20 day New Zealand Itinerary with Milford Track

Old Nov 6th, 2014, 09:16 AM
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20 day New Zealand Itinerary with Milford Track

Hello,

I would love any insight into how to plan our 21 day road trip around the South and North Islands of NZ. We do have a 4 night 5 day Milford Track experience through Ultimate Hikes scheduled on Day 6 through Day 9 where we start and stop in Queenstown. We fly in on Day 1 to Christchurch and we fly out of Auckland on Day 21. It all looks so amazing it is hard to figure out what to skip and how to arrange all the highlights without too much backtracking. I appreciate any help!

If possible we'd like to see the following: Mt Cook Region, Oamaru, Queenstown, Glenorchy/Cromwell, Fiordland Region, Lake Wanaka, FJ Glacier, Kaikoura, Hanmer Springs, Arthur's Pass, Nelson Region, Picton, and several notable spots in the North Island yet to be determined.

Thanks!
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Old Nov 6th, 2014, 08:32 PM
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Hi marzdoats -

I think you're going to find it quite challenging to fit your SI wish list into the time you have, let alone the NI.

The SI is best tackled by making a driving loop or a figure 8 of some sort, but having Milford booked partway through instead of on the front or back end of your trip
complicates matters somewhat.

There are only so many roads in NZ, and because the glaciers and Mt Cook are separated by a mountain range, they're along separate routes and it takes considerable time to drive both.

As far as routing, you might consider something like this:

Days 1-5 Christchurch-Oamaru-Mt Cook-Cromwell-Wanaka (this is really pushing it though, a lot of driving with very little time to explore)

Days 6-10 - Milford Track

Days 11 - ? - Queenstown-Glenorchy-West Coast (glaciers)-Arthur's Pass-Hanmer Springs-Kaikoura-Picton-Nelson - then maybe depart via plane from Nelson to Auckland

I personally wouldn't consider this itinerary with less than three full weeks, and by that I mean three weeks in addition to the time you've allocated for the Milford Track.

It's a driving itinerary - you'll be seeing the SI from inside your car.
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Old Nov 7th, 2014, 04:01 AM
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Thanks Melnq8 !

I appreciate your feedback. I might see if the Track can be adjusted by a few days so that my 'figure 8' can be done without any back tracking. What do you recommend we cut - we don't want to be pushing it too much.

Marzdoats
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Old Nov 7th, 2014, 01:23 PM
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marzdots - i can only agree with mel that you are trying to do too much. we had 13 nights on the sI and it wasn't nearly enough, and 4 on the NI which was even worse as we had to spend far too much time driving and nothing like long enough seeing and doing.

IMO you should seriously consider dropping the NI from your trip, this time.
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Old Nov 7th, 2014, 02:58 PM
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Hi Marzdoats -

Agree that the NI would be the obvious thing to drop. In addition, I'd drop Oamaru , Hanmer Springs and possibly Arthur's Pass, choosing instead to continue driving up the West Coast towards Nelson, instead of crossing over at Arthur's Pass.

I have nothing against these spots, but they present some issues with making a loop, and none are what I would personally consider highlights, although others might disagree. If you take a close look at a map and figure distances between them and your other wish list items, you'll see what I mean.

Instead of crossing from the West Coast at Arthur's Pass, you might consider continuing up the West Coast towards Punakaiki, then work your way up to Nelson via SH 6 near Westport. This will better facilitate a loop of sorts, and will allow you to circle back down to Christchurch via Picton and Kaikoura (and even Hanmer Springs if you want).
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Old Nov 9th, 2014, 01:04 PM
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If it were me, I'd nix the NI. And I'd add on the Routeburn Track. It is truly spectacular and complements the Milford well.

That's the Routeburn Track in my profile picture. And here's my trip report with links to photos:

http://www.fodors.com/community/aust...s-nov-2010.cfm

Ralph
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Old Nov 9th, 2014, 02:31 PM
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Beautiful photo Ralph!
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Old Nov 10th, 2014, 08:24 AM
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well, we loved Oamaru but that was because of our individual interests coming together all at once [gardens, opera, italian food and penguins] all in one day. it might not appeal to everyone and it is difficult to fit it into the sort of loop that Melnq8 suggests. trip planning in NZ seems to involve an very high degree of compromise and a lot of hard choices!

Ralph- I will be coming back to read your TR!
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