Itinerary questions on dream holiday


Aug 13th, 2017, 12:00 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2012
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Itinerary questions on dream holiday


My name is Mark from the Netherlands and this is my first post in a long time . Early next year my family and I are travelling to Australia and New Zealand for a sabbatical of about 13 weeks. We are now roughly determining the itinerary. This means that we will stay for about 30 days in Victoria/ South Australia, 30 days in NZ NI and 30 days in NZ SI. We will travel by campervan or large car with a big tent.

My questions are:
- could you please check the draft itinerary and let me know if this makes sense? Please note that We are with two young kids of 4 and 1 so that means that we do not want to drive for more than 4 hours on a day and that we want to stay multiple days on one destination
- do you have any alternative ideas or suggestions along the route or another route we did not think of? We like nature, short walks or hikes, cities, beaches, animals and play grounds ��. We don't like theme parks and extremely busy sights. Furthermore with the kids rafting, bungee jumping, day hikes, etc is not possible
- What sites would you exclude with two young kids?
- I also included some detailed questions in the itinerary itself

We have the following in mind:

Victoria/ South Australia:
- Melbourne: 5 nights (including flight and jetlag management)
- Lakes District: 4 nights (including family visit)
- Ballarat: 3 nights (too much?)
- Great Ocean Road (4 nights)
- Mount Gambier (2 nights, I have been here before. Any nice altrrnatives in the area?
- Coorong National Park (2 nights)
- Kangaroo Island (3 nights, is this enough?)
- Adelaide (3 nights)
On this route I have about 4 days left so suggestions are welcome

NZ North Island
- Auckland (4 nights including flight from Adelaide)
- Bay of Islands (4 nights)
- Coromandel (4 nights, too much?)
- Rotorua (4 nights, too much?)
- Lake Taupo (3 nights)
- Tongariro np (3 nights, does this make sense when not dojng the Alpjne crossing)
- Napier (4 nights, too much?)
- Wellington (4 nights including one stop along the way)
For me this route makes good sense but I could make the route a bit larger with other interesting sites. Do you have suggsstions for this?

NZ South Island
- Marlborough Sounds (3 nights including boat from North Island)
- Nelson (3 nights including Abel Tasman NP)
- Kaikoura (2 nights)
- Arthurs Pass (3 nights)
- Westland National Park (3 nights, are the glaciers suitable for kids?)
- Wanaka (3 nights)
- Te Anau ( 3 nights)
- Catlins (3 nights)
- Dunedin (3 nights)
- Oamaru (1night)
- Christchurch (3 nights)
This route is probably too ambituous, Any suggestions what to skip?

Many thanks in advance for all your ideas!

Kind regards,
Koosmien is offline  
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Aug 13th, 2017, 01:08 PM
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Lucky you having a 13 week holiday!
But exactly which months will you be here? This will influence some of the decisions made. If it's the peak season of Jan/Feb then a lot of places will be booked out and in Australia it's very hot.
My first thought is that your allocation of weeks is a bit crazy! 60 days in New Zealand is a dream holiday for those who want to get off the beaten track and into the far corners but with 2 little ones this will not be possible. I would add more time to Australia. Why no Sydney or Queensland? Sydney is a lovely city with a lot to do for all ages. Queensland has lovely beaches for a relaxing few days. I would honestly see more of Australia as you have such a long time frame.
No Queenstown in the South Island either?
North Island - 3-4 nights is okay for Auckland, Rotorua and Wellington. 3 nights in Tongariro is too many as well.
South Island - 3 nights Marlborough Sounds? It's very scenic but not much to do unless you take your own boat for fishing. 3 nights in other places is too long as well.
Are you bypassing Queenstown because it's too touristy? But from the family point of view of staying centrally and walking to everything rather than putting the kids in the car everyday it works.
tasmangirl is offline  
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Aug 13th, 2017, 04:21 PM
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Mark, what time of year?

On the South Island, you might want to turn inland at Oamaru (via Waitaki Valley) to Mt. Cook Village (alpine scenery and glacial lakes), spend a couple of nights here, then continue along the inland route to Christchurch, briefly stopping at Lake Tekapo along the way.

Even if you are not taking longer day walks, you'll find Mt. Cook village scenic, and you can certainly do short walks. Accommodation is limited and thus pricier than other places, but YHA Aoraki Mt. Cook Hostel offers more reasonably priced family rooms. There's also a Dept. of Conservation (DOC) campground a short drive from the village at the start of several walking tracks:

Mount Cook Glentanner Park Centre, a 20-drive from Mt. Cook village also offers inexpensive self-catering accommodation and a "holiday park" for those with campervans or tents.

Holiday parks of New Zealand:

To get to Mt. Cook village, you'll have to turn off the main highway ("main highway" SH8 only has one lane in each direction and runs south-north through the middle of the South Island) onto SH80 (Mt. Cook Road). This 55-km road from gorgeous Lake Pukaki to Mt. Cook village is stunning. Mt. Cook village is a cul-de-sac, only one way in or out by car or campervan.

I live in Dunedin. The city center is busy (university town), so you might want to stay on the Otago Peninsula. There's also a large holiday park behind St. Kilda beach, which is near the city center (in a suburb). There are also campgrounds for self-contained campervans in quieter, more rural areas to the north and south of the city center.
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Aug 13th, 2017, 04:33 PM
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The drive from Mt. Cook to Christchurch would take at least 4.5 hours or more (depending on which route you take after Geraldine). I know you're trying to avoid one-night stays but also long drives, but I should mention that there's a holiday park at Lake Tekapo, should you care to shorten your drive.
Lake Tekapo is about 1 hour 20 minutes from Mt. Cook village.

AA Drive distance calculator:
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Aug 13th, 2017, 09:39 PM
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Thanks for the tips already!

Sorry, I forgot to mention the actual period which will be from Christmas to the end of March. Furthermore, my wife and I have visited Australia before (queensland, northern territory, red cehtre, victoria and south australia) together so that is why we focus on the mentioned areas.

However we did not do the area between Sydney and Melbourne. Is it worthwhile? We also skipped Tasmania for this trip as it might be a bit too much?

@tasmangirl, how many weeks would you recommend for NZ at a relaxed pace? I skipped queenstown as it sounds a bit touristy or are we then missing something

@Diamantina, thanks for your tip on Mount Cook. I will look into it
Koosmien is offline  
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Aug 13th, 2017, 11:40 PM
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Lol...most people ask how quickly they can race through NZ not the other way around!
Anyway some ideas to throw in :
1. avoid landing in Auckland around the long weekend of 26-29 Jan (Auckland Anniversary holiday) as we all love our long weekends and head off to the beach, traffic is usually a nightmare and places to stay are booked out.The same with Waitangi Weekend (2-6 Feb)but this is a national holiday so it will be busy everywhere. For your sanity arrive before or after this time.
2. Auckland, BOI and Coromandel (stay in Whitianga) are good for 4 nights. BOI to Coromandel is a very very long car trip for little ones so perhaps break the journey at Orewa for the night.
Rotorua is great and lots to do and Taupo is only 1 hour away so 2 nights would be fine there. Huka Falls is a free attraction and there is a great playground/park in the city centre.
3. You could do a nice walk in the Tongariro National Park with a day trip from Taupo so no need to stay there.
4. What aabout more time in the Bay of Plenty? After Coromandel head to Tauranga and Mt Maunganui and even as far as Whakatane. Then it is only 1 hour over to Rotorua from there.
5. Not sure about Marlborough sounds as I said before. What will you do there as it could get boring and the beaches are very rocky. Spending that time in Nelson is a much better idea. Nelson has some lovely beaches and a great place in the summer and six days would be good there. Make sure you get the ferry booked soon!
6. Adding in Kaikoura means a long back track across country and then another zigzag over to Arthur's Pass. The road from Picton to Kaikoura may be fixed (ruined in earthquake in 2016)by then but might not as well.
7. Not sure what people do in Arthur's Pass for 3 nights? Walking/hiking maybe but there is not much there at all.
8. Queenstown - well not going there is a bit like me deciding I won't visit Amsterdam when I go to Europe as it's too touristy! You ARE a tourist if you are visiting NZ.
For the family its a good place for having a few days in the town centre where you can walk everywhere and take the kids on the 115 year old Earnslaw steam ship over to Walter Peak to look at sheep. They might like the gondola trip up the hill as well. When my kids were little I enjoyed holidays where we could just walk out of our accommodation and be close to attractions, beaches, parks and cafes etc. Putting the kids in the car, driving somewhere, getting out, parking etc was too much like my life in Auckland so the change was good.
tasmangirl is offline  
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Aug 14th, 2017, 12:13 AM
Join Date: May 2015
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Check distances with AA maps - it's much more accurate than Google.
Nelson to Kaikoura - 4.5 to 5 hours.
Kaikoura to Arthur's Pass - 3.5 to 4 hours.
You could go down the West Coast from Nelson via Westport and a more leisurely trip down the West Coast instead of going all the way to Kaikoura.
There's probably a minimum age for adventurous glacier trips so the kids would be too young for that but the West Coast is a great area. Only 2 places in the world have the rainforest right next to a glacier - one in Patagonia and the other right here in NZ.
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Aug 14th, 2017, 11:13 AM
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Hi tasmangirl,

Thanks for your very detailed feedback. This really helps. Especially the auckland holidah tip and

I made some changes on both the north and south island itinerary.

North island
- Auckland (4 nightS)
- BOI (4 nights)
- Orewa (1 night)
- Coromandel (3 nights)
- Bay of plenty (3 nights)
- Rotorua (3 nights)
- Lake Taupo (3 nights including Tongariro day trip)
- Napier (4 nights)
- Wellington (4 nights)

South Island
- Marlborough Sounds (2 nights)
- Nelson (4 nights)
- Westport(2 Nights)
- Around Fox glacier (3 nights)
- Wanaka (3 nights)
- Queenstown (3 nights)
- Te Anau (3 nights)
- Catlins (3 nights)
- Dunedin (3 nights)
- Oamaru (1 night)
- Lake tekapo (2 nights)
- Christchurch (3 nights)

Is there any particular must see that we are missing? And are there still places where we take more time than that there are sights? Thanks!
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Aug 14th, 2017, 02:56 PM
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Looks great Mark.
As I said before 60 days in NZ is probably everyone's dream holiday so you are having an enviable amount of time here to really look around.
There are a few places left for your next trip such as Great Barrier Island and Golden Bay so come back when the kids are older. But for this trip you are not missing out on anything. I live here and have not made it down to the Catlins yet.
We have Dutch friends and they rave about NZ's greenness, lack of population and the fact that most of NZ is quite spectacular!
If you don't like Queenstown much let me know. It does have history and character and is in a beautiful setting. When the Earnslaw steams into the original restored wharf area you can be transported back 100 years in time and that's the feeling I like. Ignore the fast jet boats next door. It is touristy and known as the adventure capital but these things bring in the $$$.
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Aug 14th, 2017, 03:28 PM
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Folks sometimes avoid Queenstown because they think it's "touristy". Yes, it is, but it is for a reason. It's gorgeous.

There are ways to avoid the tourists. With two little ones, I imagine you'll be up early and that's a good thing. Get out and about before everyone else does. Your kids would love feeding the ducks at the shore and you can enjoy a takeaway cup of coffee from a cafe nearby while watching them. Walk through the gardens. Take the gondola up to enjoy the morning views.

By mid-day, start finding ways out of town. Bob's Cove is a nice level walk and if you're up for it, hike up the lookout at the peninsula. Drive to Glenorchy and stroll the lagoon walkway there.

In the other direction is Lake Hayes, with a nice path to walk around it. We only stayed briefly in Arrowtown to rent bikes and we rode them along the Arrow River to the bungy bridge. I'm not sure if you are game for doing this with young ones. But you could get a picnic lunch and head to Rum Currie's Hut on Rafter's Rd. There are great views of the river and we were the only ones there when we went.
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Aug 16th, 2017, 12:20 AM
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Not sure what you mean by Lakes district in Victoria?
I recommend the tree top walk along the Great Ocean Road.
Not sure if you realize but this is peak holiday time in Australia esp along GOR.
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Aug 16th, 2017, 10:49 AM
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Thanks again for the tips and things to do around Queenstown

@Tasmangirl and deschenke, I am very happy that we can do this trip at a slow pace ��. Will let you kwow what I think about Queenstown. On the photos it looks gorgeous One more question, any recommendations on sights which we should visit in the areas Westport, Fox Glacier and Wanaka. I am quite overwhelmed by the options here...

@Northie, sorry but I meant the lakes entrance iso district. I know it is holiday time but this was the only time that I could get time off. So I think we have to deal with it... are there any particular sights we should really avoid in this period due to the crowds? Or do you have tips to escape them (a bit)?
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Aug 16th, 2017, 01:55 PM
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I've not traveled with young ones, but I'll try to restrict my answers as to what I think might be do-able with them.

Westport: There's a seal colony at Cape Foulwind just outside of town. Pancake Rocks is best at high tide for the blowhole, but the rock formations are interesting enough if not high tide. Truman's Track is a 5-minute drive away and leads to a cove with a wispy waterfall on the far side. It's best at half-tide or lower. Charming Creek Walkway is a real gem, but might be a bit much with little ones in tow. We started at Ngakawau and walked to the mill site and back and it took about 2.5 hours.

Wanaka: We took the boat out to Mou Waho Island. It's a bit of an uphill, but not terribly strenuous. You will meet the resident Wekas there, as it's a predator free island and they are friendly and tame. Puzzleworld might be interesting to the 4yo, but of more interest to you. Mt Iron has great views. There is a relatively level walking track around the lake that you can enter at multiple places. I know that the portion along the Clutha River is popular with families with children. On the other side of town, be sure to stop by the Wanaka Willow and take a picture. It's probably the most photographed tree of New Zealand.

Fox Glacier: Walk around Lake Matheson - morning is best for reflective views of Mts Cook and Tasman. Minnihaha walk just south of town has glowworms at night. Gillespies Beach has lots of driftwood. Last I heard, the terminal face walk has a steep uphill section at the end.
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Aug 16th, 2017, 06:33 PM
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Mark, pull up Melnq8's Trip Reports for an example of some great trips in NZ. ( and in parts of Australia for your next trip ).

She & her husband lived here for a few years, are inveterate travellers & wonderful photographers & writers.
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Aug 16th, 2017, 08:44 PM
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Re busy times - just make sure you book ahead . Allow lots of time for travel esp Lakes Entrance and GOR. Have a base on GOR and explore from that .
Consider combining Ballarat with GOR and add in Grampians for your extra days .
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