Itinerary Tradeoffs request for 3 week Aus-NZ trip

Old Feb 15th, 2013, 03:44 AM
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Itinerary Tradeoffs request for 3 week Aus-NZ trip

Hi,

This is a wonderful platform and has inspired us to take a couple of trips based largely on trip reports and feedback from the members here. We owe a trip report too as our way of contributing back to the forum with our opinions, and hope to post it soon in the Spain/Turkey forums.

We are planning a trip to Aus-NZ later this year, and this post is to concentrate on the NZ leg of the trip. We have gleaned what we can from the many itinerary posts on here, but still have a few questions.

Following are the 2 itineraries that we are toying with, no. of nights in brackets:

1) Mumbai -> Sydney (4) -> Christchurch (1) -> Punakaiki(1) -> Glaciers (2) -> Wanaka (1) -> Te Anau (2) -> Queenstown (3) -> Auckland (3) -> Cairns (4) -> Mumbai

2) Mumbai -> Sydney (4) -> Wellington (2) -> Nelson (2) -> Punakaiki (1) -> Glaciers (2) -> Wanaka (1) -> Te Anau (2) -> Queenstown (3) -> Cairns (4) -> Mumbai

For itinerary 1 above, we could stay in Auckland with friends and take it easy for a couple of days.

Background:
We are a couple in early 40s, like scenic drives, exploring cities and towns, short hikes, not big on museums/arts. We will be renting a car in SI and intend to travel in November.

We plan to kayak for half a day in Milford Sound, hike one of the glaciers, do drives/adventure sports/wineries in the Queenstown/Wanaka area, snorkel/dive, rainforest trips in the Cairns area, Blue Mountain, city tour and ferries in the Sydney area.

Wondering if the folks on here can comment on the questions below:

Questions:

- Christchurch vs Wellington: Which city would you recommend for a day or two?
- Abel Tasman/Nelson:Would it be worthwhile to include this area as part of our trip? Does the Abel Tasman/Nelson area offer anything different (terrain, experiences, views) then what we would cover in other areas in terms of kayaking, views, national parks etc or would it be more of the same? Fatigue on such a long trip is a concern.
- Is it worthwhile to do both sounds, Milford and Doubtful or would it be kayak/cruise overkill, especially if we do Abel Tasman as well? If we had to choose a day trip to one sound, which one would you recommend?
- Fox vs Franz Josef Glacier: We don't plan the heli hike. If we wanted a half-day hike at only one of the 2 glaciers, which one would you recommend in terms of less-hike vs better view tradeoff?
- Would it be worthwhile to spend a night in Wanaka en route to Te Anau from Glaciers? Or should we consider Glacier -> Queenstown -> Te Anau -> Queenstown instead on that leg of the trip?

Feel free to comment on anything else such as no. of nights planned etc. as well.
Thanks in advance for your responses.
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 12:26 PM
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I have to put a plug in for Wellington as it is my hometown! There are some pleasant walks around the waterfront, up Mount Victoria, Makara, as well as a few others. Although you sre not big on museums, Te Papa is a really good hands-on museum full of interesting exhibits. We also have Zealandia, a sanctuary, mainly for native birds and some smaller animals.
And Wellington has been labelled "the coolest little capital city in the world", a very good reason for visiting us!!

Some people would plug for Christchurch and going to Akaroa for a day - I like this idea too!
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 05:08 PM
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Hi marcopolo.

Abel Tasman/Nelson:

This area is entirely different from the rest of your itinerary. It is indeed worthwhile, but only if you have the time to enjoy it. To do Nelson and Abel Tasman justice, you'd need at least two full days in the area (three nights). One day could be spent walking a section of the Abel Tasman Track, perhaps doing a walk/kayak combo, and taking a drive along the backroads to explore Kaiteriteri Beach and Little Kaiteriteri. Or perhaps driving across Marble Mountain to Takaka and Golden Bay. Plenty to do on that side as well.

Your day in Nelson could be spent exploring the town of Nelson and the area between Nelson and Motueka - Mapua/Ruby Bay is an interesting stop with the wharf, estuary views and an awesome bakery. Then there's the wine regions, lots of arts and crafts, etc. If you travel in the opposite direction from Nelson you'll find the forests of the Pelorus River/Rai Valley area.

With so little time, I'd only do one or the other of Milford or Doubtful. The Doubtful Sound day trip takes all day...you won't be able to fit in anything else. The Milford trip is shorter, easier to access and allows one to fit in more, such as a nice long walk along the Routeburn Track. The drive to Milford from Te Anau takes about two hours and is incredibly scenic.

I've done a helihike from Fox, but frankly, I doubt there is a huge difference between the two. You can walk to the terminal face of both glaciers easily enough in a day and still have time to explore if you plan well.

If you plan to do much around Wanaka, you really need two nights, which only gives you one full day. Otherwise, it's merely an overnight stop with a long drive day on either side.

You really should stop in Wanaka anyway, even if only to break up your journey, because it's such a long drive between the glaciers and Te Anau - about 7.5 hours - this is a drive not to rush, as there's quite a lot to see along the way, many reasons to stop and take photos, etc.

Yes, it makes sense to go to Wanaka, then Te Anau, then Queenstown.
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 08:25 PM
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Thanks Melnq8 and dottyp! Your replies help. Will add Abel Tasman and Wellington to the trip now.
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 09:46 PM
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I don't think you have room to 'add' unless you're also adding more days.
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Old Feb 16th, 2013, 01:03 AM
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marcopolo123, what are you wanting to around Cairns? For kayaking and mountain biking or supported hiking in remote areas contact Tablelands Adventure Guides who can tailor the trip to your needs. You can still get right away from other people and do short walks. http://www.tablelandadventureguides.com.au/
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Old Feb 18th, 2013, 01:42 AM
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Hi Melnq8,

Yes will look at either "adding" another day to Nelson, or spend half a day in Nelson area on the 3rd day en route to Punakaiki for an overnight pitstop.

Am also considering taking a night off from Queenstown, given that we could stop at some of the places around Queenstown (Arrowhead, Glenorchy, Cromwell) on our way to or back from Te Anau.

Question:
If we start around 11:00 am from Punakaiki, we would reach the glaciers around 2-3 pm. Still gives us a few hours to do Lake Matheson or a Glacier Terminal Face at Franz Josef on that day. We could do a half day trip to Fox Glacier (9am - 2pm) the next morning and then drive straight to Wanaka for overnight. This would help us shave off a night at the Glaciers. Any thoughts?
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Old Feb 18th, 2013, 01:42 AM
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Hi AlanJG,
We are currently looking at GBR snorkeling for 1 day, and a couple of days for Draintree and Cape Tribulation areas. We are not yet sure if we want to explore Atherton Tablelands yet. Thanks for the link.
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Old Feb 18th, 2013, 02:39 AM
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Arrowtown, Glenorchy and Cromwell aren't 'on the way' to Queenstown from Te Anau or on the way to Wanaka from the glaciers. These are significant detours.

What time of year are you going? Daylight could be a factor.

Punakaiki to Franz Josef takes over three hours, longer with stops. Fox Glacier is about 30-40 minutes beyond Franz Josef.
Lake Matheson is accessed from Fox Glacier. The walk around the lake takes 90 minutes; it takes about 45 minutes to walk to the viewing point. Dawn and dusk are the best viewing times. The track to the terminal face of the glaciers takes awhile too.

What type of glacier trip? Helihikes are often cancelled due to weather - it took us many visits before we had good enough weather to do a helihike, and we usually stay three nights when we visit the glaciers.

If you cut things too fine, you could well miss out. I personally would never spend less that two nights at the glaciers....and I've been there 10 times.

The drive from the glaciers to Wanaka is a haul - the road is very squiggly and will take you much longer than you think, especially if you stop enroute, I you definitely should stop enroute.

If you don't leave Fox until 2 pm, you could well be driving in the dark, and what's the point of that when you're there to see the spectacular scenery?
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Old Feb 18th, 2013, 11:07 AM
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Thanks for the reality check Melnq8. We are planning to add a couple of extra days to our trip. A 3rd night at Abel Tasman and a 2nd night at the glaciers. You are correct, no need to cut it very close. FYI we are planning this around November.
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Old Feb 18th, 2013, 02:30 PM
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You'll have nice long days in November. Good idea to add the time where you have.

http://rasnz.org.nz/SRSStimes.shtml
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