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Help with 16.5 days on New Zealand South Island

Old Oct 8th, 2013, 07:18 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Oct 2003
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Help with 16.5 days on New Zealand South Island

My DH and I are traveling in November arriving in QT and departing from Wellington. We are looking at renting a car in QT when we arrive and dropping off in Picton taking ferry to Wellington to fly home. torn between the west coast or seeing Mt Cook. The following is iterinary trying to do all. Is this too much?
Day 1: Fly from Sydney to QT arriving afternoon. Drive to Te Anu
Day 2: Drive to Milford Sound, cruise, drive back to Te Anu stopping along the way for photos and hikes (is it too much to drive to QT after this?)
Day 3: Drive to QT, zip line, luge, see town ( staying at Villa Lago)
Day 4: stay in QT day trip to Glenorchy for dart river boat, horseback ride
Day 5: stay in QT, LOTR sights, Arrowtown, maybe mt bike
day 6: Drive to Mt Cook, Glacier Express boat ride
Day 7: see Lake Tekapo, hike, drive to Wanaka
Day 8: see puzzling world, toy museum, drive to Franz Josef Glacier
Day 9: FJG and Fox Glacier hike, heli ride
Day 10: Drive up coast stopping someplace like Wesport
Day 11: Take jet boat ride on Buller Gorge drive to Nelson (staying at Crow's Nest)
Day 12-14 stay in Nelson with day trips to Golden Bay, Abel Tasman
Day 15- drive queen Charlotte track, take ferry to Wellington
Day 16: see Te Papa museum, botanical gardens
Day 17- fly home and back to reality

Is this too fast a pace? I love the Alps but wondering if adding Mt Cook is too much. Or should I add another night around Lake Tekapo? Do I leave out west coast glaciers and drive to westort via Arthurs Pass? Does Wanaka warrant 2 nights to drive to Mt Aspiring Park? Any restaurant suggestions? any special adventures recommended?
Only QT and Nelson hotels booked. Any hotels or sheep farms recommended?
Thanks
la_dolce_vita is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2013, 08:14 PM
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<Day 2: Drive to Milford Sound, cruise, drive back to Te Anu stopping along the way for photos and hikes (is it too much to drive to QT after this?)>

IMO yes. But...it's done all the time. The bus tour from QT to Milford and back is a 13 hour trek (minus the hikes). It's a heck of a long day, most of which is spent on a bus.

If you return to QT the same day, you're looking at six hours of drive time alone. While you can do this and a cruise, you'll be hard pressed to also fit in hiking. It is quite possible to drive from Te Anau to Milford, take a cruise and hike to say, Key Summit (about three hours return) and then drive back to Te Anau if you plan well and get an early start.

The joy of self-driving is the flexibility to do what you want, at a slower pace than the tour buses, so why not take advantage of that?

There are loads of hiking opportunities along Milford Road. LOADS.

Good on ya for staying at Villa del Lago - great place.

Your itinerary goes a bit wonky at Day 6. First off, you're backtracking, which I assume you're doing because you want to see both Mt Cook and Franz Josef - a hard ask for such limited time.

Nelson to Golden Bay is a long day trip - why stay in Nelson if you're interest lies in Abel Tasman? They're about an hour apart, much longer to Golden Bay. Why not stay close to where you want to explore? Marahau, Motueka, Upper Moutere, Kaiteriteri or in the case of Golden Bay, Takaka or even Pohara?

<Is this too fast a pace?>

It would be for me. Too much moving, not enough doing.

<Day 10: Drive up coast stopping someplace like Wesport>

I suggest Punakaiki as a more scenic alternative.

<Day 15- drive queen Charlotte track, take ferry to Wellington>

Assume you mean Queen Charlotte Drive, which is fine, but don't forget about the two hours it takes to get from Nelson to Picton and the time it takes to make the QC drive.
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2013, 08:25 PM
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With so few days, something has to give IMO.

<Or should I add another night around Lake Tekapo?>

Lake Tekapo doesn't really warrant an overnight unless you have an interest in the observatory. A second night in Mt Cook would give you a full day to explore the place, and that's not a bad idea, particularly if you enjoy walking - there are some great tracks. Tekapo and Mt Cook are only about 90 minutes apart.

<Do I leave out west coast glaciers and drive to westort via Arthurs Pass?>

Not sure what you mean here. Westport is north of the glaciers off the same highway. Arthur's pass cuts across to Christchurch near Greymouth, which is south of Westport.

<Does Wanaka warrant 2 nights to drive to Mt Aspiring Park>

ABSOLUTELY. But you'll need to cut back elsewhere. Any reason why Puzzling World and the Toy Museum are on your wish list? Your time could be much better spent in Mt Aspiring. Man-made paid attraction vs. spectacular national park? I know which one I'd choose.

<you can Any restaurant suggestions? any special adventures recommended?>

Yes. Once you settle the itinerary.
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2013, 08:41 PM
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I appreciate your advice. Just to clarify, I will be staying in Te Anu first night mabe second. Driving to Milford is from Te Anu second day. Upon your advice I will either see Mt Cook or west coast glaciers. I love alpine scenery, spring flowers etc... What is more scenic? This would also allow a whole day in Wanaka for a hike in Mt Aspiring Park.
la_dolce_vita is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2013, 08:43 PM
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I booked my Nelson hotel awhile back and since realized Motueka would have been better location. I agree being closer to Abel Tasman would have been better.
la_dolce_vita is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2013, 08:59 PM
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Understood. Just pointing out that if you choose to drive from Milford to QT the second day instead of just back to Te Anau, you're looking at a six hour drive, so it'll be difficult to also fit in hikes that day. Also just pointing out that people make the trek from as far as Queenstown (QT-Te Anau-Milford-QT) in a day, (mostly by bus), but I certainly don't recommend it.



If you're asking which is more scenic, Mt Cook or the West Coast, I can't answer, as it's so subjective.

You can't go wrong with either, it just comes down to which you'd rather see, or if you're willing to spend all that time in the car on such a short visit in order to see both.
Melnq8 is offline  
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