Jul 4th, 2004, 05:49 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 55

Hello everyone - I'm furiously typing out my questions in stream of conscious - so I apologize in advance if I make and typo / spelling mistakes. We are from the States and I'm currently in the Whitsundays, Australia and will be leaving for NZ the day after tomorrow. I'm in a bit of a jam. Let me start off with my original itinerary.
7/6 - SYD to Christchurch/ arrive midnight
7/7 - Transalpine to Greymouth. Get a car rental (SUV) and drive down to the glacier mts./ do a glacier climb/ stay the night
7/8 - Drive down to Milford/ Stay the night on a boat
7/9 - Milford or Doubtful exploring
7/10 - Potentially drive to Mt. Cook?
7/11 - Drive back to Queenstown
7/12 - Flight leaves for Rotorua from Queenstown

However, we have not yet been able to locate a car (let alone SUV) rental in Greymouth (we just had one KIA rep. get back to us with a small sedan and he will include snow chains).

My questions:
1. Is a small car with snow chains suffiecient to navigate the mts?/winter conditions? (that is all they had in Greymouth, Kia and snow chains)
2. Should we rent a car from Christchurch (sedan with snow chains) and drive ourselves instead of Transalpine?
3. We originally were not going to spend anytime in Christchurch - is that a mistake?
4. I just found out that Milford / Doubtful do not have boat cruises in the winter time, what should we do instead? Should I take out this part of the trip and go to Te Anu, MT. Cook, Lake Tepako? or will going to one of the B&B/hotels in the MIlford/Doubtful area be sufficient?
5. Should we take the intercity bus down the West instead? (and try to rent a car in Franz/Fox or alternativesly just use the bus the whole way down?) MY concern with the bus is that we would have less flexibility (we have not yet booked our hotel stays yet so I wanted to be flexible with the car - this was a very last minute vacation - we were able to get good airfare and decided spur of the moment to go, I'm usually a little more organized!)
I would appreciate any help. I will be around checking until the day after tomorrow!

Many thanks in advance!
Jaykay06 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2004, 05:59 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,603
A Kia is a very small car and not one that I would care to drive any distance in with snow chains.
You don't say where you are from or whether you are used to snow chains - I drove for 2 years with snow tyres in Canada and I can't seem to manage chains.
Anyway, Christchurch is a nice little city and is worth a visit so you could get a bigger car from there if you felt better with that. There is plenty to do in Queenstown so you can fill your time up there anyway. As for getting rentals at Franz/Fox, these are very small places and I am not sure that you would be able to rent a car there - better from Christchurch I would think. If you have the time when you get to Christchurch go to the Tourist Office and then you can better decide what to do and where to go and how much time to allocate to each area. That way you will have on the spot information.
lizF is offline  
Jul 4th, 2004, 07:07 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 669
I think i'd pass on a car. Yr itinerary is pretty full-on but is doable by bus/shuttle. I like Christchurch but think I wd stick to yr original plan as far as taking the Transalpine goes. Great trip - hope the sun shines. But then if it doesn't you wouldn't want to be driving !! There used to be small shuttles running along the west coast to Q'town as well as the Intercity. Info from local b/packers. In case in helps - I have an old IC timetable right here - there is one bus a day from Greymouth dep 1350, arr Franz J 1720, Fox 1800.
From FJosef dep 0800 arr Q'town 1550.
This is an old timetable but even if the exact times have changed I doubt the frequency has.

I have a gut feeling that Queenstown is the only place where it would be wise to book accomm in advance.
alice13 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2004, 06:50 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 55
Sorry guys! I'm really screwing up on this posting thing - everyone's advise is definitely helpful, I didn't realize there was a post on this one because I didn't realize it went thru twice! I guess I ended up with two posts. Sorry! We were finally able to get a car a Toyota Corrolla hatch back with chains at Greymouth (not ideal, but will have to do), so we are planning to take the Tranzalpine. Unfortunately, we have never driven with snow chains/and it is a manual car - so I hope for our sakes that the weather is nice - I'm in Australia now, but when I get to NZ I need to find the B&B book that people onthis board is raving about. We are trying to book the Queenstown accom but lots of places are already booked - so we may have to play it by ear. Thanks again for the help last minute, I really appreciate it.
Jaykay06 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2004, 09:14 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,546
You can see a lot of b and b's on < (This may be the book to which you were referring.)

Jed is offline  
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