2 week New Zealand south island trip in summer

Old Sep 4th, 2016, 01:11 PM
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2 week New Zealand south island trip in summer

Hello,

Planning a trip with wife and 11-month old during Jan 2017 for 2 weeks. After some research, here's a tentative itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive CHC from Sydney (no jet lag concern). Drive to Tekapo. Stay overnight.
Day 2: Relaxed drive to Mt cook.
Day 3: Tasman Glacier. Overnight Mt cook.
Day 4: Drive towards Dunedin. Moeraki + Penguins. Overnight Dunedin.
Day 5 : Drive to Te Anau.
Day 6: Milford Sound. Overnight Te Anau again.
Day 7: Drive to Queenstown.
Day 8: Queenstown (Glenorchy drive)
Day 9: Queenstown
Day 10: Wanaka
Day 11: Drive to Franz with stops on haast pass.
Day 12: Walk to glacier/helihike/neither? Drive to Punakaiki. Stay overnight.
Day 13: Drive to Kaiteriteri. Small detour to St. Arnaud if time permits (?). Overnight Kaiteriteri.
Day 14: Abel Tasman boat+small hike+boat back. Drive to Nelson.
Day 15: Flight out from Nelson.

Was looking for some feedback on the itinerary from the experts here.

1) Are the drives on days 11-14 too much with an infant? We have driven long distances before here in the US, but not in hilly terrains and not with the baby.
2) Penguins/wildlife in Dunedin sounds enticing, but should I skip Dunedin in favor of an extra day in ATNP? In that case I would do Mt Cook-> Queenstown->Te Anau-> Wanaka

Thanks in advance!
bayareabuckeye is offline  
Old Sep 4th, 2016, 05:09 PM
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I'm torn.

It's a full on itinerary, but parts of it make perfect sense. Yes, you'll have the long days of summer in your favor. But, with an infant? Having never travelled with one, I'm doubtful.

Dunedin is a long detour for only one night. The penguin tours begin around 9:30 pm that time of year, long past a wee one's bedtime.

One night in Wanaka is giving is short shrift IMO. Lots to see and do.

I always recommend at least two nights at the glaciers, which only allows one full day. The drive there from Wanaka is a very full day - lots of reasons to stop.

Granted the drive to Punakaiki from the glaciers isn't that bad, but when you combine it with a glacier helihike (assuming you can even do that with an infant???) or even a walk to the glacier, you've got a pretty full day.

Punakaiki to Kaiteriteri is also a haul, but doable if you plan well.

Driving in NZ is arduous - lots narrow winding roads, lots of campervans, lots of silly tourists stopping in the middle of the road, lots of one way bridges, the occasional herd of cattle or sheep. In other words, it's challenging and usually takes much longer than one might expect.

Add to that all the reasons to stop - baby breaks, loo breaks, food and beverage breaks, photo breaks, short walk breaks, etc.

I'm thinking it's a bit ambitious with an 11 month old.
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Old Sep 4th, 2016, 05:36 PM
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@MelnQ8 thank you for the detailed response! I myself don't know how traveling with the baby would be. Right now he's very happy in a car seat for 3+ hours at a stretch, but you never know!

Would you recommend I skip Dunedin then and add an additional stop between wanaka and ATNP? Something like Tekapo->Mt Cook(2)->Queenstown(3)->Te Anau(2)->Wanaka->Franz->Hokitika->St.Arnaud->Kaiteriteri->Nelson? This would give me more time to walk up to the glacier followed by a small drive to hokitika, and also make subsequent drives less arduous.
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Old Sep 4th, 2016, 06:29 PM
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I guess a sleeping infant is better than a restless toddler!

Yes, I'd suggest skipping Dunedin, but I wouldn't add an additional stop, I'd just add a night to Wanaka or Franz Josef or Nelson.

In which case I'd tweak the routing a bit:

Christchurch-Mount Cook
Mount Cook-Wanaka
Wanaka-Te Anau
Te-Anau-Queenstown
Queenstown-Franz Josef (full day)
Franz Josef-Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks, some hikes, a pub, small assortment of accommodation, not much else, but a good place to overnight)
Punakaiki-Kaiteriteri (long drive)
Kaiteriteri-Nelson

Punakaiki makes sense as an overnight between the glaciers and Kaiteriteri, or you could push on further and overnight around Murchison, which would make your drive to Kaiteriteri shorter the following day.

If you overnight in Punakaiki, you'll have plenty of time to explore Hoki and Hoki Gorge en route. Pushing on will mean you'll be limited in how much time you spend in Hoki.

There's not much in Murchison - I can recommend a decent café and some nice walking tracks though. I spent three nights there once, but I was there to hike. It's fine for an overnight, but not a place the average tourist spends much time in.

Westport is an option too - it's a proper town, and there's a seal colony, but again, it'd be a convenient place to overnight more than anything. It's a short detour off the highway.

It really comes down to how much you want to drive that day. Lots of options.

I've been to St Arnaud a few times and while pretty, it's more of a fishing and hiking base than anything else, although I could well have missed something.
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Old Sep 4th, 2016, 07:56 PM
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I'll take that advice. Maybe 2 nights at Franz, so I can recover after the long drive from QT. Then stick to the Punakaiki/Kariteri/Nelson schedule.
Thanks for the suggestions!
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Old Sep 5th, 2016, 12:22 PM
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No worries, enjoy your trip!
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Old Sep 5th, 2016, 05:04 PM
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I agree you should skip Dunedin to have more time for the rest of your trip. Besides, in November, the weather can be wet, windy, and cold in Dunedin.

I'd like to clarify that two types of penguins can be seen in Dunedin/the Otago Peninsula and the surrounding area. The more common Little Blue penguins waddle ashore in groups as the sun is dropping into the horizon, so perhaps around 9:30 p.m. in November as Melnq8 noted. But the rare, endangered and solitary Yellow Eyed penguins waddle ashore during the late afternoon. In November, there are likely to be chicks in nests, and adult penguins will sometimes return during the day to feed them and head back out to sea again.

If you're going out on a Milford or Doubtful Sound cruise, you might see Fiordland Crested penguins.
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Old Sep 5th, 2016, 09:50 PM
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@Diamantina, I am traveling in January, not November. But I get the idea. Thanks!
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Old Sep 5th, 2016, 11:49 PM
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Sorry about that. Actually, the weather improves in January. But you should still skip Dunedin due to lack of time.
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Old Sep 6th, 2016, 12:34 AM
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I'm sure you're aware January will be a busy month due to school holidays. So, once you've firmed up your plans, book Mt. Cook Village and Kaiteriteri first thing, then your other accommodations. If you can't find accommodation in Mt. Cook Village, have a look at Glentanner, which is on the road to Mt. Cook Village. Tekapo also has very limited accommodation. Tekapo also has very limited accommodation.
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Old Sep 6th, 2016, 12:58 AM
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Sorry for the repetition! Already two apologies!
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