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New Zealand South Island Intinerary - Looking for feedback!

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I've looked at a lot of itinerary's for New Zealand and came up with the start of mine. I'd appreciate any feedback you can give. We have some long days, but it's tough to eliminate things to do!!! I need a few more weeks (not an option!). We will be arriving in mid May. Thanks!


Monday : arrive Christchurch 3:00 p.m.
Monday night - Christchurch
Tuesday : a.m. – look around Christchurch
Late a.m. – drive to Franz Josef, stop along the way (4.5 hrs without stopping)
Tuesday night – Franz Josef
Wednesday: a.m. – hike into glacier – 3 hr round trip
p.m. – drive to Wanaka – stop along the way, hike blue pools (3.5 hrs without stopping)
Wednesday night – Wanaka
Thursday: a.m. – hike in Aspiring National Park – Rob Roy Glacier (6 hr total, including drive)
p.m. – Drive to Te Anau (3 hours without stopping) – stop at Arrowtown
Thursday night – TeAnau
Friday: Spend the day around TeAnau – hike, glow worms, movie
Friday night – Te Anau
Saturday: Doubtful Sound (maybe Milford instead)
Saturday night – Te Anau
Sunday: Drive to Queenstown (2 hours), spend the day poking around, maybe Glenorchy?
Sunday night – Queenstown
Monday: Fly home – noon flight

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    Hi 12kelsy,

    I love your route but you really aren't allowing yourselves enough time to drive between places, for example to drive on consecutive day from C/C to FJ, then from FJ to Wanaka, then from Wanaka to Te Anau and do hikes and other sightseeing in between is just too much.

    We started off with an itinerary a bit like that [though less aggressive] and we soon realised that it was impossible and changed it so that it involved far less driving.

    I think that you can still do most of what you want, but you need to rejig it a bit, e.g.:

    Monday : arrive Christchurch 3:00 p.m.sleep C/C
    Tuesday : a.m. – look around Christchurch for an hour or so, drive to FJ. Sleep FJ
    Wednes : FJ - hikes, drive to lake, etc. sleep FJ.
    Thursday: Drive to Wanaka a.m. – hike in Aspiring National Park – Rob Roy Glacier (6 hr total, including drive) sleep Wanaka.
    Friday: Drive to QT via Arrowtown. explore QT in pm.
    Saturday -Glenorchy. Sleep QT
    Sunday: Day trip to Te Anau [Doubtful sounds requires less driving] sleep QT
    Sunday night – Queenstown
    Monday: Fly home – noon flight

    This way you get a whole day at the glaciers and a two night stay, then one night in Wanaka and 3 in QT, as opposed to 3 one night stands in a row which is bad enough in itself but with long drives in between will just about wipe you out.

    NZ is gorgeous but you need to give yourselves time to see it!

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    Hi Kelsey -

    I count 8 nights, is that correct?

    Days in May are pretty short - sunrise is around 7 am, sunset around 5:30 pm. This will have a big effect on your plans, as you don't want to be driving at night - you'll miss the scenery - and NZ is all about the scenery!

    annhig has give you some good info, but I respectfully disagree with the feasibility of Thursday. The drive will take at least five hours, and that doesn't take into account the hike to the Blue Pools, or stopping at waterfalls or scenic overlooks, let alone possible weather related delays.

    From Wanaka, it's another hour's drive to the start of the Rob Roy Track (note that driving this road is a rental car violation, and is slow going due to all the fords one must cross, particularly after rain). And then the track itself is 10 km, 3-4 hours. That's at least a nine hour day, not including the hour it'll take to return to Wanaka, or all those potential stops en route, or finding your way around in the first place...and approximately 10 hours of daylight.

    Doubtful Sound is definitely a shorter drive day, but it's a longer day overall. Both Milford and Doubtful are full day commitments.

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    Melnq8 did you a big favor reminding you of sunrise/sunset times, the variability of May weather and possibility of delays and road closures, and to check your rental car agreement to make sure you can drive to the start of the Rob Roy Track.

    Here are the restrictions for taking an Apex rental car off-road. I cite Apex because it's popular, because my husband and I have rented with them many times, and because I think their policies are fairly typical.
    "Can I take an Apex vehicle off-road?
    "Apex rental vehicles must not be operated off-road, on any beach, including Ninety Mile Beach and Te Paki stream bed, or driven on farm paddocks. ALL vehicles (including 4WD vehicles) are prohibited from driving on ALL 4WD tracks. The following roads are also specifically excluded: Skippers Canyon, the road to Macetown, Tasman Valley Road (also known as Old Ball Road), Matukituki Road beyond the Treble Cone access road turn off, Glenorchy-Paradise Road beyond Priory Road turn off."

    The part that concerns you is "Matukituki Road beyond the Treble Cone access road turn off."
    http://www.apexrentals.co.nz/new-zealand-car-hire-faq.aspx

    Alpine Connexions also provides track transport to Mt. Aspiring Park:
    http://alpineconnexions.co.nz/Connexions/scheduled-service/aspiring-national-park-tramping-shuttle/

    Wanaka's beautiful and there are a lot of other walks you can do that won't involve violating your car rental agreement. Have a look at this brochure:
    http://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/otago/wanaka-outdoor-pursuits-brochure.pdf

    Before you set out on any hikes, check at local I-Site information or Dept. of Conservation (DOC) offices to make sure the tracks you're planning on walking are okay. In Wanaka, these offices are both in the center of town.

    Your Wednesday and Thursday are looking too busy, though if the weather is poor, you might not be doing as much hiking as you planned so this might free up your days a bit. Otherwise, I think you might have to cut a night from Te Anau, and maybe settle on visiting Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound, rather than both.

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    Thank you all for your great feedback, very helpful! Below is "take 2" of my itinerary if you care to comment!!! (BTW, we will have 7 nights in NZ). A few additional questions if you don't mind! 1. Probably a dumb question, but is there enough to do to fill a day at Franz Josef without a lot of driving? We are not interested in the heli-hike. 2. I am leaning towards more time in Te Anau vs Queenstown. We are not touristy people and won't be bungy jumping or the like, so it seems that Te Anau may be a better fit for us. Am I off base on this? 3. Any opinion on Doubtful vs Milford Sound? If we did Milford, we would drive ourselves. Thanks again and here is "take 2":


    Monday : arrive Christchurch 3:00 p.m.
    Monday night - Christchurch
    Tuesday : a.m. – look around Christchurch, leave by 9:00 a.m.
    a.m./p.m. – drive to Franz Josef, stop along the way
    Tuesday night – Franz Josef
    Wednesday: a.m. – hike into glacier – 3 hr round trip
    p.m. – spend time around Franz Josef
    Wednesday night – Franz Josef
    Thursday: Drive to Queenstown, stop and hike along the way, i.e. Blue pools, other areas. Visit Arrowtown. (4.5 hour drive without stopping)
    Thursday night – Queenstown
    Friday: Spend the day around Queenstown then drive to Te Anau, leaving by 3:00
    Friday night – Te Anau
    Saturday: Doubtful or Milford Sound (can switch to Sunday if weather is better)
    Saturday night – Te Anau
    Sunday: Spend the day at Te Anau – hiking, movie, glow worms etc.
    Sunday night – Te Anau
    Monday: Drive to Queenstown and Fly home – noon flight

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    <<but is there enough to do to fill a day at Franz Josef without a lot of driving?>>

    Yes. You will need to drive a short distance out to the glacier from the village. From there you can walk to the terminal face of the glacier.

    I also suggest you drive to Lake Matheson (in Fox Glacier about 40 minutes from Franz Josef) in the early morning - if the weather is clear you will see mirror views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and Mount Tasman reflected in the lake.

    There are also walks at Gillespie's Beach as well as a seal colony.

    In a well planned full day you can visit Lake Matheson (and walk around the lake), drive the short distance to Fox Glacier from Lake Matheson and walk to the terminal face of Fox an/or take a walk in the area (lots of tracks). And then return to Franz Josef to walk to the terminal face of the glacier there. Then you can have a soak in the hot tubs, and maybe even visit the West Coast Wildlife Center.

    You might also want to drive the short distance to Okarito Lagoon, which you will have passed through on your way to Franz Josef. There are some walks there too, as well as kayaking, and a nighttime tour to see kiwis in the wild.

    <<I am leaning towards more time in Te Anau vs Queenstown. We are not touristy people and won't be bungy jumping or the like, so it seems that Te Anau may be a better fit for us. Am I off base on this?>>

    Not, you're not off base. Te Anau has a lot to offer, especially to those interested in lake activities and some lovely walking tracks. I really like Te Anau.

    Having said that, there's a lot more to QT than bungy jumping. There are great little cafes and restaurants, shopping, casinos, pubs, lake activities, walking tracks, adventure activities, wineries, beautiful landscapes, views from the top of Bob's Peak (Skyline Gondola), and nearby Glenorchy (think Mt Aspiring Nat'l Park) which is absolutely stunning. It's a 40 minute drive to Glenorchy, but oh so worth it. Fabulous tracks and views in Glenorcy.

    <<Any opinion on Doubtful vs Milford Sound?>>

    I've been to Milford many times and to Doubtful once. Both are great - especially in fine weather - but, to me, the highlight of Milford is the drive to get there - Milford Road is stunning with lots of overlooks, walking tracks, etc. Just getting to Doubtful involves a lot of transport - a boat, a bus, a visit to the underground power station and then the boat ride in the sounds. The day is spent getting there, and then the boat ride in the sounds is longer than in Milford as I recall.

    Both are good - it really depends on your interests and budget - Doubtful is much more expensive to get to than Milford, but also less visited.

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    Did you see this brochure for walks in the glacier region?
    http://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/west-coast/glacier-region-walks.pdf

    If you want a easy, short, scenic walk with a pretty view, walk to Peter's Pool.
    http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/west-coast/places/westland-tai-poutini-national-park/things-to-do/tracks/peters-pool-walk/

    I'm not clear on what you mean when you say you are not touristy people because you won't be bungy jumping. I've met many tourists who haven't been bungy jumping. I'm sure there must be Kiwis who've tried it.

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