23-day itinerary advice - focus on the SI

Dec 8th, 2015, 06:30 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 24
23-day itinerary advice - focus on the SI

After several lots of adjustments and tough decisions based on the generous and helpful advice of this forum, i now have this as a working itin and would appreciate comments/advice/insight... We are 3 people, late 50's, driving our own car (one driver), and want to enjoy scenic drives, a few beaches, tour wineries, do some light, short hiking, and see some penguins...

Feb13 & 14 - auckland
Feb 15-16 - coromandel
Feb 17-19 - Rotorua (incl lake taupo en route south)
Feb 20-21 - wellington (afternoon ferry to Picton)
Feb 22-24 - nelson/abel tasman/wineries/kaiteriteri
Feb 25. - punakaiki
Feb 26 - FJ/Fox tbd (can we see glow worms here so we dont have to drive to waitomo in the north?)
Feb 27 -28 - wanaka (route 6 wineries)
Feb 29 - mar 1 - Queenstown
mAr 2-3 - Te Anau/Doubtful Sound
Mar 4-5- Oamaru
Mar 6 - christchurch
Mar 7 - fly to auckland (late afternoon)
Mar 8- depart
ChristieKanata is offline  
Dec 9th, 2015, 10:57 PM
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 631
I'm not a South Island expert for drive times but it looks like a lot of time spent in the car so not much fun for the driver.
By Coromandel do you mean the town or the area in general? Whitianga is a nice base to explore the area and is closer to Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach.
Motueka is a good base for the Nelson area and from there you can go to my favourite winery Mahana www.mahana.nz. Kaiteriteri and ATNP could be explored from here and also it's not far to Nelson.
The West Coast roads will be narrow and winding and don't look far on a map but the driving requires concentration all the time. However that's just the way the West Coast is so if you want to go there take a few breaks. There is a glow worm place at Kumara but it won't be the experience provided at Waitomo. There are also glow worms at Te Anau.
I would rethink your Wanaka/Queenstown nights to give your driver a rest and either stay 3 nights in Wanaka and 3 in Queenstown. Do an organised trip to Doubtful Sound in the bus rather than drive there for one whole day and drive back.
Te Anau to Oamaru is 400 km and 4.5 hours. Check the AA website maps.aa.co.nz for accurate drive times. Google can underestimate distances. Where as Queenstown to Oamaru is 300 km and take you over the Lindis Pass which has great scenery.
Enjoy your holiday here in NZ.
tasmangirl is offline  
Dec 15th, 2015, 07:01 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 24
Thanks so much... will definitely check out your favourite winery! I appreciate the cautions on driving and will take that into account. And we are adjusting. I am considering adding an extra night in the Motueka area; spending 3 nights in wanaka (vs Queenstown), definitely booking the bus/boat tour of Doubtful Sound. Am struggling with whether we should make the drive south via Invercargil and the Catlins to Dunedin, or as you suggest driving from Queenstown east to the Oamaru area.

There is so much to see; I am trying to assimilate the info and driving times and finding a realistic balance... thanks again.
ChristieKanata is offline  
Dec 16th, 2015, 05:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,482
I'll leave the NI to those who know it better, but a few comments regarding the SI.

The drive from Motueka to Punakaiki will be a long one; not a problem, I've done it, but do leave yourself plenty of time. The roads along this stretch are narrow, winding and can be exhausting for the driver. I suggest frequent breaks and a possible lunch stop in Murchison.

I always suggest two nights in the glaciers which gives you one full day to explore, but coming from Punakaiki will give you 1.5 days, so probably not an issue.

Three nights in Wanaka is a good idea, two nights will only give you one full day as it takes a full day to get there from the glaciers - lots of reasons to stop en route.

Do I understand that you're planning to drop QT altogether? (I would too).

You just don't have enough time to add the Catlins and Invercargill (which is a boring, flat agricultural town anyway). I'd add a night to Te Anau, which will give you two full days. With that, you could also visit Milford or at the very least, drive Milford Road which is more interesting than Milford Sound IMO, particularly if you enjoy a wee bit of hiking.

You can see glow worms while you're in Punakaiki at the
Punakaiki Cavern - take a torch.

I'm guessing once you see them, you'll be glad you didn't go out of your way to find them.
Melnq8 is online now  
Dec 16th, 2015, 02:26 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 24
Based on reading more TRs and solid advice we have this as a revised itinerary:

1 night Auckland (we are foregoing a visit here... )
2 nights Hahei area (Coromandel) to get some beach time and warm up
3 nights Rotorua (thermal pools, maybe a bike rental, and the cultural exp)
2 nights Wellington
4 nights Nelson/Motueka area
1 night Punakaiki
1 night Franz Josef/Fox (we won't hike or heli trip...)
3 nights Wanaka (for some easy hikes and wineries)
2 nights Te Anau (a bus/boat trip on Doubtful sound)
2 nights Omarau (to see penguins hopefully)
1 night Christchurch (a quick visit before we fly out mid-afternoon next day)

This version leaves us with one extra night... and I am thinking if we forego Waitomo and see the glow worms in Punakaiki, maybe we can spend only 2 nights in Rotorua... in this scenario we would be able to add 2 nights somewhere...

Thanks Mel for the advice and the red flag (for me) on the sandflies.
ChristieKanata is offline  
Dec 16th, 2015, 10:02 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,482
Looks like a good itinerary to me Christie.
Melnq8 is online now  
Dec 16th, 2015, 10:45 PM
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 631
From what I have read in another forum the West Coast glow worms can be a disappointment. Waitomo is really the best place to see them and for the whole experience underground.
Coromandel is a lovely area - if you are near Ferry Landing try the whitebait fritters at the café there.
tasmangirl is offline  
Dec 17th, 2015, 08:05 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 24
Thanks everyone...we have decided to stay one night in Picton when we arrive off the ferry, so we can relax and then enjoy the drive the next morning to Motueka!

Think it is a good balance of one-nighters and longer stays to help the driver and cut down on the checking in and out time-wasting activity.
ChristieKanata is offline  
Dec 17th, 2015, 01:19 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,717
Nice to see someone making the long trek to Oamaru - we just loved it.

to see the penguins just go down to the beach at dusk and watch carefully - no need to spend money on the over-priced penguin experience.
annhig is offline  
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