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*Long Post* => NZ South Island Itinerary ? please critique?

*Long Post* => NZ South Island Itinerary ? please critique?

Old Oct 19th, 2004, 11:06 PM
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*Long Post* => NZ South Island Itinerary ? please critique?

Hi all ? my wife & I are heading to NZ this Christmas (she?s Kiwi, I?m Australian, & we live in Singapore), so on ?even? years it?s Xmas with the in-laws in Auckland.

We?re arriving on Dec 24th (midday) and spending 3 days with Amy?s family, staying with her aunt & uncle in Buckland?s Beach (nice area!). On Monday 27th Dec, we?re flying to Dunedin (via Wellington) and plan to spend the following 13 days touring the South Island. I?ve still got some gaps to fill in terms of ?must see?s/do?s? when travelling between destinations, so I would welcome any recommendations (see ?Notes/Questions?).

Here goes?

Mon 27th Dec 2004 ? **2nd wedding anniversary**
Fly AKL to Dunedin (NZ419 dep AKL 1230hrs; NZ439 dep WLG 1500hrs)
Pick-up rental car (Budget) at airport
Accommodation ? 755 Regal Court Motel (Ph: +64 3 477 7729)
*Notes/Questions* - I?ve made a dinner reservation at The Antrim (Cargill?s Hotel) to celebrate our wedding anniversary (we were married at Music Point near Buckland?s Beach [Auckland] on 27/12/2002 ? another useless piece of information!). For those of you who know Dunedin, does The Antrim have a good reputation or can someone recommend a better alternative?

Tue 28th Dec 2004
Drive to Te Anau via Gove
Accomm ? Lakefront Lodge (Ph: +64 3 249 7728)
*Notes/Questions* - We had planned to drive the Southern Scenic Route (Caitlins) but have been told it would be a 10+hr drive with stops, and therefore have decided to go via Gove instead. Although very disappointed, we figured we?ll be back in NZ every couple of years so we can explore the Southern region another time. Restaurant recommendations in Te Anau?

Wed 29th Dec 2004
Doubtful Sound Day Tour (Real Journeys)
Accomm ? Lakefront Lodge
*Notes/Questions*- Having ploughed through countless trip reports & forum threads on Milford vs Doubtful Sound, we decided to go with Doubtful Sound. The majority (well 60/40) of recommendations appears to be in favour of Doubtful, so it really came down to the crowd factor ? peak tourist season, but more likely to be less crowded in Doubtful. I?m probably way off!

Thu 30th Dec 2004
Drive to Queenstown via Milford Sound
Accomm ? Novotel Gardens (+64 3 442 7750)
Dinner ? Gantley?s Arrowtown (pick-up from hotel at 6.45pm)
*Notes/Questions* - Decided that since we?re not going to explore Milford Sound, we should at least do the drive ? the plan is to rise at the crack of dawn & head off before the tour buses get going. Is driving Te Anau ? Milford ? Queenstown in 1 day too optimistic? I?ve made a reservation at Gantley?s Arrowtown based on recommendations & the degustation menu is certainly inviting! Any fellow Fodorites tried Gantley?s before?

Fri 31st Dec 2004 ? Queenstown **New Year?s Eve**
Day in Queenstown (change hotels)
Accomm ? Mecure Grand Hotel St Moritz (+64 3 442 4667)
*Notes/Questions* - We haven?t planned anything for NY Eve dinner yet; any recommendations? Would prefer to avoid the crowds I think ? maybe a nice restaurant which puts on a nice spread/entertainment for NY Eve?

Sat 1st Jan 2005 ? Queenstown
Day in Queenstown ? Shotover Jet, Gondola ride, etc.
Accomm ? Mecure Grand Hotel St Moritz (+64 3 442 4667)
*Notes/Questions* - have seen recommendations for Avanti & Fishbone restaurants; any other suggestions?

Sun 2nd Jan 2005
Drive to Franz Josef
Accomm ? Glenfern Villas (Ph: +64 3 752 0054)
*Notes/Questions* - recommendations for ?must see?s/do?s) on the way?

Mon 3rd Jan 2005
Glacier Helicopter Flight; Helicopter Line (9.45am check-in).
Drive to Ikamatua
Accomm/Dinner/Breakfast ? The Homestead Farmstay (Ph: +64 3 732 3551)
*Notes/Questions* - recommendations for ?must see?s/do?s) on the way?

Tue 4th Jan 2005
Drive to Golden Bay
Accomm ? Bay Subtropicals (+64 3 525 9327)
No company website
*Notes/Questions* - recommendations for ?must see?s/do?s) on the way?

Wed 5th Jan 2005 ? Golden Bay
Day in Golden Bay Area
Accomm ? Bay Subtropicals
*Notes/Questions* - hanging out with mother-in-law.

Thu 6th Jan 2005 ? Golden Bay
Day in Golden Bay Area
Accomm ? Bay Subtropicals
*Notes/Questions* - hanging out with mother-in-law.

Fri 7th Jan 2005
Drive to Marlborough
Accomm ? Isabel Estate (+64 3 572 8300)
*Notes/Questions* - recommendations for ?must see?s/do?s) on the way? Have read high recommendations for the following restaurants ? La Veranda (lunch), Highfield Estate (lunch), Herzog Winery & Luxury Restaurant (dinner) as well as a few in Blenheim (Bacchus, Bellafico Restaurant & Wine Bar and Hotel D'Urville). Thoughts/opinions?

Sat 8th Jan 2005
Marlborough Wine Trail
Accomm ? Isabel Estate
*Notes/Questions* - anything else we should aim to see/do apart from the Wine Trail (which could get messy!)?

Sun 9th Jan 2005
Drive to Picton; return hire car
Ferry ? Picton to Wellington ? Interislander; dep Picton 1400hrs
Accomm ? Novotel Capital Wellington (+64 4 918 1900)
*Notes/Questions* - planning to cruise down to Courtney Place that evening and find somewhere to eat.

Mon 10th Jan 2005
Fly home to Singapore (connection in Auckland)

As you see, I?ve booked all accommodation & Doubtful Sound/Glacier tours ? that said, we're open to changes to give us more/less time in certain places. Thanks in advance for any feedback/advice/recommendations. Cheers, Simon.
ghostboy is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2004, 11:42 PM
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Hi, ghostboy,
What a great itinerary! 755 Regal Court is a great motel IMO - we have stayed there twice for a week each time.
The drive from Te Anau to Milford to Queenstown is not a problem in one day. Do enjoy the drive to Milford - it is so picturesque. On the way to Milford do stop at the mirror lakes on the left on the way there - can't think of their name but it is well signposted. We too were in a hurry to beat the tourist buses, and so missed the wonderful reflections.
The rest of the tour looks pretty good to me. We have visited the places but not eaten round there so cannot give any help in that quarter.
On the way to Ikamatua I suggest you go travel along the coast beyond the turnoff for Ikamatua and visit Punakaiki (the Pancake Rocks). It is only about 50km north of Greymouth, and well-worth the detour. You could also consider driving out through Runanga to Blackball - an interesting drive, and the best salami factory in New Zealand!!
I'm not sure where you are staying in Golden Bay, but would like to suggest a day out on Farewell Spit. We used Farewell Spit Nature Tours (www.farewell-spit.co.nz) The drive between Collingwood is really interesting too. Another interesting place is Harwood's Hole on the Takaka Hill.
The other areas I'll leave for others to comment on.
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Old Oct 20th, 2004, 12:23 AM
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Thanks for your recommendations Dotty - greatly appreciated. In Golden Bay, we're staying at Bay Subtropicals (Takaka). Cheers.
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Old Oct 20th, 2004, 05:02 AM
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Hi ghostboy. We're making our first visit to NZ for 3 weeks in December. The skyline gondola is running specials on Christmas and New Years Eves (we're doing the christmas one when everything else in the country closes down!). It's probably quite touristy but you might want to check it out. The site is http://www.skyline.co.nz/specials/index.html. There are also a number of other things to do up on the mountain, including a luge ride (recommend this before dinner, a Maori show... For Christmas, a 6 course dinner, glass of champagne, entertainment, the round trip gondola ride and a luge ride are included in the price of dinner (80 pp).
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Old Oct 20th, 2004, 02:01 PM
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Hi Ghostboy

Can't speak from experience because we are just going to NZ for the first time the end of November. However, from a number of sites, I've found the following restaurants in the Q'town area - Saffron in Arrowtown and Solera Vino in Q'town. We have reservations at both places in addition to Gantleys.

Have a great trip.
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Old Oct 20th, 2004, 05:49 PM
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Thanks sharon815 - the Skyline Gondola for NY Eve looks great; I've sent them an enquiry this morning to see if there are vaancies.

mover, thanks for your recommendations too. We'll look into Solera Vino for dinner on one of our other nights in Queenstown.

Cheers, Simon.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2004, 04:01 PM
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Hi, Ghost,

Returned from 5 weeks in NZ Friday - 3 wks on South I.

Dotty's correct in her driving recommendations - the SI is full of beautiful drives - Arthur's Pass is very dramatic ... Re Farewell Spit, you're at the mercy of the tides - we missed that trip because we needed to be in Collingwood at 6:30 AM, so check your calendar and give them a call ... We loved Doubtful Sound! Really the only boat out there... not the same at Milford, so if you have to choose, that's a factor (but what a great drive!) ... We loved Marlborough, stayed an extra (4th) day at a super homestay, Antares, across the street from Herzog - they have a website ... Speaking of Herzog, be aware that their pricing is like nothing I've seen, charging for an extra ladle of soup (!!) We loved the atmosphere and the care give to us, but for the money, there are alternatives (Hunter's for dinner, Wairau River for lunch were both very good) BTW, our bill was more than my first monthly pay check as a teacher, and we had the 3-course meal, not 5 ... Very much enjoyed Seresin Winery's wines, as well as their olive oils, and appreciated their committment to the environment also. Highly recommended - we brought wines and oils home to CA ... In Te Anau, we ate take-away from the Jade Garden - so good we took more away the next night ... Good on you for staying on the SI - We've found too many people trying to cover much more territory than we'd think wise ... We did not book much ahead, and found that we needed to call either the morning of our intended arrival, or the day before (Note that you'll be there in high season, though) ... Qualmark's 4 stars are a good indication of a fine motel room.

Sorry so long - hope all goes great for your holiday!
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Old Nov 22nd, 2004, 04:26 PM
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Sorry, make that the Ming Garden in Te Anau.
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