7 days Southern Island - Help!

Aug 22nd, 2005, 10:56 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 25
7 days Southern Island - Help!

My son and I are coming from US into Q-Town mid-October. Have 7 days. Arrive on Sat, leave on Sun out of Dunedin--visiting son in Dunedin, exchange student. Have reserved a rental car. Am looking for ideas on what best to do on Southern Island. Will not put myself on real strict budget. This will be my one trip, probably, to NZ. THANKS!
LynnLee is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2005, 12:26 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Hi LynnLee,
I haven't been to NZ yet (will be there in January) but I have thoroughly read about and researched the south island. So in my opinion, I would spend days 1-3 in Queenstown. On day 3, drive to Te Anau and stay overnight, visiting the glow worm caves in the evening. On day 4 take the overnight Milford sound boat. You will return to Te Anau around noon on Day 5, drive to Dunedin. Spend day 6 on the Otago Penninsula and day 7 in Dunedin.
These are just my thoughts... there are a lot of NZ experts who will surely weigh in and may contradict me. (Take their advice!)
Please post a trip report upon your return-- it would be great to read about your experiences!
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2005, 12:43 PM
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Thanks, Liz, as your suggestions will give me a good start! And hopefully others will add their ideas, too, with much specificity! Upon my return, I'll definitely post a report, as this site has just been so valuable.
LynnLee is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2005, 12:01 PM
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More info as to what your interests and capabilities are would be helpful.
Jed is offline  
Aug 24th, 2005, 12:47 PM
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The advice from Tim and Liz is right on in my opinion. I wouldn't go too far north or up to Christchurch with your tight timeline. But since it may be your only trip to NZ, I would change the day 4-6 itinerary. So I agree, days 1-3 in Q-town there is so much to do there.

On Day 4 start early and head straight to Milford Sound. The drive into and out of Milford is spectacular, be adventurous; you cross the 45th parallel (halfway between South Pole and equator), get a map and take the long & winding road,the sidetrips off this road are great-- I especially liked The Chasm and the tunnel approaching Milford. Do a 2-3 hour cruise then head out and drive south to Manipouri, get a room. I'd skip Te Anau, no reason to even stop, IMO.

Day 5-6 take the overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound. The price is reasonable, there are cheaper bunk-style accomodations for singles or you can get cabins if preferred. You can research this cruise at realjourneys.co.nz The name of the boat is the Fiordland Navigator, it has 4 masts and when the sails are open it feels really special. This was truely the best single thing we did on our month in NZ. The 2 sounds are worth every bit of time and money you spend there, they are unique to NZ and are like nothing else in US except maybe Alaska coastline.

Day 7-8 head to Dunedin...
Parrothead is offline  
Aug 27th, 2005, 08:24 PM
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Thanks, Parrothead, for the detail! That's just what I need.
Just to add a little more detail of our circustances and interests....it will be me and my two teenage sons, 16 & 18. They are very adventurous types; love extreme sports. I hope to see wildlife unlike we would ever see in US. We also enjoy architecture and unusual restaurants. Money is not of a big concern; however, accommodations of around 180-200 USD per night would be at the highest end. Will have rental car. Would prefer hotels with a regional character, not typical Western chain hotels. Want to see/do as much as possible in this short time on Southern island. Thank you!
LynnLee is offline  
Aug 28th, 2005, 10:28 AM
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In Queenstown, the 4WD tour of Skipper's Canyon, Jetboats, and of course Bungy Jumping will appeal to your boys. They might find the Earnslaw cruise a bit dull, But Mom will like it!

Outside of Dunedin, there is Penguin Place, which is a quirky combination of war games/wildlife viewing (you travel in trenches to get within a foot of yellow eyed penguin nesting sites, while operators use walkie-talkies to communicate the travel path of individually named birds for interception by the tour groups. http://www.penguin-place.co.nz/. I'm sure your son will be aquainted with the Otago peninsula albatross/penguin/wildlife locations.

Out of Dunedin train station, the Taireiri Gorge train trip passes through unusual scenery, good if its a rainy day and you don't want to be walking about. If you have a group of golfers, the public course at Chisholm Park is truly the poor man's Pebble Beach.

Since you will not have another opportunity to see glowworms, I would try to fit the Te Anau caves in, but would not go out of my way to spend any other time in Te Anau (sometimes it just works out as the most convenient place to stay). I prefer Milford to Doubtful, and I don't think with 7 days you have time enough for both.

The drive between Te Anau & Dunedin through the Catlins is scenic, but with limited time I would not linger. The view out from Nuggets is spectacular, and there are some wild penguin spotting locations near by (they will be described in the handfulls of brochures you should be able to pick up at the Queenstown info center.)
mlgb is offline  
Aug 28th, 2005, 01:48 PM
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I agree that you should not try and squeeze any other areas than those already mentioned. There are so many other fantastic areas but your itinery covers the highlights. I would highly recommend driving out to Arrowtown for half a day while you are in Queenstown. Also include Skippers Canyon 4WD trip and the gondola and luge. If your boys are tempted to do a bungy jump while in Queenstown, I recommend either the Nevis or the Pipeline bungy at Skippers - if they are mad enough to do it, they may as well do it from a decent height. My boys did the Pipeline last year and loved it.
An interesting, but little known, short walk while in Dunedin, is Tunnel Beach. This is just south of residential Dunedin. Despite what the sign says, it is a ten minute walk down and a 20 minute walk back up with stops to catch your breath - I'm not overly fit. An incredibly rugged bit of coast with a natural bridge/sea tunnel and also a man-made tunnel with steps cut into the rock which provides beach level access to an amazing cove with a cave. We came across a penguin here.
I would not like to take small children over to the sea tunnel part and I must admit to being a little nervous about my teenage boys getting too close to the edge (no barriers).
It is about 10 minutes drive south from Dunedin central marked as Tunnel Beach Road on the map. I would allow 1 & 1/2 hours for this trip.

Kiwis2 is offline  
Aug 28th, 2005, 01:57 PM
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The hotels we have chosen, after much research, are:
Queenstown: Browns Boutique Hotel (although I don't know if they can accommodate 3 people) for NZ$260 per night

Te Anau: Campbell Autolodge for NZ$180 per night

Dunedin: 97 Motel Moray Place for NZ$120 per night for a suite
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
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