Dunedin or Mt Cook?

Old Feb 4th, 2020, 12:01 PM
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Dunedin or Mt Cook?

We will be driving in a few weeks down the West coast of SI visiting Franz Josef Glacier, Wanaka and Te Anau. All this is pending roads being open etc. We originally thought to to go Mt Cook from Te Anau for a couple days before going on to Christchurch. However we are wondering if instead of Mt Cook a visit to Dunedin would be a-nice change of pace? WDYT? Is there a marked difference in scenery on the drives? Other thoughts are appreciated.
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Old Feb 4th, 2020, 01:40 PM
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I live in Dunedin, but I'd say go to Aoraki Mt. Cook, spend two nights, if you can. It's one of my favorite places,with stunning views and easy walks. Normally, it's difficult to book accommodation in Aoraki Mt. Cook, but with new travel restrictions related to the Wuhan coronavirus, I expect there have been many cancellations. If you'd like to self cater, Aoraki Court Motel would be a good choice. Ask for a room on outside, as these have the best views. https://www.aorakicourt.co.nz/

Dunedin/the Otago Peninsula is a 4 hour drive from Aoraki Mt. Cook. It's a nice drive through the Waitaki Valley, then from Oamaru down to Dunedin. Dunedin/the Otago Peninsula is great for travelers who'd like to see some of NZ's wildlife, such as endangered NZ seal lions, endangered Yellow Eyed Penguins, endangered Northern Royal Albatross, as well as many other types of birds and a good many NZ fur seals. The city is known for its heritage architecture and beautiful, surfable beaches. This was NZ's first great city made rich by the 1860s Central Otago Gold Rush and the first shipments of frozen meat to England.
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Old Feb 4th, 2020, 03:26 PM
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I agree with Diamantinaís points on the merits of both but I am honestly torn on the recommendation.

In terms of destination, Aoraki Mt. Cook will offer more walks out in nature but whether or not you will be able to do it will depend on the weather when you are there. And you will already have seen glaciers on the West Coast.

Dunedin has more indoor activities with the museums but you will have you fill in the other cities. The wildlife on the Otago Peninsula is worthwhile and may be different than what you are experiencing elsewhere in NZ.

As for the drive, I would tip the scale in favor of the Catlins, which you could do between Te Anau and Dunedin. It is relaxing with plenty of things to see and do all along the way, although most of it is outdoors and possibly impacted by the weather too.

Hope the road conditions and weather improve by the time you reach South Island.
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Old Feb 4th, 2020, 06:19 PM
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Thank you, both, for your great comments. Just the info we need to decide. We’ll ponder this and of course, stay tuned to the weather conditions.
I'm using NZ Transportation app for road conditions. Hope thats a reliable one.
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Old Feb 4th, 2020, 11:52 PM
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I pretty much agree with and Diamantina. Mt Cook has the edge in terms of scenery and, if I remember correctly we managed to fit in two v.nice stroll there - the Hooker Valley and the Red Tarns. I think we may have short changed Dunedin somewhat but really liked Oamaru, the penguins and the town. The Catlins are pretty special so if you can fit in the drive there as suggested by TP, I would recommend it. Some very nice short walks along the way. Some photos and detail of our time in most of these places on our blog @ https://accidentalnomads.com/category/new-zealand/ .

On our last trip we took a diversion to do a bike ride the central outago rail trail from Naesby. A pretty little Art Deco Town from where we headed to St Bathans, agin a pleasant place, if a fair way off the beaten path!

Last edited by crellston; Feb 4th, 2020 at 11:57 PM.
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Old Feb 5th, 2020, 03:50 PM
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I agree with tripplanner001, that a drive though the Catlins is worth doing, preferably with an overnight stay. More info here: https://www.catlins.org.nz/assets/Br...9-and-2020.pdf
As tripplanner001 mentioned, you can easily visit the the Catlins enroute from Te Anau to Dunedin/the Otago Peninsula, spend a day or two in Dunedin/the Otago Peninsula if you have the time to spare, before continuing north to Oamaru then Aoraki Mt. Cook via the Waitaki Valley (home to dams, a fossil trail and the weird Elephant Rocks, and a tiny but excellent wine region). I agree with Crellston that Oamaru is a lovely town, one of the most interesting for its size, with good food, wildlife, a pretty Botanic Garden, a small but beautifully maintained Victorian Precinct that includes the unique Steampunk HQ.

Tripplanner001 also reminded me that Dunedin does have a variety of outdoor and indoor attractions, which offer more options for a rainy day. Indoor attractions include the Otago Museum (free admission), Toitu Settlers Museum (free admission), Dunedin Public Art Gallery (free admission), Speight's Brewery tours, Emerson's Brewery tours, Olveston House. Outdoor attractions include the wonderful 30-hectare Botanic Garden, Larnach Castle and Gardens (more of a mansion than a true castle), Glenfalloch Gardens (which has a beautiful, highly rated restaurant), Baldwin Street (an unusually steep street), Orokonui Ecosanctuary, Saturday morning Otago Farmers Market at the Railway Station (NZ's most photographed building), Tunnel Beach Track, the Otago Peninsula, and many beaches (which, after all this rain, should be much cleaner in a week--unless we get another deluge). Then there's the Taieri Gorge Railway, which is an indoor attraction, but best done on a clear, sunny day.

The drive from Dunedin to Oamaru is also interesting and scenic (providing you take some detours off the main route).
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Old Feb 6th, 2020, 07:13 PM
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Thank you! I so appreciate this info. I think we are going to see whatís what in TeAnau and our Milford Sound plans and decide at that point.
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Old Feb 9th, 2020, 01:39 PM
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As implied above, I'd take advantage of possibly diminished numbers of Chinese travelers, and try to book into Mt Cook (note that it's another weather-dependent location).

I do like Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula as well.

crellston mentioned Naseby.. the "Pigroot" via the Maniototo is very scenic, State Hwy 85 but probably not a priority for "first timers".
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Old Feb 9th, 2020, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by mlgb View Post
As implied above, I'd take advantage of possibly diminished numbers of Chinese travelers, and try to book into Mt Cook (note that it's another weather-dependent location).

I do like Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula as well.

crellston mentioned Naseby.. the "Pigroot" via the Maniototo is very scenic, State Hwy 85 but probably not a priority for "first timers".
Thank you. We already have a res at Mt Cook which can be canceled so we are ok on that front. Now just waiting for clarity on Milford Sound before making any decision.

Last edited by yestravel; Feb 9th, 2020 at 05:48 PM.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 10:50 PM
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Mount Cook it will be. We bailed on Franz Josef glacier due to predicted rain. Its looking like the Milford Sound will be a go. Unless this tropical storm hitting Sunday and Monday does more damage or impacts what has been fixed.
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Old Feb 15th, 2020, 05:26 AM
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Thatís great news. Fingers crossed that the weather continues to improve for you.
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Old Feb 24th, 2020, 08:15 PM
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We arrived at Mount Cook. Good choice. Thanks, everyone.


Mt Cook from afar.

From our lodging
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Old Feb 24th, 2020, 09:07 PM
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Gorgeous! I hope you enjoy every bit of it.
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Old Feb 25th, 2020, 03:10 PM
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Dazzling weather again! Beautiful photos that make me want to be there, too!

I'm guessing it was fairly warm as well?

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Old Feb 25th, 2020, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Diamantina View Post
Dazzling weather again! Beautiful photos that make me want to be there, too!

I'm guessing it was fairly warm as well?
I cant complain about the weather we have had. It was ~ 12, very comfortable starting out on the Hooker Valley track this am. Its probably 21-22 now. Perfect . Forecast is cloudy with wind and rain late in the day. Ill take it.


On the Hooker Valley Track
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