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Any other good places to swim with dolphins than Kaikoura.

Any other good places to swim with dolphins than Kaikoura.

Mar 31st, 2016, 02:41 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 3
Any other good places to swim with dolphins than Kaikoura.

Hello there!
I am currently planning the last details of my honeymoon in NZ, and I would like some advice if poss on a little dilemma I have.
FYI, our honeymoon is an outdoor-scenery-action-filled two weeks in NZ (quite a tight schedule between driving, activities, short walking treks, and 2 day horse trek) then four days in New Caledonia doing nothing!

My husband and I really want to be able to swim with dolphins in the wild, and I was thinking of going to Kaikoura as it seems to be THE place to be for marine wildlife, but this means we won't be able to got to Abel Tasman.
Is that too much of a shame? Are we better off swimming with dolphins in Picton?
As we are finishing off our hols with 4 days in The Isle of Pines, perhaps Abel Tasman would be too similar to that (beaches etc.) ?

Our trip is mid-end March and the itinerary so far is :
2 nights in Taupo
2 nights in Wellington
2 nights in Kaikoura
2 nights Franz Josef
3 nights Wanaka
1 night on 2 day horse-trek near Glenorchy
2 nights in Queenstown
2 nights Milford Sound Lodge

So the other option I'm toying with is:
2 nights in Taupo
1 night in Wellington (get evening ferry instead of next morning)
1 night in Picton (to allow for early morning swim with dolphins)
2 nights in Abel Tasman
and then the same as 1st option...

Any advice would be most helpful and appreciated!! Thanks!
gzea is offline  
Mar 31st, 2016, 04:15 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,482
Well, my advice is to ditch one island. You're going to spend all of your time getting to these places, and won't have much time to actually explore them.

You can swim with dolphins in Akaroa, but I don't see where you can fit it into such an already over ambitious itinerary.

Have you looked at drive distances? Kaikoura to Franz Josef is a seven hour drive w/o stops.

Assume you're arriving in Picton via ferry and then driving to Kaikoura??? That's a two hour drive w/o stops.

What do you plan to do in Milford for two nights? Nothing there other than the cruise terminal, a café and a 20 minute walk along the foreshore. There are some fabulous walks along Milford Road, but you don't need to base yourself in Milford to enjoy them. Your limited time can be better spent elsewhere IMO.

I suggest you consider staying in Te Anau (lots more to do) or spend one of those two Milford nights elsewhere, perhaps an overnight between Kaikoura and Franz Josef (Punakaiki perhaps) to break up that insanely long drive. BTW, which route do you plan to take from Kaikoura or Abel Tasman to Franz Josef?

I'd personally choose Abel Tasman over Kaikoura, but that's just me. Any wildlife cruise is going to be quite rough from Kaikoura, whereas the bay is like glass in Akaora. How strong is your stomach?

The drive from Abel Tasman to Franz Josef is about 6.5 hours - w/o stops..

Do you really want to spend all of your holiday in a car?
Melnq8 is online now  
Mar 31st, 2016, 04:44 PM
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 227
How are you getting to Taupo? I hope you are flying in (very small airport), rather than driving in after a long-haul flight.

Kaikoura would be the place to swim with dolphins. I've never heard about swimming with them in Picton.
deSchenke is offline  
Mar 31st, 2016, 08:31 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 65,363
By the time you finish this trek you may be on the way to divorce court . . .

You are spending almost entire days stuck in the car driving from one stop to the next, have the next day free, then repeat . . . over an over again.
janisj is offline  
Mar 31st, 2016, 09:57 PM
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 631
Paihia in the Bay of Islands have a dolphin eco adventure swim but this is in the opposite direction from the rest of your trip.
tasmangirl is offline  
Apr 1st, 2016, 05:04 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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deSchenke -

For swimming with dolphins in Picton:

Melnq8 is online now  
Apr 1st, 2016, 06:12 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 3
Thanks for you advice guys!
I think I have ironed out some of the glitches, but still no time unfortunately to go to Abel Tasman...it means a lot more driving as we really want to swim with dolphins so Kaikoura seems the obvious choice. Pictons swims do seem to be less reliable in terms of numbers of dolphins.
I guess it's just hard to accept you can't do everything!
I think that seen as we are seeing beaches and cristal waters in the Isle of Pines though for 4 days at the end of our hols, its perhaps better to make the most of NZ's mountains and rugged landscapes.

I have, I think, made our trip a little more "doable" by reducing the amount of long car journeys... FYI though, we are used to road-trips and don't mind doing some driving on most days.
Feel free to let me know if I'm making any mistakes still..

I was planning on driving to Taupo on arriving (we arrive at 10 am) but I hadn't noticed it was a 5 hour drive, a bit too long with the jet lag indeed!
And I don't see how I can get out of staying at Milford Lodge two nights as we would like to walk the Key Summit track and do a days Kakaking so it seems to be the closest base for those activities without having to drive up overtime...but I may be wrong! It's hard to get a proper idea from so far away!

Day 1: Auckland - Waitomo, visit Waitomo caves and sleep in Waitomo (2.5 hours drive)
Day 2: Waitomo - Huka falls and Orakei Korako, sleep in Taupo (2 hours drive)
Day 3: Taupo - Tongariro National Park, short morning trek of a few hours (1 hour drive)
Tongariro - Wellington, arrive early evening, sleep in Wellington (4 hours drive)
Day 4: Full day in Wellington, sleep there again
Day 5: Wellington-Picton by ferry, Picton-Kaikoura, sleep there (2 hours drive)
Day 6: Early swim with dolphins, rest, afternoon drive Kaikoura-Hanmer Springs (2 hours drive)
Day 7: Hanmer Springs-Franz Josef, sleep there (4 hours drive)
Day 8: Franz Josef Glacier Hike, hot pools, sleep there
Day 9: FJ-Makarora, afternoon trek near Mount Aspiring, sleep in Makarora (3 hours drive)
Day 10: Makarora-Wanaka, walk round the lake etc. - sleep in Glenorchy (2.5 hours drive)
Day 11: First day of horse trek near Glenorchy, sleep on trek
Day 12: Second day of horse trek, sleep back in Glenorchy
Day 13: Glenorchy-Queenstown, full day in Queenstown, afternoon Shotover River Jet (1 hour drive)
Day 14: Queenstown, full day, paraglide
Day 15: Queenstown-the Divide, walk Key Summit-sleep at Milford Lodge (3.5 hours drive to Key Summit, then 0.5 to Milford Lodge)
Day 16: Full day Kayak Milford Sound, sleep at Milford Lodge
Day 17: Milford Lodge - Queenstown airport (4 hours driving)

Many thanks if you read all of that!!
The only other option I see is to cut out the North Island totally and fly to Christchurch, then go up to Kaikoura, then ATNP then down the west coast towards FJ. It would allow us 2 nights in Abel Tasman, but it means missing out on Tongariro National Park and Wellington, and it only cuts down the driving by roughly 4 or 5 hours...
gzea is offline  
Apr 1st, 2016, 10:22 AM
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 227
I learn something new every day, Mel!
deSchenke is offline  
Apr 1st, 2016, 02:16 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,482
I wish I had your energy! Your itinerary is still quite rushed and leaves no contingencies for poor weather, but you're going to do what you're going to do.

A few comments:

Hanmer Springs to Franz Josef is a five hour drive

Check-out time in every NZ accommodation I've ever stayed in has been 10 am. This means you will need to check out of your accommodation before you go on your daily activities, unless you make special arrangements. I suggest you get a car with a concealed trunk, not a hatchback, as you'll have your luggage in the car a good deal of the time.

Is your Glenorchy trek specific to those exact dates? If not, I might have another suggestion or two regarding those two nights in Milford.
Melnq8 is online now  
Apr 3rd, 2016, 04:54 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 3
Hi Melnq8,
Thanks for your reply. Good point about the luggage, we will be sure to get a concealed trunk!
Our Glenorchy trek isn't specific to those dates, I haven't booked it yet.
gzea is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2016, 07:20 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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gzea -

I've been fiddling with your itinerary and have come up with an alternative that includes Abel Tasman and gives you two opportunities to swim with dolphins, but I'm still short a day, and you'd have to give up QT, so I'll not bother posting it.

Are you sure I can't talk you into leaving the NI for another time?

Keep in mind that most of the tracks around Makarora are quite long and challenging. Be sure to check the classification before you start on one so you're not caught out. Expect sandflies. Lodging and food is pretty scare there.

Suggest to do a bit more research on Tongariro National Park too. You could well talk yourself out of it.
Melnq8 is online now  
Apr 6th, 2016, 05:06 PM
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 1
is this a honeymoon or the amazing race?
You have zero downtime. Your going from drive to hike to drive to sleep. Your going to be exhausted, and some of the hikes your referring to are much longer than you think unless you only planning on doing a two hour section of it..

What time of year are you planning on doing this?
I'm assuming summer (December to February), if it's in winter then the driving will take much longer and expect some roads in the South Island to possibly close.
slayerspike is offline  
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