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haslettb02 Dec 11th, 2014 08:19 AM

21 day New Zealand Itinerary with Milford Track

I would love any insight into how to plan our 21 day road trip around the South Island of NZ. We are interested in sightseeing and hiking. We fly in and out of Christchurch. It all looks so amazing it is hard to figure out what to skip and how to arrange all the highlights without too much driving. I appreciate any help! Please let me know if we are missing anything exciting along the way. Our tentative itinerary:

Day 1-2 Spend in Christchurch exploring

Day 3 Maruia Springs - camp nearby

Day 4 Westport - see cape foulwind seal colony

Day 5-6 Karamea - do portion of Heaphy Track and stay one night, second night in Karamea

Day 7 Punakaiki/Greymouth - see pancake rocks stay in Greymouth for night

Day 8 Hokitaka - hike and see hokitaka gorge

Day 9 - Glaciers/Haast - stop to see glaciers and sleep in Haast

Day 10-11 Queenstown - explore and hike nearby

Day 12 Te Anau - drive day and rest before Milford Track

Day 13-15 Milford Track

Day 16 Te Anau - rest and explore town

Day 17 Invercargill - explore the city and sandy point

Day 18 Drive through Papatowai to see the lost gypsy and end in Dunedin

Day 19 Dunedin - explore

Day 20-21 Lake Tekapo - explore


Melnq8 Dec 11th, 2014 01:49 PM

Well, this is a first. I don't think I've ever seen a NZ itinerary that included Maruia Springs. And despite my dozen trips to the SI, I've never done more than drive by it, so I can't offer any opinions, other than to tell you to expect lots of sandflies.

I don't often see mention of Karamea either, but we once spent three nights there, also to walk a section if the Heaphy. If you have time, I suggest you visit the Oparara Basin and Honeycomb caves. Also expect plenty of sandflies, particularly on the Heaphy. And since you're up that way, you might want to look into Charming Creek Walkway.

The good news is that your itinerary is unusual and includes some places many visitors never see.

The bad news is that there's a reason first time visitors don't include these places in their itineraries. Mauria Springs, Westport, Karamea, Greymouth, Hokitika, Haast and Invercargill are definitely not 'highlights'.

The other bad news is that your itinerary will involve a still a lot of driving, although you've done a good job of breaking it into small doable bits.

So, the $20,000 question - why did you pick these particular spots?

If you're going for obscure, good on you, you've done it, but if you're truly trying to see the highlights, you might be disappointed.

When is this trip? I assume you've already booked the Milford Track?

annhig Dec 11th, 2014 02:12 PM

when we were grumbling about sandflies, our hosts in Wanaka suggested using roll-on deodorant on any bites - and guess what? it works!

that's not to say that you shouldn't use precautions against them, but if some of them get through, hope is at hand.

i really can't add anything to what Melnq has said - she has far more experience of NZ, especially the SI than i do, except that if you have an option which involves less driving than another - take the former. We changed our itinerary half way round because we realised that we were trying to do too much driving and we were very glad that we did.

RalphR Dec 13th, 2014 07:56 AM

Assume you will be doing the Milford Track as an independent hiker? I did the guided walk - 3 nights, 4 days including boat transfer from Te Anau.

mlgb Dec 15th, 2014 12:28 PM

I like your itinerary.

No reason to follow the herd. However, I reiterate the need to "DEET up" on the west coast against sandflies.

Karamea was really interesting to me, the landscape with the Nikau palms is unique.

I did the hike to Scotts Beach. Beautiful. Full of sandflies!

Personally I am not the biggest fan of Te Anau, so I might drop that night and head in toward Invercargill. That extra night I would add to Dunedin. You will want to go out to the Otago Peninsula.

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