Another NZ itinerary

Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 01:56 PM
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Another NZ itinerary

Hello all,

Thank you for all the previous posts about driving around New Zealand whilst on holiday, I can assure you I've read many and they have helped me to come up with this itinerary.

We are visiting NZ as part of our honeymoon (early 30's) and have 15 nights in a motorhome to get from Christchurch to Auckland in April. I've noted the concerns about trying to fit too much in so we have deleted a couple of places from the trip (Dunedin/Punakaiki/Motueki). Jet lag wont be a issue as we are coming over from Melbourne, and I am used to driving vehicles of this size and on narrow roads.

So, the provisional route is (times are A-B not accounting for stops):

Day 1: Christchurch

Day 2: Christchurch - Greymouth (3.5 hrs)

Day 3: Greymouth - Fox Glacier (2.5 hrs)

Day 4: Fox Glacier - Arrowtown (4 hrs)

Day 5: Arrowtown - Milford Sound (4 hrs)

Day 6: Milford Sound

Day 7: Milford sound - Queenstown (4 hrs)

Day 8: Queenstown

Day 9: Queenstown - Twizel (3 hrs)

Day 10: Twizel - Kiakora (6 hrs)

Day 11: Kiakora - Nelson (3.5 hrs)

Day 12: Nelson - Picton (2 hrs)

Day 13: Picton - Wellington (4hrs FERRY)

Day 14: Wellington - Lake Taupo (5 hrs)

Day 15: Lake Taupo - Rotorua (1.5 hrs)

Day 16: Rotorua - Auckland (3.5 hrs)

Followed by 2 nights in Auckland with friends to show us around.

Is this a feasible route? Obviously we want time in most locations to explore and do activities/see the sights etc. I'm thinking this will be mostly in the morning with most of the driving done in the afternoon.

Thank you in advance for your help.

jimandhol is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 03:49 PM
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Hi Jim -

I see some potential problems.

This is a driving itinerary. Other than a full day in Milford and a full day in Queenstown, you're driving every day. This leaves you very little time to see the places you're driving to and leaves absolutely no wiggle room if poor weather prevents you from doing whatever activities you plan to do in a given area.

I've been to NZ many times, and I personally find anything less than a two night minimum a complete rush. I've also found that the driving time calculators are only accurate if you drive flat out and don't encounter ANY obstacles, such as livestock, pokey tourists, campervans, road maintenance, poor weather, or make any stops, let alone do what tourists do, explore en route. Surely you want to explore en route?

Fox Glacier to Arrowtown is 314 km, which will take you close to six hours. Roads in NZ are narrow, winding and there are lots of one way bridges - you can only go so fast on these roads - especially in a motorhome - even if an experienced motorhome driver. Think Tasmania.

In addition, there are so many places to stop en route for short walks, waterfalls and photo ops, that four hours is just not going to happen.

Twizel to Kaikoura is another long haul - 457 kms, six hours of flat out driving.

Is this itinerary possible? Yes. Would I suggest someone do it? No.

PS - why Twizel? Why not Mt Cook?
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 10:40 PM
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The North Island is okay but you are driving every day as Mel points out.
Twizel to Kaikoura is a 5 hour drive and a strange route. I went to Twizel once years ago and have never returned.
On day 15 with your morning in Taupo you could visit Huka Falls and Orakei Korako as you drive past on the way to Rotorua. It does seem a shame to be in the area and not have time to see anything.
Day 16 - if you left Rotorua early a visit to Hobbiton would work if you are LOTR fans.
tasmangirl is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2016, 04:26 AM
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Thanks for the advice both!

We really want to be able to have time to experience the country, relax and go for walks but with such a distance to cover on slow roads I’m finding it hard to get the balance.

We really want to do:
Milford Sound

We have friends in Picton so we’ll sacrifice the visit to Nelson to free a day up. Mt Cook sounds like a good idea rather than Twizel, I’d been trying to use other people’s itineraries and Twizel seemed to be a common stop over. Maybe we shouldn’t worry about the west coast but we’d prefer to do a loop from Christchurch to Queenstown, so we’d naturally be driving that way (without needing to go to Greymouth). This’ll be the only time we’ll be visiting NZ in the foreseeable future so we really want to get the most out of it – I appreciate that doesn’t mean constant driving and being too tired to enjoy the destination!

We've actually never seen Lord of the Rings!! So that will free some time up.
jimandhol is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2016, 06:04 AM
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Give your interests, why not fly to Queenstown, visit Milford, work your way up to Kaikoura via either the inland route (visiting Mt Cook and possibly Christchurch along the way) or the West Coast (but not both!) then continue on to Kaikoura and Picton?

Or begin up north first, start in Picton and drive one way to Queenstown, visiting the sites you're interested in, and then fly back to Auckland from Queenstown?

I'm always baffled when Twizel pops up in itineraries, but I suspect its because some folks wait too long to make accommodation bookings, then find Mt Cook fully booked. Twizel is the closest town to Mt Cook.
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2016, 08:32 AM
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The flights are already sorted and the camper is booked so we'll need to start in Christchurch, which isn't ideal being half way up!

I meant to say Queenstown as a priority in my last post instead of Wellington, all these place names are merging into one.

I've come up with another itinerary, still driving everyday (bar 1) but shorter stints. I can't see how we can do it any other way, even going Christchurch - Milford Sound - Picton in 11 days sounded easy when we booked it!

Christchurch - Arthurs Pass - Hokitika 3.5 hrs
Hokitika - Fox Glacier 2.5hrs
Fox Glacier - Wanaka 3.5 hrs
Wanaka - Arrowtown - Te Anau 3 hrs
Te Anua -Milford Sound - Te Anau 4 hrs
Te Anau - Queenstown 2.5 hrs
Queenstown - Mt Cook 3 hrs
Mt Cook - Waipara 4.5 hrs
Waipara - Kaikoura 2 hrs
Kaikoura - Picton 2hrs
Picton- Ferry - Wellington 4 hrs FERRY
Wellington - Lake Taupo 5hrs
Lake Taupo- Rotorua 1 1/2 hrs
Rotorua - Auckland 3 1/2 hrs
jimandhol is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2016, 11:58 AM
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OK I've gone back to the drawing board, fingers crossed this will cover everything but give us 4 days without driving!! There are 3 long driving days but that doesn't bother us as we have rest days after in the same area.

Christchurch - Fox Glacier 04:45
Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier - Arrowtown 03:43
Arrowtown - Milford Sound - Camp on Milford Road 03:49
Milford Road - Te Anau - Queenstown 01:56
Queenstown - Mt Cook 02:41
Mt Cook - Kaikora 05:30
Kaikora - Marlborough 02:39
Marlborough - Picton - Wellington 01:21 (4:00 Ferry)
Wellington - Lake Taupo 04:21
Lake Taupo - Rotorua 01:02
Rotorua - Auckland 02:41

I know these times are unrealistic in a motorhome (no traffic in a car on google maps) and we'll be stopping enroute, but I think it's a good balance.

What do you think?
jimandhol is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2016, 03:02 PM
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I don't know what site you're using to estimate drive times, but I use this one and find it pretty accurate.

Note these times do account for short rest stops, but not the type of stops I personally make on a trip to NZ (photos/hikes/lunch/exploration/coffee etc.

Christchurch to Fox - 5:30

Fox to Arrowtown - 5:00

Milford to Queenstown is four hours - trust me, I've driven it many, many times. You don't say where exactly on Milford Road you will be starting from, but Knobs Flat is about halfway between Te Anau and Milford if that helps.

Mt Cook to Kaikoura - 6:30

On the bright side, NZ is beautiful even if seen from behind a windscreen.
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2016, 02:16 PM
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jimandhol - please listen to what Mel says. we didn't [well not enough] and soon realised that we had set ourselves a ludicrous itinerary that was going to exhaust us. We were able to change it because we'd arranged some free cancellation terms on our hotels and we were so glad we did.

personally I would rather drive for longer on one day and have the next day to explore and relax, perhaps something like this:

Day 1 - Christchurch
Day 2 - Christchurch - Fox Glacier. Sleep Fox or FJ
Day 3 - Fox /FJ glacier walk etc.
Day 4 Fox Glacier - QT stopping Arrowtown en route
Day 5, QT.
Day 6 - day trip to Milford Sound
Day 7 - Queenstown - Mt Cook 02:41
day 8 - Mt Cook - Kaikora 05:30
Day 9 - Kaikora
Day 10 - Kaikora - Marlborough 02:39
Day 11 - Marlborough
Day 12 Marlborough - Picton - Wellington 01:21 (4:00 Ferry)
Day 13 Wellington - Lake Taupo 04:21
Day 14 Lake Taupo - Rotorua 01:02
Day 15 Rotorua - Auckland 02:41

in fact I may have lost a night somewhere so you could put an extra one in, for example a night in Wanaka between Fox and QT.

Trust me, anything you can do to cut down on the driving is a good idea!
annhig is offline  
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