to Greymouth. Lunch at Shantytown with time to wander through this replica of an 1860s gold mining town. The beautiful coastal road to Punakaiki follows part of ancient greenstone trails used by Maori for centuries in search of Pounamu.We visit the leading local attraction – the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, sculpted limestone stacks and towering cliffs. If the tide is high, blowholes will be spreading clouds of spray. There’s an interesting craft shop nearby featuring a local artist. Dine in this evening in your hotel’s Jacob restaurant.
Heading north to Charleston to catch the Nile River rainforest train alongside the Nile River. This open train recreates the old bush trams era as you travel in the Nile River canyon to enjoy the fanstastic limestone formations and stunning primeval rainforest of the Paparoa National Park. At Tauranga Bay a 5 minute walk takes us to great views of the seal colony near Cape Foulwind. We lunch nearby at the Town House Café in Westport. Then our route takes us up the rugged Buller Gorge and through farmlands to Murchison and Nelson. We dine in at the hotel’s restaurant.
We tour through the orchards of Motueka to Takaka Hill where we stop for morning tea with Denise and David Hall in their home right on top of the hill – the views are breathtaking. Later we drive down to Golden Bay and take a short stroll to view beautiful Te Waikoropupu (Pupu) Springs where the world’s purest water bubbles up from deep in the earth. We stay on the Pohara beachfront and dine nearby in the relaxed ambience of Reto and Vera Balzer’s San Souci Inn.
Touring the delightful local sights, galleries and gardens of Golden Bay, including Betty Manson’s lovely Matuku Farm Garden, a garden of National Significance. We lunch at Paddle Crab Kitchen with views out to Farewell Spit. In the late afternoon we return to the golden sands of Pohara Beach to relax and refresh before dining across the road at the Penguin Café.
After a leisurely breakfast and perhaps a swim at the beach we drive back over the hill to Nelson to our farewell lunch on the water’s edge at The Apple Shed Cafe, Mapua. We visit the World of Wearable Art and Classic Cars Museum – an amazing collection of clothes and cars that has to be seen to be believed.
Top of the West (five nights/six days)
14 March - 19 March 2015
$NZ3,190 per person twin/double share
$NZ3,590 single room accommodation
Christchurch ~ Wilderness Lodge ~ TranzAlpine ~ Punakaiki ~ Nelson ~ Golden Bay ~ Nelson
~ Dine in the mountains at the Wilderness Lodge, Arthur's Pass
~ TranzAlpine rail travel
~ Entrance to Shanty Town and visit the WOW® & Classic Cars Museum
~ Admire the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks in Paparoa National Park
~ Visit Waikoropupu Springs - the World's purest water
~ Lunch at Paddle Crab Kitchen in Golden Bay with views to Farewell Spit