2 days in Kaikoura or 2 in Blenheim?

Jan 14th, 2006, 08:46 AM
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2 days in Kaikoura or 2 in Blenheim?

I'm in the process of fine tuning our 3 week tour of the South Island. We fly into Nelson and spend 3 nights in the Ruby Bay area before heading down the west coast and back up the east coast. Right now we are planning to spend 2 nights in Akaora, drive to Kaikoura and spend 2 nights (will do the Whale watch EARLY the second morning) then drive on to Blenheim for the night. We fly out of Blenheim around 5 pm the next day.
After reading so many post by Melnq others about the Queen Charlotte Sound, I'm wondering should I leave Kaikora in the AM after the whale watch, drive on to Blenheim that would give me an extra day there. Could I see the sound areas easily from Blenheim? Or is that extra day in Kaikora better? Currently we are planning to spend the first afternoon in Blenheim biking through the vinyards and do some wine tasting.
Pawleys is offline  
Jan 14th, 2006, 09:18 AM
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I didn't think there was much to Kaikoura except the whale watch (we saw no whales and got most of our money back).

I would just stay one night and then head to Blenheim. We stayed 3 nights there (over New Years) and really enjoyed it. The countryside is beautiful and there are so many wineries and nice restaurants. The downtown area was also nice to walk around.

Sorry - I can't comment on getting from Blenheim to Queen Charlotte Sound.
Grcxx3 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2006, 03:28 PM
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Pawleys -

It takes about 30 minutes to drive from Blenheim to Picton, (29 km) gateway to Queen Charlotte Sound.

We've never spent much time in Kaikoura, but we drive through on every trip to the SI. We have spent some time in Blenheim - it's worth a visit IMO, especially if you like wine.

There are many wineries in and around Blenheim, as well as a cheese factory and a distillery. Prenzel's (maker of some interesting liquers, schnapps and fruit brandies) is located about 5 minutes from Blenheim in a complex that also houses a winery, a quilter's barn, an ice cream shop, a place that sells olive oil, chutneys, relishes and preserves made from local produce) - a very interesting stop.

I highly recommend that you drive to Picton and take a mail boat cruise into Queen Charlotte Sound. The ride takes about 2.5 hours and gives you a good look at the sounds from the water. The Cougar Line operates a mail boat cruise as well as taxi service into the sounds.

If you have time, you can also walk a portion of the Queen Charlotte Track, which is also a great choice IMO.

Given the choice between a night in Kaikoura and night in Blenheim, I'd choose Blenheim personally. The main attraction to Kaikoura is the whale watching, whereas there's quite a bit to see and do around Blenheim/Picton.

Have a great trip!
Melnq8 is online now  
Jan 14th, 2006, 03:38 PM
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Forgot to mention that I'm glad to hear you're visiting Ruby Bay - not many tourists seem to go there, and it's one of my favorite areas. Where are you staying?

There's so much to see and do between Nelson and Motueka that Ruby Bay is a good base. Be sure to try out Flax, a great little restaurant on the Mapua Wharf (even Fodor's has found Flax - it was mentioned in the trip report on the front page of this site).

The Smokehouse used to be really good, (located right next to Flax) but we were disappointed with them on our last trip.

There's a great little bakery in Mapua too - can't remember the name, Naked Bun? Can't miss it as it's on the main street through Mapua.

All this talk is making me want to plan another trip to the South Island!

Melnq8 is online now  
Jan 15th, 2006, 07:34 AM
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Melnq8, thanks for all the suggestions. I would love to do the mail boat ride you describe. Right now we're booked for 2 nights in Kaikoura and the last night we're in Blenheim. If I can change that I will subtract one night from Kaikoura and add it to Blenheim. That would give us time to bike through the vinyards there and spend a day near Picton.

If I can't make a change in my reservation would it make sense to go to the Picton area one of the days we're in the Ruby Bay area? We have 3 nights there at the first of our trip; but, I know the first day we'll be jet lagged and I want to spend one day in Abel Tasman. Sounds like there is alot to see in that area too.
Pawleys is offline  
Jan 15th, 2006, 03:17 PM
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Pawleys -

If Ruby Bay is your base for seeing Nelson, Motueka and the Abel Tasman area, you're going to need all the time you've allotted (and more!). So, I'd suggest you stick to that area and not try to squeeze in Picton.

The drive from Kaikoura to Picton takes two hours, so it's possible to drive to Picton for a mail boat ride then return to Kaikoura for the night, but I probably wouldn't do this either, since you're headed to Blenheim the following day anyway - too much backtracking.

I'd suggest you take your time, thoroughly visit a few areas, and hope that there will be a next time to see even more.

Melnq8 is online now  
Jan 18th, 2006, 08:56 AM
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Kaikoura looked pretty from the bus I was on driving by, but I spent 2 days in Blenheim/Marlborough and it was fabulous. I hired a driver to take me around to the wineries since it was winter, cold, and no one likes to stumble around after some sips! The wineries were really cute and friendly-I enjoyed Mud House, Villa Maria, Huia, Nautilus, Allan Scott, Cloudy Bay, Lawsons. There are just so many and the wine is the best IMHO in the world. Definitely take a day or 2 to see the wineries and taste some delicious wine!
Abby43 is offline  
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