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Drive from Nelson to Hokitika?

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Hello,

We had originally planned to stay in Punakaiki and drive from Abel Tasman to Punakaiki in one day so as to leave ourselves enough time to enjoy the journey. But at this point the only good accommodation I found for our travel date is near Hokitika. Would it be too rushed if we made an early start? We do want to make stops at must-see places along the way (suggestions welcome). So far I have Buller Gorge, Cape Foulwind and Punakaiki.

The next day we drive to Franz Josef. If we do stay in Hokitika, are there any scenic drives we must do before we start off? I imagine we could leave around 2 pm and still make Franz Josef by about 6. I have read about the gorge and Lake Mahinapua, Okarito or even driving up to Arthur's Pass and back. Which would be the best for our first time on the South Island?

Thanks very much!

Vasu

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