Advise on 12 Day South Island Trip

Sep 6th, 2005, 10:14 PM
  #1  
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Advise on 12 Day South Island Trip

I am planning a 12 day self drive holiday in the South Island in mid October.

Day 1 - Arrive late afternoon in Christchurch.
Day 2 - Visit Arts Center, Punting on Avon, Botanic Gardens. Drive to Oamaru. Visit Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony. Overnight in Oamaru.
Day 3 - Drive to Dunedin. Visit Penguin colony(is there a difference to Oamaru Penguin colony?), albatross colony(I think viewing is restricted in Oct). Any other attractions we can visit? Overnight in Larnach castle.
Day 4 - Drive to TeAnau. Glowworm tour. Overnight in Te Anau.
Day 5 - Drive to Milford Sound for cruise. Drive to Queenstown. Visit Skyline Gondola/Luge. Overnight in Queenstown.
Day 6 - Dart River Safari. Overnight in Queenstown.
Day 7 - TSS Earnslaw/Walter Peak cruise. Drive to Wanaka. Visit Puzzling world. Drive to Fox Glacier. Overnight at Fox.
Day 8 - Half day Glacier walk. Drive to Greymouth. Any sights in Greymouth? Overnight in Greymouth.
Day 9 - Drive to Kaikoura. Overnight in Kaikoura.
Day 10 - Whale watch tour. Drive to Queenstown. Overnight in Christchurch.
Day 11 - Day trip to Akoroa. Overnight in Christchurch.
Day 12 - Fly out.

We couldn't seem to fit Mt. Cook in our trip. Should we spend more time in Wanaka? Can we bypass Oamaru and catch the Penguins in Otago? Appreciate any feedback.

Thanks,

Alan
alany is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 03:14 AM
  #2  
 
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Day 5 insn't going to work. You will not arrive in Queenstown until fairly late. I think it must be at least a three hour drive from Milford Sound. I am unsure of how late the luge is open in October.

Several of your other days seem pretty ambitious too. I did a less intensive version of your trip on a bus last June.
Barbara_in_CT is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 06:59 AM
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Day 8: Any sights in Greymouth?

No, but the coast heading North is attractive. The Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki are good. There are several motels there, too.

Day 7 is a seriously long drive.

Day 3: the penguins there are a different species (Yellow-Eyed).
someotherguy is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 07:00 AM
  #4  
Jed
 
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The luge is "Open 9.30am until dusk (weather permitting)." If you miss it on day 5, you have days 6 and 7. Spend a few hours watching the bungi jumping.

Day 4 - Make a reservation for the gloworm cave beforehand.

Day 8 - Drive 1/2 hr past Greymouth to Pankaiki rocks. You won't regret it. I also would suggest asking for other advice on other places to stay than Greymouth.

Day 10- "Drive to Queenstown" ????
Jed is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 07:27 AM
  #5  
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Hi Barbara_in_CT,

Thanks for the tip. We will hop on the Luge the next day.

Hi someotherguy,

Do you think we should break our journey in Wanaka or Haast instead of driving straight to Fox.

Hi Jed,

Oops my mistake - it should be Christchurch. Can you suggest an alternative to Greymouth - maybe Hokitika?

Appreciate your comments.

Alan
alany is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 08:00 AM
  #6  
 
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Alan,
I haven't been to NZ yet (will be there in January) so take my comments with a grain of salt...

Day 3- take an Otago Peninsula tour. After much research, we decided on Elm Wildlife Tours
http://www.elmwildlifetours.co.nz/tour_options.shtml

This is what I would do:
Day 6 include TSS Earnslaw/Walter Peak
Day 7 is a very long day. Start very early from Queenstown in order to visit Wanaka and get to the glaciers before dark.
Day 8 hike; overnight at Fox
Day 9 to Kaikoura via Punakaiki Rocks and Lewis Pass (you can do this in one long day)

I would also skip the daytrip to Akaroa and spend an additional day in Fiordland (Doubtful Sound?) earlier in the trip. But that is just my preference.
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 08:11 AM
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There's a driving time calculator at
http://www.aatravel.co.nz/tourist/so...istances.shtml

It's pretty accurate in my experience. There are maps there, too.

Suggested driving tours are here:
http://www.newzealand.com/travel/
someotherguy is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 01:27 PM
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Our bus trip went from Queenstown to Franz Josef. We did have two different drivers. The drive is very scenic and if you are driving, you are going to want to take breaks to take it all in. Wanaka isn't that far, driving wise from Queenstown. The mountain scenery starts after Wanaka.

Hokitiki's economy centers around the 'green stone'. If you like to shop for jewelry, this is the place for you. Otherwise, continue on.

Barbara
Barbara_in_CT is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 05:05 PM
  #9  
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Tim_and_Liz,

Thanks for the Elm Wildlife Tour website. This would be an ideal option for us to explore the Otago Peninsula.

someotherguy,

Thanks. We too have found the AA distance calculator an invaluable tool when planning for our trip.

Does anyone know what the weather will be in Oct. Any recommendations on what sort of car we should get. We were think of a 1.6L Toyota Corolla.
alany is offline  
Sep 9th, 2005, 05:09 AM
  #10  
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Is October peak season in NZ? Should we prebook our tours/accommodation ?
alany is offline  
Sep 9th, 2005, 06:52 AM
  #11  
Jed
 
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I believe that October is a relatively slow season, since Dec-Feb is the warmer time, and skiing in the South is in June-July (I may stand corrected.) We went in March, which can be compared to October, and it was not crowded most places.

Check out http://www.fodors.com/miniguides/[email protected]&cur_section= fea&feature=30001


Whether you should prebook depends on your attitude. We like to be sure we have a place to stay, so I prebooked everywhere except Invercargill, which worked out fine.

You will always find a place at the last minute, although it may not be the best.

I would suggest that you book as soon as you are reasonably sure where and when you wany to stay. The cancellation policies, which you should check out, are very good, so you can usually change them a few days before.
Jed is offline  
Sep 9th, 2005, 12:26 PM
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Hi alany,
As to October being a busy time - school holidays in NZ are from 24 September to 9 October so you probably won't need to worry too much about booking ahead. Most people will be saving their leave for Christmas holidays!
Have a great trip through the South Island. We are travelling through SI in January, and have booked a trip to Okarito Lagoon, a protected bird santuary and breeding place of NZ's white heron, the kotuku. We are staying at a small place called Whataroa, about half an hour north of Franz Joseph. Also along the West Coast is Lake Matheson, worth a look as it has amazing reflections.
dotty is offline  
Sep 9th, 2005, 06:41 PM
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Hi again, Alany,
just reviewing your posting. Attractions in Dunedin - Olveston House is far superior to Larnach Castle. Not sure why you are overnighting at Larnach Castle - what about staying in the city, and enjoying the atmosphere. Other places to see - the Cadbury factory tour; Baldwin Street to name but a couple that you might fit in in your short stay.
On your way down to Dunedin try to stop and look at the Moeraki Boulders, on the left-hand side going down so you ave no problems with crossing traffic.
dotty is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 11:25 AM
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I agree with the other posters.
Day 7 seems like a very long day. We took all day to get from Franz Joseph to Wanaka without doing the other things you are planning. ( But Fox Glacier won't be quite as far. ( We were going the other direction, but same distance). Do stop at the Blue Pools along the way. It's worth the short hike in. The scenery is so beautiful, take time to enjoy it.

I went on the Elm Wildlife tour in Dunedin and it is truly wonderful. A real highlite for me. TAke the added Albatross tour, otherwise you wait on land for those that do take it.

We had a small Toyota hatchback, I think it was a 1.6 ( Help me out here dotty!! Is that what I had?) and it was fine most of the time. But it sure didn't like going up the mountains. I'd get the next size up the next time.

Hi dotty!!! kodi is MUCH better.

I also went to a white heron breeding colony , probably the same one as dotty is talking about and it was great.
It included a boat ride and then a walk through rain forest to the site. IT was just north of Franz Joseph.

Good luck with your plans.
kodi is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 05:02 PM
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Alany -

You're trying to pack an awful lot into 12 days, but I can understand wanting to see as much as possible.

Just a few comments:

The drive from CH to Omarau isn't particularly scenic. It took us 4 hours with stops. You'll want to allow sufficient time so that you arrive in Omarau in time for the penguin viewing.

We spent three nights in Greymouth a few years back and found plenty to do, although most people just pass through. Here are a few suggestions:

Cave rafting, gold and coal mining tours, walks near Blackball (former coal and gold mining town 25 km north of Greymouth), tours of Monteith Brewery and of course Punakaiki, which is definitely worth the side trip.

It took us 7.5 hours to drive from Queenstown to Franz Josef (which is about 40 minutes past Fox Glacier). We made stops at the Blue Pools, Thunder Creek Falls and had lunch in Fox Glacier. It's a long day, but can be done if that's all you do in the day. Taking a cruise in Queenstown, then stopping in Wanaka and then driving on to Fox Glacier isn't going to work unless you plan to make no stops whatsoever after leaving Wanaka and don't mind arriving during the night and missing all the great scenery. Perhaps you can take your cruise in Queenstown after your Dart River Safari in Glenorchy. If memory serves, there's a morning safari that gets you back in Queenstown in the early afternoon.

On day 11, instead of a day trip to Akaroa, why not spend the night there, then drive directly to the airport the day of your flight? It's only about a 90 minute drive, and more interesting than CH IMO.

Whatever you decide, have a great trip.
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 05:14 PM
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Hi salany, and kodi
From memory that was the car you had, would probably recommend a larger engine capacity also. Our huge tank, a Ford Ghia, sometimes does a double-take at some of the hills down south!!
The nature trip kodi did was the same trip we are doing - we are going on the recommendation in her trip report!
So pleased to hear kodi is much better!
Alany, I would agree with melnq8 - Akaroa is a pretty place, worth a good look around, and with many accommodation places of all types at all prices!!
Enjoy your trip here.
dotty is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 05:15 PM
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Oops, sorry for my unforgivable typo in your name, alany.
Dot
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Sep 11th, 2005, 02:25 AM
  #18  
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Hi dotty,

Lake Matheson certainly looks amazing from the photos I have seen on the web. I believe you can walk around the lake in 1.5 hrs. We will add this to our already long 'must see' list.

Hi Kodi,

We will look at something bigger than a 1.6L . Thanks for the tip.

Hi Melnq8 ,

Maybe I should break my journey in Wanaka or Haast. Looks like the Blue Pools is worth a visit.

Alan


alany is offline  
Sep 11th, 2005, 04:13 PM
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Alany -

Breaking up Day 7 is a good idea considering all you plan to do. The Blue Pools are definitely worth a visit and I'm ashamed to say I visited the South Island five times before stopping there.

The walk around Lake Matheson does take about 90 minutes and is an easy scenic walk, especially nice on a clear day.

As far as cars are concerned, we usually rent a Camry four door "touring car". They're great cars, very comfortable with plenty of power, but with gas prices so high, you might be shocked when you fill up.
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 12th, 2005, 07:42 AM
  #20  
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Hi Melnq8,

Thanks for the heads up on the pump prices. Does help either when the NZ dollar keeps rising.

We are now considering the Franz Josef half day hike instead of Fox. Is this a less demanding option? Is there a difference between the two?
alany is offline  

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