19 Days in New Zealand in August

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Mar 13th, 2013, 04:05 PM
  #1
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19 Days in New Zealand in August

My husband and I are traveling to New Zealand in early August. We will fly into Auckland and out from Christchurch with 19 days to travel. I have sketched out a rough itinerary below. I would love any suggestions!

Day 1 – Arrive Auckland
Day 2 – Auckland
Day 3 – Auckland
Day 4 – Train from Auckland to Wellington
Day 5 – Wellington
Day 6 – Ferry to South Island, stay in Nelson area?
Day 7 – Nelson area
Day 8 – Abel Tasman Park
Day 9 – Hokitka
Day 10 – Glaciers
Day 11 – Glaciers
Day 12 – Wanaka
Day 13 – Te Anau
Day 14 – Te Anau, Milford Sound
Day 15 – Queenstown
Day 16 – Queenstown
Day 17 – Mount Cook
Day 18 – Christchurch
Day 19 – Christchurch
Day 20 – Depart Christchurch

I don’t really want to spend as many days in Auckland as we have planned, but my husband LOVES trains so we are working around the Northern Explorer’s limited winter schedule. This was the only place I could figure out a train ride since our schedule does not include Arthur’s Pass. I guess an alternative would be to fly from Auckland to Queenstown on Day 3 and work our way up the west coast and across Arthur’s Pass, but I have heard that Abel Tasman and Nelson are really nice areas.

I tried to plan this so we wouldn’t have any days of incredibly long driving. I would really appreciate some suggestions on where to stay/how to tackle the Nelson/Abel Tasman part of the itinerary, as well as the Te Anau/Milford Sound/Queenstown portion. If it is possible to stay in one town and travel around that would be ideal. Also how much will our activities be limited by the fact that it is winter? Finally, we really like wine so I would love some suggestions on wineries to check out!
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Mar 13th, 2013, 06:53 PM
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A few things to keep in mind - days are very short in August, it gets dark pretty early. You might encounter snow and ice, and there's the ossibility that the Milford Road will close for avalanche danger or close early in the day to blast for avalanches. They do their best to keep the road open, but it IS winter. Be sure to have a set of show chains in your trunk. My theory is that if you have snow chains, you won't need them, so it's good insurance

Days 6-8 - You'll be arriving in Picton, which is a two hour drive from Nelson. I've never found Nelson to be a particularly good base for Abel Tasman - it's about a hour's drive away, and there are closer options, such as Motueka, Upper Moutere, Tasman, Kaiteriteri, and Marahau.

However, if the plan is to spend some time in Nelson (as it appears to be) you'll find plenty of wineries in area near Richmond and between the towns of Nelson and Motueka (as in Upper Moutere).

You can download a Nelson area winery map here:

http://www.wineart.co.nz/wineries.htm

On the subject of wineries, you'll also find loads of them in the Queenstown area, and Cromwell, near Wanaka, is home to some lovely wines - they're known for their pinot, but we love the dry Rieslings from that area. We like Mt Difficulty in Bannockburn (near Cromwell) - they're also a great spot for lunch. Amisfield Winery near Arrowtown makes some lovely Pinot Noir and has a highly regarded bistro. You'll be spoiled for choice, but I'm happy to rummage through my notes for more specific suggestions if you'd like.

If you say, you ease your way from the ferry at Picton to Nelson, exploring a bit on the way (the Marlborough wine region is near Blenheim, which is a 25 minute drive from Picton) spend one night in Nelson to check out the city, then work your way towards Abel Tasman the following day, checking out some wineries en route, you could then spend two nights closer to Abel Tasman - that would give you a full day to explore the wineries and scenery between Nelson and Motueka and one full day to explore Abel Tasman Nat'l Park.

I can make some specific accommodation suggestions for Nelson and Abel Tasman, I'll get back with those shortly.
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Mar 13th, 2013, 07:07 PM
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Okay -

We loved this place near Nelson - it's located on a small vineyard in Richmond, outside the hustle and bustle of Nelson City:

http://www.milcrestestate.co.nz/

It's been many years, but we really enjoyed this cottage in Tasman (wine growing region between Nelson and Motueka).

http://www.friars.co.nz/listing.php?p=sch

We also enjoyed this B&B in Riwaka, near Motueka:

http://www.thebluemoon.co.nz/welcome.htm

And this lovely cottage in Upper Moutere:

http://www.maplegrove.co.nz/

If you'd prefer to stay at the doorstep of Abel Tasman, suggest you take a look at Ocean View Chalets in Marahau.

There's also a wide assortment of accommodation at Kaiteriteri and Little Kaiteriteri:

http://www.tourism.net.nz/region/nel.../accommodation
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Mar 19th, 2013, 01:43 PM
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Thank you so much for your suggestions! We will stay one night in Nelson and two nights closer to Abel Tasman. If you have any other suggestions on how to balance out our trip I'd certainly appreciate them.

Do you have an opinion on staying at Mt. Cook vs. Lake Tekapo on the way from Queenstown to Christchurch? Also how far in advance do you think we should book our accommodations?
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Mar 19th, 2013, 02:46 PM
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August is low season, except in ski areas like Wanaka and Queenstown, which gets quite busy and expensive accommodation wise. I'm also going to the SI in August and I plan to book my QT and Wanaka accommodation as soon as I've finalized my itinerary.

If you want to wing it, you certainly could that time of year, other than ski areas.

Mt Cook vs Lake Tekapo - either is a good place to break up the drive from QT to Christchurch. I'd lean towards Mt Cook based on scenery alone, although the weather tends to be worse back there, whereas Lake Tekapo gets less rain.

I guess it comes down to what you plan to do there - Mt Cook has some nice hikes and lovely scenery, but the village is tiny so not much else to do if you get rained out, although there is a 3D movie you can watch at the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Center at the Hermitage Hotel. Lake Tekapo has an observatory, hot pools, several hikes, a café on the top of Mt John, and an ice skating rink. There are some nice country drives around Tekapo, but the village itself isn't terribly exciting.

I'd go for Mt Cook.
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