glaciers or other options?

Sep 11th, 2003, 05:25 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2003
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glaciers or other options?

Planning trip to NZ/OZ for late April. Preliminary itinerary provides two days for Christchurch to glaciers(via train,coach) to Queenstown. I have learned that I will arrive at glaciers about 5:30pm and need to depart 8:00am next morning for coach to Q. Will I be able view the glaciers w/ this schedule. (I have seen glaciers in Alaska - so I don't need to walk/tour them.) I also do not want to drive the Greymouth to Q route.
If I won't be able to "see" glaciers, are there alternative sightseeing attractions (Mt Cook?)that would be better option. I hope those of you who have experienced NZ will respond. Thanks!
(FYI - Doubtful Sound, Dunedin are on our itinerary)
slim is offline  
Sep 11th, 2003, 07:56 AM
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I don't know why you would arrive at the glaciers as late as 5:30pm, unless you left CChurch late in the day - it is only about a 400km journey. Likewise, it is about another 400km to Qtown. Even in the early evening, it is a short drive to viewpoints that will allow you to see the lower reaches of either (Fox or Franz Josef) glacier. The glaciers are worth seeing, if you can do it, but you can certainly also visit Mt. Cook on the way to Qtown. That trip should save you about 100km over the west coast glacier route. If you can afford it, you could take a helicopter ride out of Mt. Cook that will allow you to rise over the top of the Southern Alps and see the glaciers that come off the west side and descend toward the coast.
ALF is offline  
Sep 11th, 2003, 09:20 AM
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To clarify my initial post, tranz apline leaves Christchurch in early morning, arrives Greymouth about 1:00pm, than coach to Franz Josef arriving at about 5:30pm. Next day, coach to Q leaves at 8:00am. Have not been able to find alternate arrangements to glaciers that have shorter travel time. Therefore, my inquiry -- will I even see the glaciers after all that travel?
Any and all feedback is appreciated!
slim is offline  
Sep 11th, 2003, 09:34 AM
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Can you stay a day at one of the glaciers and depart on that 8 AM bus the following day? I went ice hiking this summer (took a helicopter up to the glacier) at Franz Josef and it was one of the highlights of my trip. THe town is really cute as well so it's worth a day and a half stop.
Abby43 is offline  
Sep 11th, 2003, 11:40 AM
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That really isn't giving yourself much time to climb to the glaciers (Franz Josef or Fox) We were there in March and arrived late in the day and had a difficult time getting back to the guide bus and to the motel. You might really consider spending an additional day so that you can see and climb the riverbed up to the glacier caves.

basically you are out in a remote area so please do yourself a favor and stay IN the little village. Our motel was about 3 miles outside and pretty isolated. We had a similar time constraint as you have and since we wanted to really see the glacier we were never able to get to a restaurant or have a dinner. Don't get yourself in a similar boat and also try not to stay at Glacier Gateway - it was really remote!!
LN is offline  
Sep 11th, 2003, 12:56 PM
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Hi, slim! This past Feb we took the train/coach from Christchurch to Franz Josef - wonderful, scenic trip. The train was a bit delayed and we found that the coach will wait until the train arrives so there is no need to worry about tight connections. If you let them know when booking, the coach will drop you off at your motel destination and pick you up in the morning as well. We stayed at the Punga Grove Motel which is one block from "town" with delightful people (Anne and John)running the motel, outdoor hot tub available in a fern setting, washer/dryer, good view of the glacier. In Feb it stayed light until at least 7:00, possibly later - remember having time to sit outside and enjoy the glacier view for quite some time after settling in. We stayed the following day before departing on the coach to Q at 8:00 AM and agree with Abby and LN that if possible, indulge yourself with that full day. The coach trips all have multiple stops to stretch, take pictures, lunch breaks, etc. and it's nice to have the luxury of someone else doing the driving while you enjoy the amazing beauty New Zealand has to offer. Not sure about your plans after Q, but we rented a car, drove to Te Anau where we stayed a few days (Radford's Motel -another great place to stay) to experience Milford Sound. Then we drove towards Dunedin but plans changed as I realized our car had to be turned in by 8:00AM. We passed through Dunedin (plan to return one day) and stayed the night (saw the penguin colony) and most of the following day in Oamaru. On to Ashurton that afternoon to get us a bit closer to Christchurch for the early morning car return. You will love New Zealand and thanks for helping me to relive our recent trip which was one of our most memorable travel experiences.
Gynna is offline  
Mar 24th, 2004, 10:32 PM
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We just got back from NZ and took the coach in the opposite direction (Qtown-Greymouth) and got into Franz Josef at 4:30pm. The Shuttle that the hotel arrainged for us left town at 5pm and would pick us up at either 6 or 7. I would think that you might be able to get a pick-up at 6pm and return at 7pm. In the one hour we had, we could only walk maybe half way to the glacier face though, we thought it was enough. I was told that the round trip to the glacier face and back took 1 hour and 45 minutes approx. Do keep in mind the days are getting shorter there, the sunset was at about 8pm.
lorik is offline  
Mar 24th, 2004, 10:44 PM
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I'd like to add that we stayed in Franz Josef at the Punga Grove Motel (wonderful place) so we were at least in town, pretty close the the glacier. Beware, in Fox some people got dropped off at some way-out-of-the-way places! We really would have liked to stay at least another half day to walk up to the glacier but do not regret anything. The trip by coach is a long one but not as long as the Christchurch to Qtown via Mt cook trip, but the scenery at Mt Cook was great. Can't really think which one we would have chosen to miss... Good luck on deciding.
lorik is offline  
Mar 25th, 2004, 09:29 AM
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I suspect it'll be getting dark by 5.30pm, so you won't see a thing. Do try for the extra day. The glaciers were the highlight of my NZ trip. It's a long way to travel just to stay in a little town and leave early the next morning.
margo_oz is offline  
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