I need help planning my trip to SI

Mar 23rd, 2016, 07:06 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2016
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I need help planning my trip to SI

Hello guys,

I'm planning to spare a week in April to see some of South Island of Newzealand.

I'll be traveling from Gold Coast, Australia, and I don't have plan in mind. I want to see Queenstown, Milford sound, and then the best scenic route to Christchurch as I'm planning to fly to Queenstown and fly from Christchurch or vise versa.
I want to rent a car and drive my way.
Any thoughts will be appreciated.
BinSal is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2016, 10:53 AM
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Hi BinSal -

Flying into QT and out of Christchurch or vice versa is a grand idea, especially with so little time.

You've got the start of a good itinerary - depending on what time your flight gets into QT, you might head directly to Te Anau for two nights, dedicate an entire day to the Milford trip (every minute of which is needed - lots of reasons to stop en route), then drive to QT for a few nights.

Then perhaps work your way to Wanaka for a night or two, then head to Christchurch, perhaps with a night or two in Mt Cook and of course a visit to Lake Tekapo, which you'll drive right through anyway.

IMO the most scenic route from Mt Cook/Tekapo to Christchurch is via SH8 to Geraldine, then 72/79 via Mt Hutt and Rakaia Gorge (do take the opportunity to walk the Rakaia Gorge Track if you have time)and then on to Christchurch via Darfield or Oxford or thereabouts.
Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 24th, 2016, 12:09 AM
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Thank you very much Melnq8.

I am confused between the options, the best time in terms of flights is QT first as the arrival time is midday and we leave in the morning from Christchurch . If we do it the other way that would mean we arrive midnight then we will loose one night flying.

If we go to Christchurch first we have the option to take the train to Arthur Pass - if we are going to see much better from the train over the car we are going to rent -

What do you think of the suggestions here with some changes to include Milford:
BinSal is offline  
Mar 24th, 2016, 12:59 AM
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If we start from QT, which most likely will be the case, don't you think going directly to Te Anau and staying for two nights and coming back to QT will be redundant?
BinSal is offline  
Mar 24th, 2016, 06:46 AM
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Hi BinSal -


No - not if you're driving. It's actually a more efficient use of time IMO. There is only one way to get from QT to Te Anau/Milford via car/bus - one road in - one road out, so you will have to drive it twice, no matter what.

HOWEVER, should you choose to take the bus/fly/cruise option ($$$$), you will only cover the route by road once.

I suggest you go directly to Te Anau because 1) you'll have time to do it the day you arrive, freeing up the entire next day to visit Milford and 2) you have to return to QT anyway, and you might as well spend your time in QT on the return - this will reduce your drive time to your next destination. If you stay in QT first, then drive to Te Anau/Milford, then drive to say, Wanaka or even Mt Cook from Te Anau or Milford, you must drive back to QT anyway, so you're in for a much longer drive than you would be had you left from QT.

The scenery from the train over Arthur's Pass isn't all that - you spend most of your time in tunnels. The drive over Arthur's Pass is prettier than the train, but the route from Greymouth to QT is quite a bit longer than going via Mt Cook - you'd need to break up the drive somewhere en route, like Hokitika or the glaciers. If you're taking that route you might as well spend some time there - I always suggest at least two nights at the glaicers.

I personally prefer this route, but with so little time you might be better taking the inland route via Lake Tekapo, which fits your initial wish list of <<>>

The link you posted is a good itinerary for those short on time who want to see Arthur's Pass (from the train anyway) and the glaciers, but it leaves virtually no time for Milford. There's only so much one can fit into a day - keep in mind the weather in NZ is quite unpredictable and can greatly affect one's plans.
Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 24th, 2016, 06:54 AM
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BinSal -

If you do choose to do the drive/fly/cruise option, you can forgo those nights in Te Anau, and perhaps free up some time to take the West Coast route back to Christchurch.

Something like this perhaps -

Arrive QT midday, explore

Drive/fly/cruise to Milford - return to QT - overnight


Drive to Wanaka - overnight - two if you can spare it

Drive to Fox or Franz Josef - overnight

Day visiting Fox and Franz Josef - overnight

Drive from Fox/Franz to Greymouth - afternoon train from Greymouth to Christchurch

Christchurch - overnight

Morning departure from Christchurch
Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 24th, 2016, 01:48 PM
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Thank you very much. So I'll be arriving miday the 19th to Queenstown, driving directly to Te Aneu.
And my flight from Christchurch will be on the 27th in the morning. I will be driving as to save $$$ so no fly or coach. I'll be visiting Milford the next day. And the rest is on you my friend plan my visit to see the best scenic route in 7 days from Queenstown to Christchurch
BinSal is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 05:28 AM
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Well, I think I already have.

You only need choose which route - West Coast or Inland Route
Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 05:47 AM
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Which one is better this time of year?
And do you think I should book for accommodation from now or it should be fine just hopping in.
I compared renting a car vs caravan and as we have a little one 3 years we found it easier to rent a car.
I'll organize my plan and post it here for you to see and suggest.

Thank you very much
BinSal is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 06:12 AM
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That's hard to say, as the weather on the SI is unpredictable. It's all good, you really can't go wrong.

Rain on the West Coast is pretty common, sometimes torrential. But the same is true for Mt Cook (and Milford, which is wet more often than not).

This site might give you an idea of what to expect:


No need to book accommodation in April, with the possible exception of Mt Cook, which has very limited accommodation. The glaciers have limited accommodation too, but less so than Mt Cook.

I prefer to have bookings, as I don't like to waste precious holiday time finding a place to stay, but there's a lot to be said for winging it too.

Happy to help with specific lodging once you've chosen your route.
Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 28th, 2016, 08:58 PM
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Hi Melnq8,

It is official now. I will be arriving to QT midday on the 19th, and leaving from CCH on the 28th in the morning:

Here is my initial planning:

Day 1 (19th): Arrive QT Midday - Head directly to Te Anau to stay overnight.
Day 2 (20th): Drive to Milford Sound in the morning, and then drive to QT in the afternoon.
Day 3 (21st): QT.
Day 4 (22nd): QT.
Day 5 (23rd): Drive to Wanaka, and stay overnight
Day 6 (24th): Drive to MT Cook in the morning, Stopping at Omarama And arriving to MT Cook.
Day 7 (25th): Exploring MT COOK.
Day 8 (26th): Leaving MT COOK via SH8 to Geraldine, then 72/79 via Mt Hutt and Rakaia Gorge and then on to Christchurch via Darfield or Oxford or thereabouts.

Day 9 (27th): CCH (Lincoin, Akaroa)

Day 10 (28th): Flying back home.

What do you think of this? Then we can discuss routes and such
BinSal is offline  
Mar 29th, 2016, 06:02 AM
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Day 2 -

Well...it's full on, that's for sure.

It seems a real shame that you can't spare a full day for Milford. And by full day, I mean full day, with a night in Te Anau on either side.

Driving from Te Anau to Milford will take two hours, then driving from Milford back to QT will take four. That's six hours of driving and not much time for seeing the place you've driven so far to see. The cruise will only take 90 minutes or so, but the drive along Milford Road is spectacular with plenty of overlooks, tracks, etc, especially if the weather gods are on your side.

I guess if that's all the time you can spare, its better than nothing, and yes, it can be done. Fingers crossed for nice weather though!

Why not stay in Christchurch on Day 9 instead of incorporating yet another drive day? About 90 minutes to Akaroa, each way. Maybe wait and see what the weather is like - Akaroa is beautiful, yes, but Christchurch also has a lot to offer for a short stay - Quake City, Segway tour of the earthquake damaged center and it's renewal, etc.

I think your routing is just fine (surprise!).

It's a fast-paced trip, but hopefully it will just whet your appetite for a longer visit in future.
Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 29th, 2016, 06:25 AM
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Thank you very much,
Now for Milford sound do you mean that I stay till late there and then instead of driving to QT I stay at Te Anue?
My planning is I'll make it a full day, but instead of staying the second night at Te Anus, I'll push my limit and drive to QT.

For day 9 , I'm going to drive from Christchurch and will come back to it.

Can you advise me with the routes that I need to follow (the best ones
BinSal is offline  
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