critique this itinerary please

Old Jan 9th, 2011, 04:56 AM
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critique this itinerary please

starting to plan we hope a 4 week trip to New Zealand and Australia. Rough beginning is as follows:
12/10 arrive Auckland
12/11 Auckland jet lag day what to do?
12/12-13 Rotorua
12/14 fly to Nelson
12/15-12/18 hike -- Abel Tasman; Kaikoura or Queen Charlotte being considered Problem with Kaikoura is location to get to the glaciers when finished would be difficult or require 2 days
12/19-12/20 Fox Glacier heli hike
12/21 Queenstown mostly to break up drive
12/22-23 Te Anau 1 day hike of Milford Track; boat ride
12/24 Invercargill
12/25-26 Dunedin
12/27 Christchurch
12/28 fly christchurch to Hobart Tasmanis
12/29-30 Tasmania
12/31 fly to Kangaroo Island
1/1-1/2 Kangaroo Island
1/3 fly to blue mountains
1/4-1/5 blue mountains
1/6 drive to Sydney
1/7 Sydney
1/8 home

Interests are nature hiking animals etc We are not city people -so one day in Sydney should be enough.

Any places to stay that are reasonable priced are welcome -- we prefer bed and breakfasts but know that is not going to be possible everywhere. Christchurch an inexpensive place near the airport would be fine as the only purpose of going there is to fly out the next day. Ensuite is necessary.

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Old Jan 9th, 2011, 03:30 PM
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Hi mpkp -

I'm going to be completely honest here, I think this itinerary is nuts and for someone who doesn't like cities, you've devoted a lot of time to them.

I count two countries, three Australian states, two NZ islands, 23 days of ground time, and 17 locations. I see 10 days divided between three Australian states, and three flights within those 10 days. Do you really want to do this?

Have you checked flight schedules, flight times, drive distance & travel times? Have you considered possible closures for Christmas?

Have you considered the cost of moving around so much (flights, short term car rentals, etc) and the time needed to unpack, repack, drive to the airport, drop off your rental car, board a flight and move on for a day or two?

For instance, you've allowed two full days in Tasmania...that in itself is a crime and I have to wonder why you're even bothering to go there if you can only spare two days?

Regarding your SI itinerary:

I don't understand what you mean by 'Kaikoura or Queen Charlotte being considered'. You plan to walk the Abel Tasman in it's entirety correct? That means, you'll need to relocate on 12/19. It's a 494 km drive from Motueka (near Abel Tasman) to Fox Josef - that's at least a 7 hour drive without stops and it's not going via Kaikoura. That would put you in Fox Josef late on 12/19 and would give you 12/20 to explore the glaciers.

Fox to Queenstown is 381 km and will take at least six hours, much more with stops, and there are many reasons to stop.

Then it's a four hour drive from QT to Milford Sound on 12/22.

Why the stop in Invercargill? Te Anau to Dunedin is about a four hour drive.

I think you need to go back to the drawing board.
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Old Jan 9th, 2011, 07:06 PM
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I know you have been there a lot -- I appreciate that you do know a lot more than me about these destinations.That said, I don't feel your feedback was very helpful.

12/12-12/18 sorry this is unclear -- I was planning to do a hike -- either Abel Tasman or Queen Charlotte or Kaikoura was recommended to me -- but I think Kaikoura may be out of the way considering I want to go to the glacier after there. I would only do one. And I don't mean in its entirety -- I was thinking of a 3 day guided hike at one of these places. I didn't really mean that I would stop in Nelson -- just that I would fly there that day and continue onto wherever I would start hiking -- that would mean that I would like a 3 day hike and there is probably an extra day in there that could go somewhere else -- Maybe stop somewhere between there and Fox Glacier -- break up that drive or the one the next day -- that is the feedback I would consider useful.

I wanted to go to Te Anau from the glacier and Queenstown seemed like a good stop -- but perhaps Wanaka or somewhere else would be better. I thought Fox to Queenstown would be 5-6 hours of driving that day.

I wanted to do the drive between Invercargill and Dunedin but perhaps the stop in Invercargill is not needed to do that. Or maybe just going to Dunedin would be better and I should do day trips from there. Or maybe that can be part of the drive from Te Anau.

In a perfect world I would spend a lot more time -- of be able to go back often -- but this is not a perfect world. There are 4 weeks for this trip -- not counting the air time from home.

I have looked at the flight times and know that getting from one place to another is not always easy -- I expect all the flights to cost between $1,750 and $2,500 for both of us based on what I can see online right now.

I consider Auckland and Sydney cities when I made that comment. You might consider Rotorua a city but I consider it more of a destination and something to do -- there is a lot there to see. Christchurch is an overnight -- I expect to get there in time to relax and have dinner before flying out the next day. I realize that Nelson is on the itinerary but really I meant to fly into there and then continue on to the start of a hike -- whether that is Queen Charlotte or Abel Tasman -- probably won't be doing Kaikoura.

I had a hard time with Australia -- I want to go to Tasmania; Kangaroo Island and the Blue Mountains -- 3 destinations. I have about 10 days to do it. I would like a week in each -- can't do it. I thought about another day in Tasmania and one less as Kangaroo Island but I really wanted two days there.So I chose 2 full days in all the places. Perhaps I should spend 3 days in Tasmania and 1 day in the Blue Mountains. That feedback would have been constructive and helpful but to tell me not to go to Tasmania because I was only spending 2 full days there was not --

I will not have the luxury of returning for several years so I am trying to do the best I can

I have 3 one night stays -- 6 2 night stays and 3 3 night stays plus the hike we decide to do.

I counted 13 locations -- not sure where you came up with 17 -- Auckland, Rotorua, the hike, Fox Glacier. Queenstown, Te Anau, Invercargill, Dunedin, Christchurch; Tasmania, Kangaroo Island, Blue Mountains and Sydney.

I did not consider closures for Christmas. I may have to adjust things for that but it is too early for me to consider that.

I really wanted to go to Stewart Island as well but did not think I could fit it in --

You make it sound as if 3 Australian states and 2 island are mutually exclusive when in fact they are the same thing -- 3 places; not 5.
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Old Jan 9th, 2011, 08:18 PM
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Sorry you didn't find my response asked for a critique and you got one.

I certainly understand you wanting to see as much as possible, but I think it will be such a whirlwind trip that you'll not have time to enjoy'll be on the move the entire time. If that's how you prefer to travel, so be it.

I got 17 by counting every spot you wasn't clear to me where you planned to overnight.

Let me try again...

Since you're starting in Nelson, Abel Tasman or Queen Charlotte make sense. Do you plan to rent a car when you arrive in Nelson? If so, you could then drive to Marahau
for a few days (Motueka and Kaiteriteri also make a good base) and walk the Abel Tasman in sections via water taxi.

You can do the same for the Queen Charlotte can either stay within the sounds or near Picton or Havelock. There is a wide variety of accommodation available within the sounds. Water taxi/walk combos are a great way to see the area without committing to the entire hike. They're also easily done on your own, w/o a guide.

Regarding possible places to stop between Abel Tasman (or Marlborough Sounds/Picton) and Fox Glacier - I suggest Punakaiki - lots of nice hikes there and a perfect spot for an overnight to break up the drive to Fox.

If you're interested in driving from Te Anau to Dunedin, I suggest you take the longer route via the Catlins and perhaps overnight at Owaka, or Fortrose or Nugget Point. There's loads to see and do around here, especially if you want to hike (although time will be an issue).

I don't consider Rotorua a city...I consider Auckland, Sydney, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hobart and Invercargill (although not huge) cities.

<You make it sound as if 3 Australian states and 2 island are mutually exclusive when in fact they are the same thing -- 3 places; not 5.>

Not sure how you figure this, but it doesn't matter. I'm looking at distance and travel time vs time on the ground spend exploring the places you want to see.
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Old Jan 9th, 2011, 08:50 PM
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mpkp: agree with Mel. Most of your plan actually is nuts (2 days in Tasmania???). Take her "unhelpful" advice.
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Old Jan 10th, 2011, 04:06 AM
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When I say Hobart -- I meant Tasmania and that is where I expect to fly into -- not necessarily where I would stay on the island. Christchurch was because I needed to be there to fly out not as a real stopping point. Dunedin I thought was a place to base to see the Albatross and Penguins.

Nelson was just a city that I could fly into from Rotorua to get to the South Island -- not necessarily where I would stay. And maybe there is a better city to fly into.

However, using what you have said;

I think it might be better to use the water taxis-- Doing that is it possible to do a one day hike in the Queen Charlotte islands and then do a one day hike in Abel Tasman. Are they close enough to each other that that can be done -- That would be the 15th Queen Charlotte the 16th Abel Tasman and then on the 17th to Punanaiki. That would move everything else up a day which could then be spent in Tasmania giving me a third day there. Additionally I am thinking of taking one day from the Blue Mountains and putting it in Tasmania which would give 4 days there. Or is 4 days there still nuts???

I will look into the option of Owaka or one of the others you mentioned instead of Invercargill.
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Old Jan 10th, 2011, 02:48 PM
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<Doing that is it possible to do a one day hike in the Queen Charlotte islands and then do a one day hike in Abel Tasman. Are they close enough to each other that that can be done>

It's a 158 km drive (2:15) from Motueka (near Abel Tasman) to Picton (near Marlbrough Sounds). So you're looking at a ~4.5 hour return drive, coupled with a 3-6 hour hike (depending on which section you choose to walk). Whether or not that's a viable option is up to you. You'll want to look at water taxi schedules and book ahead of time.

What specifically do you want to see in TAS? You won't be able to venture very far in four days, but you could explore Hobart, Mt Field National Park, the Huon Valley, Mt Wellington, Port Arthur...all of these are relatively close to Hobart. If you're thinking about Cradle Mountain, you'd do better to fly in/out of Launceston.

Here's a list of accommodation in the Catlins:
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Old Jan 10th, 2011, 03:35 PM
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Too much too fast. You can't see it all in 4 weeks and at this pace it sounds like you're just trying to check items off a list. Here are some suggestions since you wanted your itinerary critique.

1. Skip Auckland and Rotorua and fly straight on to Nelson. Spend all your time on the South Island.
2. Do either Abel Tasman or Queen Charlotte - not both of them.
3. Take you time driving down the West Coast and see the sights. It is a curvy 2 lane road with lots of rental campers and buses on it. You will not make time on this road.
4. There are a lot of activities and beautiful scenery around Queenstown - its worth 2 nights.
5. 1 day hike of Milford Track - skip it since it will require a full day. Instead drive to Milford Sound, do a cruise and then do the day walks along the road. If the weather is nice, you can do a piece of the Routeburn Track up to Key Summit.
6. Australia - "Fly to Blue Mountains". Is there an airport there? We flew to Sydney, rented a car and drove to the Blue Mountains.

Melnq8 has some good advice..
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Old Jan 10th, 2011, 04:01 PM
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I think trying to fly through to Nelson is too much flying and too many chances to go wrong -- We already have 3 flights to get there. The day in Auckland can maybe be skipped as there was not much I wanted to do there. Rotorua has so many interesting things that I really do not want to skip it but could maybe go there after spending the night in Auckland. Would not drive there the day we land because of jet lag -- we did that in Ireland and came close to falling asleep and killing ourselves. Not doing that again. But we could head on the 11th and then have another day to spend somewhere else. Probably another day on the South Island. Not sure where though.

As for the Queen Charlottes and Abel Tasman -- I was thinking of staying midway between the two and wondering if that would allow us to be about 1 hours drive from either of them. Not doing a 2 + hour drive each way -- I had the impression that they were very different -- maybe that impression is incorrect.

I don't mind not doing a day on the Milford Track if the cruise and day walks would be better.

I do not know that there is an airport in the Blue Mountains -- we would probably fly to Sydney and pick up a car there. I know a lot of people do it as a day trip but I wanted to find a place to spend at least two nights. Again there is a lot to see there and I did want to see some of it.

I never implied I was set in stone on the original itinerary. Anytime I travel I come up with something and then refine it. I am at the start of this planning and these places interest me. You are right -- I have not driven there and do not know how long it will take. I did look up AAA for their times.

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Old Jan 10th, 2011, 04:33 PM
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hello mpkp

We're doing our first trip to NZ-OZ in March, and we understand about the 'do it fast, or don't do it at all" problem. Your itinerary is longer than mine, i.e it covers more area, but the pace is about the same.

Thus, my review comes not from my experience, obviously, with either country, but from my experience of planning in general.

First, I have a copy of the AAA spiral guide for Oz, and if you're familiar with the spiral guides, you know they are for folks that roll that stone fast, gather no moss. And even they don't advocate fewer than 5 full days in TAZ, or 6 nights. (which is still very fast, especially given what they try to cover.)

Second, it can help to try and divide one's itinerary into 'themes.' Here's how I see your itinerary:

1. Jet lag part
2. Geothermal stuff part
3. Mid-island hike part.
4. Glacier hike part - connections between 3 and 5 are long, I think at some point you need a 'day off' - see below.
5. Milford part - theme is clear, but maybe a day off might not hurt around this point, if only to do laundry and other simple chores.
6. The 'Albatross drive' to Christchurch part.
7. Tasmania part (as planned, really only Hobart area)
8. Kangaroo island (purpose? Also, how connect to 7 and 9?)
9. Sydney/Blue Mountains part.

I think you might have a few too many parts. Sacrifice some to flesh out the others.
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Old Jan 10th, 2011, 05:01 PM
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We spent two nights in the Blue Mountains. Here's what we did. Flew into Sydney (we were coming from Brisbane), picked up the rental car at the airport and drove to Katoomba for two nights. We did some of the Blue Mountain sights that day but the weather was overcast and we weren't able to see the Three Sisters.

Next day, weather was worse with downpours so instead of hiking we drove to Jenolan Caves. (The normal road into the area was closed and in dense fog we drove the road thru Edith and down a very steep hairpin road into Jenolan Caves. That road is not for the faint hearted driver.) Back to Katoomba for the night and another try at seeing the Three Sisters but it was still socked in. Jenolan Caves were different but not so special for a first trip to Australia.

Next morning, it was still raining. We did several of the short walks (again the Three Sisters were socked in), then mid-day drove to Sydney, returned the rental car and took a taxi to our Sydney Hotel.

The Blue Mountains are gorgeous. However, if you have a stretch of bad weather, two nights on a tight itinerary is one night too many.
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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 07:27 AM
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If we gave up Australia I was thinking that the itinerary would be something like this:

12/10 arrive Auckland from the US -- get a good night's sleep!
12/11 pick up car and drive to Rororua
12/12 Rotorua
12/13 Rotorua -- to Tongariro Alpine Crossing
12/14 do the 1 day Tongariro Alpine Crossing
12/15 Transfer to Blenheim -- drive or fly? On to a place to stay in the Queen Charlottes?
12/16 Queen Charlotte Trail
12/17 Queen Charlotte Trail
12/18 Drive to Abel Tasman
12/19 Abel Tasman -- day walks or boat etc
12/20 Abel Tasman
12/21 Start drive to Fox Glacier where to overnight? Or go halway and spend 2 nights then on to the glacier?
12/22 Continue drive to Fox Glacier where to overnight?
12/23 Arrive Fox glacier on 12/23
12/24 Fox Glacier
12/25 Drive to Wanaks
12/26 Wanaka
12/27 Te Anau
12/28 Te Anau
12/29 Te Anau
12/30 Invercargill or can we go all the way to Stewart ?Island easily from Te Anau in one day?
12/31 boat to Stewart Island
1/1 Stewart Island
1/25 Stewart Island
1/3 boat to Invercargill and begin Southern Route to Dunedin
1/4 overnight on the Southern Scenic Route
1/5 Dunedin
1/6 Dunedin
1/7 Drive to Christchurch.
1/8 or 1/9 home

Is this a better itinerary if we give up Australia. However, we may end up flying through Australia and have to stop at least overnight in Sydney to get home.
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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 02:20 PM
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I expect that you will have a fair bit of fine-tuning to do on this, mpkp, but there are two recommendations that I would make at this stage:

1. 12/21 -- overnight at Punakaiki and drive to Fox Glacier the next day.

2. Try to allow time to come from Dunedin to Christchurch via the inland route (Omarama, Twizel, Pukaki, etc). It is a far nicer drive than up the coastal route and it would be a shame if you missed the scenery that the inland route offers.

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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 02:59 PM
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Just a few comments:

<12/21 Start drive to Fox Glacier where to overnight?>

I guess you missed this when I suggested it the first time mpkp, but I wholeheartedly agree with Kiwi-Rob...Punakaiki.

<12/15 Transfer to Blenheim -- drive or fly? On to a place to stay in the Queen Charlottes?>

Tongariro is about a ~300 km drive from Wellington, then it's a ~three hour ferry crossing to Picton, then a 25 minute drive to Blenheim, so you might find it faster to fly, although I don't know which airlines/airports might serve this route.

Queen Charlotte is accessible from Picton and Havelock.

<12/30 Invercargill or can we go all the way to Stewart ?Island easily from Te Anau in one day?>

The drive from Te Anau to Bluff (where the ferry leaves from) is 182 km, so you can easily do it the same day. You'll just need to time your arrival with the ferry crossing to Stewart Island. Current departures are 8, 9:30, 11 and 5.

<1/3 boat to Invercargill and begin Southern Route to Dunedin>

The ferry will drop you back at Bluff, where you can collect your car and carry on to Dunedin, which is about a 3.5 hour drive.

Agree with Rob about allowing yourself enough time to return to Christchurch via the inland route. The drive along the east coast of the SI isn't very pretty.
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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 04:38 PM
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I guess you missed this when I suggested it the first time mpkp, but I wholeheartedly agree with Kiwi-Rob...Punakaiki.

I did not miss it but I wanted to know if we should take 2 days to drive it and, if so, where we should stop for both days -- or should we stay there two nights or use it later?

If we drive the inland route back to Christchurch do we need to do it over 2 days? If so -- where should we stop. Maybe the second night on the other side could be moved here?

Also -- should we just go straight to Dunedin or stop somewhere along the Southern Route -- if straight to Dunedin then we might use that night getting back to Christchurch.

Don't know how we would get to Nelson/Picton/Blenheim if we do the Tongariro crossing -- Would it be easier to go back to Rotorua to fly down? Do we need a car for the Queen Charlottes? If not we could wait until after that to pick it up. There are flights from Hawkes Bay -- would that be an option? How far would that drive be?
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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 05:16 PM
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Punakaiki is pretty much the halfway point between Abel Tasman and the glaciers. One night should be sufficient, unless you want to explore the hikes in the area. We once spent three nights there, but that's not something most first time visitors do.

If driving the inland route from Dunedin to Christchurch via Mt Cook, Twizel, Lake Tekapo, I'd definitely suggest at least one night in route at Mt Cook, more if you want to hike or do the glacier trip, etc.

The drive from Bluff to Dunedin is only 3.5 hours, so you could easily wander through the Catlins enroute and just make a day of the drive, without having to spend a night there. It really comes down to what you want to see and do in the area. If you hope to do some in-depth exploration, you'll need more time, but if you're just looking for a scenic drive, you can do it all in one day.

Regarding the Marlbrough Sounds...whether or not you need a car depends on where you plan to stay and what you want to see and do. If you want to drive Queen Charlotte Drive (which I suggest you do, it's gorgeous) you'll need a car.

There are lots of accommodation options in the area - some are accessible via road, others are only accessible via water taxi. If you arrive in Picton from the ferry, you can easily pop on a water taxi (you must book ahead) and go to accommodation in the Sounds. If you stay in Picton or Havelock, you'll need some sort of transport to your accommodation. If you arrive via plane in Blenheim, you'll need some form of transport to get to the Sounds. If you're taking a guided hike, this might all be moot, as transport might be provided. It's impossible to answer this question w/o knowing your specific plans.

I can't help with your other queries, but perhaps now you'll appreciate why I posted all those questions and things to think about in my first 'unhelpful' post. Logistics are a major factor.
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