2 Week Itinerary - Return to the South Island

Old Apr 6th, 2018, 11:00 PM
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2 Week Itinerary - Return to the South Island

In October/November we plan to return to the South Island for a 2-week self drive holiday. We owe the success of our last trip to the knowledgeable people on forums and so here I am again.

Last time we did the Haast, Arthur and Lindis Passes, Hokitika, Franz Josef, Te Anau & Milford Sound, Wanaka, Queenstown, the Catlins, Christchurch, Dunedin & Mount Cook. This time we would like to return to Wanaka and Queenstown, but focus most of the trip in the north of the south island, where we did not venture last time. Places on our wishlist include Picton & Sounds, Marlborough Wine Region and Abel Tasman NP.

I have looked at quite a few other itineraries and forum posts, but most people that are doing 2 weeks are focused on the places we went to last time. If there is anything I have missed, please post the link.

We have not yet booked flights and are open to flying into and out of different locations to maximise our time on the ground. We live in South Australia so no direct flights into the South Island. We are likely to be flying via Sydney or Melbourne, or possibly even via Auckland depending on which airline we fly. As we did last time, we will book a medium sized car and stay in motels/B&Bs/apartments. We enjoy hiking, photography, outdoor activities, people watching, having great meals, coffee, wine and craft beers... We also like to avoid moving around every night and we love getting to know the towns we stay in, not to mention the locals. So we try wherever possible to stay most places for 3 nights or more, unless there is a reason to have 1 night to break a journey..

At this stage we have the following loose itinerary;

Day 1 - Wellington Overnight ready to take inter islander ferry to Picton the next day
Days 2/3/4 - Picton / Marlborough Region
Days 5/6/7 - Abel Tasman National Park
Day 8 - Punakaiki
Day 9 - ???
Day 10/11/12 - Wanaka
Day 13/14/15 - Queenstown

Your thoughts and suggestions would be much appreciated. Thankyou so much in advance for your assistance.
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Old Apr 7th, 2018, 07:54 AM
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Here's another option:

Fly from Auckland to Christchurch, rent a car and head towards Blenheim/Picton. This is a long drive day, so maybe break it up with a night in Kaikoura or make the detour to Hanmer Springs for the night - timing also depends on flight arrival time.

Spend 3-4 nights Picton - easy access to the Marlborough Sounds and easy access to Blenheim and the Marlborough wine region - Blenheim is a 25 minute drive from Picton.

Drive to Nelson or Motueka - many people base themselves in Nelson for visiting the Abel Tasman area, but I prefer to stay closer - some options are Kaiteriteri, Little Kaiteriteri, Mapua, Upper Moutere or even Marahau (gateway to Abel Tasman - not much there, but an option if Abel Tasman is your main focus). There's lots to do in Nelson, and I adore the drive between Nelson and Motueka along Ruby Bay. Moteuka has a lot of accommodation as well, but it lacks the charm of some other nearby areas IMO. Stay 3-4 nights

Drive from Abel Tasman area to Punakaiki - spend one night to break up journey

Drive from Punakaiki to Fox Glacier or perhaps Karangarua or push on as far as Makaroa (or another spot on the road with a motel or B&B - options are extremely limited once you pass Fox heading south, I've spend many hours looking myself, but the idea would be to get you as close to Wanaka as possible without spending too much time in the car, break for an overnight and then head on down to Wanaka. Spend one night to break up journey.

Wanaka - 3-4 nights
Queenstown 3-4 nights

Depart Queenstown to Christchurch and on to Auckland (unless a direct flight from Queenstown is available and works with your connecting flight).

Or do it all in reverse, fly directly to Queenstown from Auckland or Christchurch (depending on flights) and end up in Christchurch then depart from there.

Last edited by Melnq8; Apr 7th, 2018 at 07:57 AM.
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Old Apr 7th, 2018, 07:58 AM
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Or - fly from Auckland to Nelson and start up there as you would from the ferry (not sure of flight availability).
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Old Apr 7th, 2018, 09:24 PM
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Hi AussieHubbywife,
We just returned from the South Island last week, with a 3 day stop over in Tahiti. While in Tahiti we met a couple who flew from Wellington to Nelson for $25. I'm not sure what airline but probably JetStar. We stayed in Nelson because we took the Inter Islander Ferry and then drove across Charlotte Sound Rd. There are other options for visiting Abel Tasman than Nelson as MeInq8 mentioned. We stayed in Nelson and it was an easy 1 hr. drive. We used Wilson's for our day in Abel Tasman and thought they were good. I wished we could have stayed longer in Nelson because it is a cool town. On the way to Punakaiki we stopped at Nelson Lakes and drove to St. Arnaud for a packed lunch looking out over Lake Rotoiti and I would recommend that. You will need a break and the view across the lake is wonderful. We spent 5 nights in Wanaka and two in Queenstown.
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Old Apr 18th, 2018, 02:05 AM
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Thanks for the tip about flying directly into Nelson.. With Air New Zealand we could fly from Adelaide direct to Auckland and then onto Nelson in 7 hours total, which is about what it would take us to go to Wellington via Sydney with Qantas.. That will give us an additional night...
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