10 days in NZ - Need Suggestions! Dec/Jan

Old Sep 30th, 2023, 06:56 AM
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10 days in NZ - Need Suggestions! Dec/Jan

Hello Fellow Travelers:

I'll be on a solo trip to NZ, arriving in Christchurch on Dec 27 and leaving Christchurch Jan 8. I will have a car (I know will be driving on opposite side).
I know nothing about NZ but was told the South Island is where to be.
Any suggestions on 10 days in NZ are so appreciated.

Thank you!
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Old Sep 30th, 2023, 11:51 AM
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The South Island is definitely the place to be. Where are you traveling from? By 10 days, do you mean on the ground, or including travel?

Where, exactly depends on your interests, but most first time visitors head to the glaciers (Franz Josef and Fox Glacier), Queenstown, Milford Sound and Mt Cook.

I think you'll find it challenging to hit all of these places in 10 days, as it takes longer to get from Point A to Point B than you might expect, so you'll want to narrow down the options, look at the drive distances, and go from there.
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Old Sep 30th, 2023, 12:39 PM
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newzealand.com is the official tourism website. Suggest you start there as well as reading some of the Fodor's trip reports.

Book your lodgings in advance. Remember it's summer down under. South Island will have better (cooler) weather. North Island experiences "humid splendour" as a friend likes to say.
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Old Oct 1st, 2023, 01:12 AM
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Melnq8 has provide a pretty go starting point above. It would be a lot of driving but the beauty of Nw Zealand is that there is a LOT to see along the way. If you did want to cut back on that list then I would drop Milford Sound. It is a very long way there and back. I would add stop in Lake Tekapo which is stunning and would break up the very long drive between Christchurch and Queenstown. Some photos https://accidentalnomads.com/category/new-zealand/ (last post on that page.

As mentioned by mlgb, NZ.com is great and, if into walking, I would take a look at the Department of Conservation site which has lots of very good walling trail ranging from 10 mins to several days, many of which are directly off of the roads you will b driving on
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Old Oct 1st, 2023, 05:43 AM
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Thank you all! It's 10 days on the ground. I found a milford sound cruise and fiordland hike/helicopter that I am definitely going to do. So that's two days already. Figure I stay in Queensland for at least 4 nights - what to do with the other nights? Agree - want to book housing ASAP.

Lake Tekapo looks incredible - and what a great idea to break up a long drive. Perhaps once I land in ChCh I would drive there and do an overnight. Then drive to Queenstown. Any othr towns I should hit in the south? Where to stay other than Queensland? Thank you all so much.
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Old Oct 1st, 2023, 08:58 AM
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Figure I stay in Queensland for at least 4 nights - what to do with the other nights? Agree - want to book housing ASAP.

Queenstown...and there's loads to do. Hikes, day trip to Glenorchy, wineries, Bob's Peak, Shotover or Dart River cruise, bungy jumping,...absolutely loads. Suggest you think in days, not nights - four nights is only three full days and your time will fly by.

Lake Tekapo looks incredible - and what a great idea to break up a long drive. Perhaps once I land in ChCh I would drive there and do an overnight. Then drive to Queenstown. Any othr towns I should hit in the south? Where to stay other than Queensland? Thank you all so much.

Christchurch to Tekapo will take about three hours...but not something you want to do as soon as you arrive unless you're coming from somewhere nearby like Australia. If you're coming from elsewhere, forget about it. You will be absolutely fried - do not get in a car and drive on the left - opposite side you're accustomed to - right off a flight. You will put yourself and others at great risk.

Please do not underestimate how tired you may be - driving in NZ is a challenge at the best of times.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2023, 05:41 AM
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I will be coming from Australia so I think the 3 hour drive will be just fine But thank you for the warning - I am mentally prepared for the challenging driving and will give myself plenty of time to get around.

While I'd love to do Fox Glacier, I think it might not happen as it seems quite far from my route from ChCh to Lake Tekapo to Queenstown. While in Q-town I plan to do a day long cruise in Milford Sound (it leaves from Q-town so no driving!)

After a few days in Queenstown, I plan to stay in Te Anu for a night before a day long guided hike in Fiordland. Then I'll still have a few days... Thoughts? Perhaps driving back to Christchurch via a different route?

You have been incredibly helpful!!

Last edited by CrossfitGal; Oct 2nd, 2023 at 05:49 AM.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2023, 07:50 AM
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You could perhaps go back via Dunedin and Oamarau. a link to a post on our blog with some photos - https://accidentalnomads.com/2016/01...uins-and-pies/
Penguins are supposed to walk along some of the streets in Oamarau (though they must have taken a different route every time we have visited!) . Some nice scenery along the coast.

PS Even driving on the 'wrong" side of the road, I wouldn't describe the driving as challenging. Yes the roads can be narrow in places but the traffic is very light compared with most places around the world and driving standards are pretty reasonable.

Last edited by crellston; Oct 2nd, 2023 at 07:55 AM.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2023, 12:38 PM
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I will be coming from Australia so I think the 3 hour drive will be just fine

I should think so! And driving on the left should be a breeze

As for challenging, I wasn't referring to traffic so much as narrow and winding roads, potential issues like landslips, sheep, and other drivers unaccustomed to driving on the left. I've seen some pretty bad driving in NZ.
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Old Oct 4th, 2023, 03:48 AM
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Hi! For an epic 10-day NZ trip in Dec/Jan:
  1. Auckland (Days 1-2)
  2. Rotorua (Days 3-4)
  3. Tongariro National Park (Days 5-6)
  4. Wellington (Days 7-8)
  5. Queenstown (Days 9-10)
Book in advance. Enjoy the adventure!

Safe travels!
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