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Itinerary help: 14 day NZ+Sydney trip in September


Jun 10th, 2015, 08:52 AM
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Itinerary help: 14 day NZ+Sydney trip in September


My husband and I will be in New Zealand and Sydney for our honeymoon in the first week of September. We are mostly interested in experiencing the beautiful nature of south island. We also want to spend a few days in Auckland and Sydney because we've heard great things about these 2 cities especially for coffee and craft beer. We are in our late 20's and have experiences in long day hikes and multi-day backpacking.

Tentative Itinerary:
Day 1: Arrive in Auckland at 5:45am - Breakfast and hotel check in; explore Auckland (by public
Day 2: Fly from Auckland to Queenstown - explore Queenstown;
Day 3: Queenstown to Milford track: possibly by bus + boat or drive a rental car to Te Anau + boat to the
trail head; sleep in first hut
Day 4-7: Milford Track- Sleep in Te Anau or in Queenstown after the hike
Day 8: Queenstown - Winery and/or Sky diving (pick up a rental car if not done so on Day 2)
Day 9: Drive from Queenstown to Fox Glacier: Sky dive here if not done in QT; sleep in Fox Glacier
Day 10: Fox Glacier hike and then drive to Christchurch; sleep in Christchurch
Day 11: Fly from Christchurch to Sydney; return rental car at Christchurch airport
Day 12-13: Explore Sydney
Day 14: Fly back home from Sydney

Few things about the itinerary:
- The flights from Auckland-Queenstown and Christchurch to Sydney are already booked, but the rest of the itinerary can be flexible

- We really want to do a multi-day hike (or tramping to be more correct) to experience the wilderness.
Our biggest concern is the Milford Track in the off season. We realize the bridge along the trail has been removed and less resources in the huts. Also, there will a lot less transportation means available to the trail head. There aren't too many blogs covering this hike in the off season, so any advice or suggestion about the transportation, trail condition, hiking tips is much appreciated.

- We are still debating if we should leave out Fox Glacier but explore a different route between Queenstown and Christchurch. We learned from the forum that the drive to Fox Glacier is gorgeous and the glacier hike is a life-time experience, but the drive is long and we will miss out some highlights. Any advice?

Thanks for reading through this lengthy post. Your input is much appreciated!

flushlaba is offline  
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Jun 10th, 2015, 02:13 PM
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I'll leave the NZ advice to others, except for pointing you towards Melnq8's & Songdoc's fantastic Trip Reports.

Some great info & a really good read.

Come back if you have anything we can help you with for your 2 Sydney days.
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Jun 10th, 2015, 06:49 PM
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Access to the Milford Track in winter presents some big challenges - the boat from Te Anau Downs to Glade Wharf only operates from late Oct-April.

You'll find off season transport options here, but do be aware this is for experienced back country hikers only.


This is a heavy snow prone area; bridges (there are MANY bridges, not just one!) are removed from tracks in the off season and track damage is quite common. September is still quite cold and snowy and access to Milford Sound via road can be quite challenging let alone walking the track.

From the Milford Track website: "There are 57 avalanche paths in the area, some of which may cross the track and bring avalanche debris to the valley floor.... you must be competent at crossing large, swift, icy rivers...Mackinnon Pass is not marked and is often covered in deep snow..."
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Jun 10th, 2015, 06:54 PM
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Forgot to mention that we often visit the SI in the winter months, Sept in particular. Do not underestimate the power of the weather - when the NZ weather gods rear their heads, it can get ugly in a hurry. It's very difficult to plan a packed itinerary this time of year - days are short and cold, roads often affected by black ice and sometimes flooding. You have not an inch of wiggle room built into your itinerary for potential weather issues.
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Jun 10th, 2015, 10:12 PM
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Bokhara2, thank you for your response.

Melnq8, Thanks so much for replying to my post. I have read your replies all over the forum and they have all been so helpful. I was really hoping I could get your advice. You are right. I forgot to factor in the possibility of delay due to the weather condition. If I remove the 2 days to Fox Glacier, it will give me more flexibility for the rest of my itinerary.

I was unsure of Milford track mostly because I couldn't find many travel blogs that cover their experiences for this track in the spring. My husband and I are experienced hikers. We mostly do backcountry hikes and we have experienced in crossing rivers in our previous backpacking trip, however, I am aware of the potential danger of this track. We might just do the in and out hike in the valley instead of climbing through Mackinnon Pass or we might just choose a different hike.

Do you have any recommendations on any day hike or multi-day hike around Queenstown that is more doable in the winter?

Thanks again!
flushlaba is offline  
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Jun 11th, 2015, 07:15 AM
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I think you'll find the same potential issues for most of the multi-day hikes in the area, but you could get lucky with the weather too. An alternative is to walk a few of them as day walks, you can often get to the first hut if there's no track damage, but you'll want to check current conditions when you arrive. You're really spoiled for choice. Some ideas here:

The Routeburn (access via Milford Road and Glenorchy):


The Kepler near Te Anau:


The Caples-Greenstone near Glenorchy (Kinloch):


The Rees-Dart (accessible from Paradise, outside of Glenorchy):


Lake Rere is a good day walk - I found it challenging, but I'm a lot older than you! It's accessible via an hour's drive from Glenorchy:


Some other options:

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Jun 12th, 2015, 05:09 AM
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One full day in Sydney, everyone will say it's not nearly enough (and they'd be correct) but if you only have one full day, go to Circular Quay and buy a day ticket for the harbour ferries. In a day you can go to Manly for Lunch and Watson's Bay pub for sunset and dinner, all for a princely sum of $2.50.

Sydney is much like SanFrancisco in being nicer from the water.
mareeS55 is offline  
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Jun 16th, 2015, 05:19 PM
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Hi Shan,

As MareeS55 said, a full day in Sydney might not me enough There is heaps to do in this great city!

I am also planning a couple of weeks in New Zealand during my research I found this awesome interactive guide that provides some useful information about both Australia and New Zealand.

It also includes some suggested itineraries for New Zealand and Australia (maybe it can help for your day in Sydney too).


I hope you find it useful!

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Jul 12th, 2015, 03:37 PM
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Thank you for your inputs, everyone!
I got caught up with work and haven't had a chance to plan the trip. I am looking into multiple day hikes now instead of the 5 day Milford Track. Thank you, Melnq8, for the suggestions!

PepeDF: We will have 2 and a half days in Sydney from our final itinerary. Thanks for the link! It is so easy to navigate through the site to get to know more about NZ.

I will keep you all posted with my final itinerary. Thank you all so much again!
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