11 Nights in NZ - Must Sees for Active Couple

Dec 29th, 2008, 07:51 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2008
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11 Nights in NZ - Must Sees for Active Couple

My husband and I are flying into Christchurch on January 27th and leaving from Aukland February 7 (11 nights). We would like to spend the majority of time on the South Island, but we're overwhelmed with the various places to see and having a hard time planning our itinerary. We definitely want to see Milford Sound (maybe kayaking) and bungy jump in Queenstown. We also love to hike, bike and enjoy wine too. We plan to drive ourselves (possible camper versus car) and would appreciate any suggestions for "must sees" and itinerary options to maximize our time. I know it's not enough time to see it all, but we have to start somewhere. So little time so much to see...

Thank you for any suggestions you may have.

CCRieb is offline  
Dec 29th, 2008, 11:01 PM
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Hi Cathy -

As your time is limited and your interests lie south, you might consider flying directly to Queenstown from Christchurch. I'd suggest spending 2-3 full days in QT to bungy jump, visit wineries and perhaps do some walking. From QT, you can access some really nice walks in Glenorchy, Arrowtown and near QT itself.

You might then drive to Te Anau and spend a few days there. Milford Sound is a two hour drive from Te Anau, so it makes a great base from which to see the area. There are some very nice tracks in/around Te Anau and Milford as well.

Then you might consider driving back to QT to fly back to Christchurch or head towards Dunedin to spend a few days before flying back to Christchurch.

You can easily spend all 11 days on the SI and barely scratch the surface - it really boils down to your style of travel and how much you want to see and do.
Melnq8 is online now  
Dec 30th, 2008, 12:10 PM
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I do like one-way options, if you are already booked in Christchurch on your international flight, pick up a car and end in Queenstown, fly back from there to Auckland. Flights in Queenstown are difficult to book, you might find it too costly to do the one way car and flight. If so, you can get back to Christchurch from Queenstown or Mt. Cook in a day. I do like Mt. Cook area, there's a nice hike in the Tasman Valley to a glacier overlook (down a long but well graded gravel road). You've also got some options for zodiac trips to see some small ice bergs and glacier flights and landings out of Mt. Cook.

I am not a big fan of camper van rentals. Winding mountain roads, inability to take some of the gravel roads, gas expenses. There is a good hostel system in NZ, so if your main reason for the camper is to save money, I would look into a smaller car booking through bbh.co.nz or yha.co.nz with possibly a few homestays and motels. (Motels in NZ are like apartments, with a kitchen and sitting area, and often a BBQ).

There's the Central Otago wine region around Queenstown, starting around Arrowtown but really the best are around Bannockburn. You might consider staying in Clyde which is closer to the wineries but not far from Queenstown.
mlgb is offline  
Dec 31st, 2008, 11:23 AM
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Thank you for all the great advice. I think we've now decided to just get a rental car and find accommodation along the way. Your hostel/homestay idea sounds perfect. We're also going to fly from Christchurch to Auckland to save time and spend more time on the SI. Now we just need to map the SI itinerary. I'm thinking we'll drive from Christchurch to Dunedin, then over to Te Anau/Milford Sound then to Queenstown. Not sure from there...maybe Mount Cook to Arthurs Pass to Nelson/Picton and back to Christchurch. May be ambitious, but we want to see as much as we can. Any other recommendations on lodging would be great too. Thanks.
CCRieb is offline  
Dec 31st, 2008, 05:34 PM
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Any particular reason why you want to visit Dunedin? If not, I would suggest that you go from Christchurch to Queenstown/Te Anau via the inland route through Pukaki, etc. The drive from Christchurch to Dunedin is pretty boring for much of its length and the inland scenery is much more appealing. Dunedin is nice but, given the time that you have available, the inland route may be better for you.
kiwi_rob is offline  
Jan 4th, 2009, 09:27 AM
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My old trip report from a few years ago has some lodging recommendations. These are modest sorts of places, not the cheapest but not the most expensive, some I've stayed at several times.

mlgb is offline  
Jan 4th, 2009, 11:10 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Don't know if you already have something in mind in the Auckland area. For me, Auckland itself was simply another generic city. But we loved Rotorua (less than 3 hours by car) -- particularly the long walk through Waimangu Volcanic Park. It was one of the most spectacular, unearthly views I've ever seen. On our next trip, we'll include the Bay of Island on the N. Island.

Also LOVED Queenstown. What a gorgeous place. If you can drive through Skipper's Canyon -- that was "WOW" also. We didn't rent a car in Queenstown, but did a fantastic tour with Nomad Tours. I wouldn't have wanted to drive through some of those areas. It was a little icy and I preferred having a pro who really knew those roads.

One last thing ... after all the other breathtaking scenery, Milford Sound was beautiful -- but a wee bit disappointing. However ... the "mirror lakes" on the way to Milford Sound from Queenstown were spectacular.

Songdoc is offline  
Jan 4th, 2009, 01:46 PM
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Songdoc -

"On our next trip,....."

Addictive isn't it?
Melnq8 is online now  

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