Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Australia & the Pacific
Reload this Page > (Almost) Final 3 Week South Island Itinerary

(Almost) Final 3 Week South Island Itinerary


Jan 9th, 2014, 08:26 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 4
(Almost) Final 3 Week South Island Itinerary

Hello fellow travelers!

My husband and I are heading to the South Island for 3 weeks in March for our honeymoon. I posted the first version of our itinerary on here a couple months ago to a lot of great feedback (thanks Melnq8), and now that we’re less than 2 months away, I wanted to post our more thought-out version here to get your thoughts.

We have a pretty solid plan for the first half of the trip but we’re not sure how to structure the last couple of days. We’re in our late 20’s and plan to do a lot of hiking and camping (we’re bringing our tent – and yes, we have scrubbed it clean so hopefully it’ll get through customs ok!).

Mon 3/3 – Arrive Christchurch around 3pm. Overnight Christchurch.
Tues 3/4 – Pickup rental car, drive to Kaikoura via Hanmer Springs. Camp at Alpine Pacific Holiday Park (booked).
Wed 3/5 – overnight Blenheim (B&B booked)
Thurs 3/6 – overnight Blenheim (B&B booked)
Fri 3/7 – drive to Marahau with stop in Nelson, camp in Marahau
Sat 3/8 – full day hike or kayak in Abel Tasman, camp in Marahau
Sun 3/9 – drive to Greymouth
Mon 3/10 – drive to Franz Josef or Fox Glacier, do a glacier walk.
Tues 3/11 – drive Franz Josef to Wanaka
Wed 3/12 – overnight Wanaka. Is Wanaka a good base for hiking in Mt Aspiring? Or should we camp somewhere closer to the park?
Thurs 3/13 – hike, overnight Wanaka
Fri 3/14 – overnight Queenstown
Sat 3/15 – overnight Queenstown
Sun 3/16 – drive to Milford Sound, overnight at Milford Sound Lodge (booked)
Mon 3/17 – morning Milford Sound cruise, hike to Key Summit, overnight in Te Anau
Tues 3/18 – overnight Te Anau – any recommendation for a good day hike?

*This part of our itinerary is really rough so any advice is much appreciated. We’ll probably want to get in a hike near Mt Cook but we’ll also want to take it easy and maybe stay at nicer accommodations since it’s the last couple of days of our honeymoon.

Wed 3/19 – drive to Lake Tekapo area. In what town should we stay?
Thurs 3/20 – Mt Cook
Fri 3/21 - Mt Cook again?
Sat 3/22 – drive back to Christchurch, return rental car, explore
Sun 3/23 – early morning flight back to NYC

Let us know what you think! Thanks so much!
scjb1019 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 9th, 2014, 03:15 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,681
Looks like a very well thought out itinerary.

It's about an hour's drive to get from Wanaka to Mt Aspiring. You might consider staying at Glendhu Bay instead - a beautiful area alongside the lake - there's a holiday park there where you can camp - that will put you closer to Mt Aspiring.


As for hikes near Te Anau, my personal favorite is The Kepler Track from Rainbow Reach to Moturau Hut and return (7.75 mile return, car park is located 12 km south of Te Anau, well marked). Another option is the Kepler from the Lake Te Anau Control Gates to Rainbow Reach, you can double back or take a shuttle back to Te Anau.

Walking from the Kepler car park to Mt Luxmore is also an option. My knees have prevented me from trying this section, but you young whipper-snappers should have no troubles - 8-10 hours return.


Te Anau to Tekapo and/or Mt Cook is a haul, doable with limited stops, but long - about six hours.

If you want to break up the trip you might consider doing it in Cromwell - a fruit and wine growing area - this would be a good option for 3/19. I can recommend a nice little place to stay and a winery lunch option.

You'll reach the turn off for Mt Cook before Te Anau - I suggest you spend two nights in Mt Cook, which will give you one full day to hike, and then visit Lake Tekapo on the day you drive to Christchurch - easy to do - it's on the way and doesn't take much time to explore - you'll even have time for a hike and lunch at the Observatory Cafe.

We stayed at this motel in Mt Cook in August and loved it, I highly recommend it:

Melnq8 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jan 9th, 2014, 03:22 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,681

Correction, I meant Tekapo, sorry.
Melnq8 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jan 10th, 2014, 11:22 PM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 6
Blenheim doesn't have that much going for it, whereas the Abel Tasman National park is one of the best areas in NZ. I would take a day from Blenheim and give it to Able Tasman.

That way you can do a 2 day walk in the park, camp at one of the great campsites on the beach and then take a water taxi or Kayak back to Marehau and see the park from the sea.
georgina_allen_923 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 11th, 2014, 10:47 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 4
Thanks so much, this is all really great information!

Melnq8, your Cromwell recommendation sounds great, that way we're only driving about 3 hours from Te Anau. What's your lodging recommendation?
scjb1019 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 11th, 2014, 10:47 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 50,307
if you stay in Wanaka, i can thoroughly recommend the Criffel Peak B&B.


[lovely people, great views, very comfortable and reasonably priced].

they will help you plan your time in Wanaka depending on your interests and the weather, etc. and they are very keen walkers so know all the best tracks

We really liked Wanaka and would suggest staying 3 nights if you can manage it.
annhig is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 11th, 2014, 03:26 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,681
Here it is:


The place isn't huge, but would be perfect for a short stay.

Reviews here, mine included:


Nice lunch spot (suggest you book):

Melnq8 is online now  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:39 AM.