Bucket List Trip to NEW ZEALAND - Itinerary Help!?!

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Jan 11th, 2018, 11:53 AM
  #1
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Bucket List Trip to NEW ZEALAND - Itinerary Help!?!

Upcoming “Bucket List” trip for my wife and I. We’re taking a 2 week road trip through the South Island of New Zealand in a fully Self-Contained Van via Jucy in the last 2 weeks of February (approximately 5 weeks from today). We’re avid hikers, in our twenties, in decent shape, love the “van life” and look to make the most of any experience.

We’ve posted our initial itinerary before and made some modifications w/ recommendations and are looking for some advice/suggestions as we try to finalize our trip. We’ve made some beginner’s mistakes: flight timing and making it a round trip vs. dropping off the van in a different location – but we’ll press on. We want to see A LOT – which means we’re prepared to drive A LOT. We may have stretched ourselves thin in places but for us the driving and touring will be remarkable and we’ll “stop to smell the roses” as much as we can. We still have lots of planning/booking to do (we’re hurrying) especially with influx of tourist w/ Chinese New Year’s.

Additionally - we have 1 EXTRA DAY not built in to place wherever you all think we need it along this long trip. Let us know what you think. Thanks a million!

Day 0 – We lose a day flying from the states across the International Date Line

Day 1 - Arrive from the US into Auckland 10PM – no flights to South Island this late
Lodging: Hotel for the night near the Airport

Day 2 - Fly from Auckland to Christchurch around 12PM and land at 2PM - pick up Campervan – get some basic groceries – drive to lake Tekapo
Activity: Apparently the star gazing at Mount John Observatory and seeing the Church of the Good Shepherd is highly recommended
Lodging: Lake Tekapo Holiday Park

Day 3 - Morning at Tekapo and Drive to Mt. Cook (Aoraki Village)
Day Hike Suggestions: Kea Point Track / Hooker Valley Track / Sealy Tarns Track
Lodging: Camp at White Horse Hill Campsite vs Camp at Lake Pukaki DOC for the night

Day 4 – Morning around Mackenzie Basin – possibly another morning hike – before the drive to Queenstown through Lindis pass
Activity: Bob’s Cove for a picnic / Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak / Concrete Luge
Lodging: Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park

Day 5 - Day in/around Queenstown
Activity: Ben Lomond Hike / Hit up the Wednesday Night Market.
Lodging: Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park

Day 6 - Head for Te Anau and on to Milford
Activity: Driving and stop along the way for a Day Hike Suggestions: Te Anau - Part of Kepler / Cascade Creek / Gertrude Saddle / Key Summit
Lodging: Milford Sound Lodge: Campervan Spot

Day 7 – Morning at Mildford
Activity: Rosco’s Kayak Tour 9AM - 2PM. Then make long drive back to Queenstown for dinner
Lodging: DOC Campsite at Lake Moke

Day 8-9 - Wanaka
Activity: We really like the idea of an Adventurous day like Wildwire Wanaka (5 Hour Tour). But In this area we want to do LOTS of hiking.
Hiking Suggestions?: Isthmus Peak vs. Roy’s Peak OR East Matukituki Valley vs. Rob Roy Glacier Track OR Blue Pools Walk
Lodging: DOC Campsites Night 8 / Night 9

Day 10 - 11 - Make the long drive all the way from Wanaka to Marahau to go to Abel Tasman NP (we're skipping the Glacier tours and Arthur's pass) making our way through Haast to Okarito to Hokitika to Punakaiki to Westport to Campsite
Lodging: Camping wherever we make our stop Night 10 / Holiday Park in Marahau Night 11

Day 12 - Make for Abel Tasman National Park
Activity: Take a water Taxi in/out to walk a section of the track - (Queen Charlotte Track vs. Abel Tasman Track)
Lodging: DOC Campsite

Day 13 – Lazy Morning in Marahau
Activity: Beach Day (suggestion for best beach?) and then make the drive to Kaikoura
Lodging: Holiday Park (Clean Out Van)

Day 14 – Drive from Kaikoura to Christchurch – drop off Van and catch flight at 6PM flight back to Auckland and then back to the US from Auckland at 11PM

*All in all it looks likes total distance at a minimum of about 1500miles/2400 km and about 32 hours of driving
jluvaz is offline  
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Jan 11th, 2018, 12:20 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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Well, it's full on, but you've got youth and long days in your favor.

A few comments:

Going to the Blue Pools from Wanaka on Day 8-9 makes no sense. Just make the stop on the drive from Wanaka up the West Coast towards Marahau. Keep in mind that many walks from Wanaka will involve an hour's drive or more just to access the tracks. Check your camper van rental car policy - the road to get to some of the hikes may be contract violations.

If you're staying right at Marahau, you don't necessarily need a water taxi - you can walk right into the park from there.

I'm not following your Queen Charlotte Track vs Abel Tasman Track notation???

Best beach near Abel Tasman - for me that would be Kaiteriteri or Little Kaiteriteri.
Melnq8 is offline  
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Jan 11th, 2018, 10:07 PM
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I don’t have much advice on the itinerary as it’s not the kind of trip I ever do, but I would say you should reasonably consider it to be more like 45 to 50 hours of driving. Driving in New Zealand is much slower with many two lane roads with no passing. And New Zealanders are not in the kind of hurry the tourists are!
newtome is offline  
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Jan 12th, 2018, 12:09 PM
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This is A LOT of driving! Roads here are narrow, winding, hilly, single lane each way....there is only about 200 km of freeway/motorway in the whole country. You cannot compare it with driving in the States. Your itinerary is squeezing it all in where it really does not fit. Add more time, leave something out or fly between places to save all that driving.
First up - are you aware the coastal road is only just opened this summer and only accessible in daylight hours. Traffic is one way in some parts as they are still rebuilding the road. Don't plan a lazy morning and then hitting the road to Kaikoura - I would get going early.
I really don't see the point of blasting up the West Coast to Marahau from Wanaka for such a short time. Then it's more driving off to Kaikoura. Consider flying from Queenstown up to Nelson.
What about Mt Cook and Lakes Pukaki and Tekapo as an alternative?
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Jan 16th, 2018, 07:45 AM
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Thank you all so much for your help/assistance/advice. We’re very thankful to have some opinions. We’ve thought about what you have posted and modified our trip to exclude the north part of the south island (Abel Tasman/Kaikoura). We’re going to go up the west coast a little bit, but cut through Arthur’s Pass instead on our way back to Christchurch. We’re spending more time in/around Wanaka and making the west coast drive take a few days.

Day 1 – Fly into Auckland - spend the night in hotel near airport

Day 2 – Fly into Christchurch - pick up van – Drive to Lake Tekapo

Day 3 – Pukaki / Mt. Count – Hiking in/around Aoraki Village

Day 4 – Morning in Mackenzie Basin and drive to Queenstown

Day 5 – Day in Queenstown - Hiking

Day 6 – Day in Queenstown – Wine Tour

Day 7 – Drive to Milford (stopping to smell the roses / hike)

Day 8 – Kayak Tour on Milford – Drive back and spend night in Te Anau

Day 9 – Drive to Wanaka – Day in town

Day 10 – Wanaka Wildwire (adventure)

Day 11 – Mt. Aspiring NP – Day hike

Day 12 – Drive to Glaciers – stop to hike Blue Pools and then hike around Glaciers (no formal guided hike or heli-hike)

Day 13 – Drive to Hokitika – hike the gorge

Day 14 – Drive to Arthur’s Pass – camp somewhere near the Punchbowl Waterfall

Day 15 – Drive to Christchurch – clean out van and depart back to Auckland to fly home
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Jan 16th, 2018, 08:03 AM
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That's much better!
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