My first time to New Zealand

Old Mar 18th, 2007, 10:51 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My first time to New Zealand

Hello to anyone who can share their own experiences. I am planning a 16 day south island New Zealand trip for my 50th birthday. I have never been there but have dreamed of going. I have been reading through a lot of information and have narrowed it down to the following itinerary. I will be traveling with 7 other people (family and friends) and we all love nature and the outdoors. Also, we were thinking of going in April. Is that a good time to go to the south island? Anyway, here goes. I'll list my questions and I will try to keep them brief. Oh and we will be renting a large van.

Flying from SFO/Queenstown

1) Timeshare in Queenstown-7 days. One question I have is 7 days to much in Queenstown? We were thinking of doing day trips & hikes during those 7 days.

2) Queenstown/Wanaka/Staying in Haast 1 night

3) Haast/Fox Glacier/Staying in Greymouth 1 night

4) Greymouth to Nelson/Staying in Nelson 2 days - Maybe doing a wine country road trip one day and sea kayaking the Abel Tasman 1 day.

5) Abel Tasman - Taking a water taxi to the opposite end of the park and hiking over to the Awaroa Lodge and staying one night.

6) Nelson to Kaikoura and staying 1 night.

7) Kaikoura to Hanmer Springs and staying 2 nights.

8) And last but not least Hanmer Springs to Christchurch and staying 1 night.

Flying home from Christchurch to SFO

In general, I want to make the most out of my south island tour without feeling to rushed but making the most of the time we have. Any input would be appreciated.

Thank you fellow travelers!!
naturegirl1 is offline  
Old Mar 18th, 2007, 12:17 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3,254
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
naturegirl1, you will love the south island of New Zealand! Gorgeous place! My husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary there in February 2007.

7 days in queenstown is a great idea, since you want to do day-trips. 1 day to see Queenstown, including the Birdlife park where you can actually see 2 kiwis (we did!), and other native birds; take the gondola up for a great view; enjoy fun places to eat...1 day to drive the scenic drive to Glenorchy, which is 40 minutes, then about another 30 minutes to Paradise...very scenic drive, you will love it. Forested area with a lake... Make an advance dinner reservation for Kinloch Lodge (on the other side of the lake from Glenorchy.) also I recommend a day-hike on Routeburn track, with access from the trailhead past Glenorchy...the trailhead for Routeburn is about a 1-hour drive from Queenstown actually. Beautiful rainforest walk. Now all of that will take you maybe 3 or 4 days altogether. There are other day-trips which we didn't have time to take, and you have probably read about them, such as Arrowtown.

I think there is plenty to do in Queenstown area for 7 days. Oh yeah...I notice you aren't staying in Te Anau, the closest town to Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. Therefore you will want to book an excursion from Queenstown to see the scenic Milford Road and do a boat ride on Milford Sound. That's another day.

But you may want to consider taking 1 night off of Queenstown in order to add this night to Haast. Although there's nothing much in the village of Haast, there is plenty of untouristed scenery nearby! Beatiful native lowland rainforest...further up the road there is Monro Beach, if you can find a place to park and walk down to that beach...I love this southwest coast area, from Haast to the Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki, because it is wild nature, gorgeous wilderness. Tree Ferns and flax and green rainforest...

Once you get up to Fox and Franz Josef Glacier you will find it is a lot more touristy, more people and tour buses up there.

We concentrated our 2 week trip on the southern half of the south island so I can't help you with the northern half of the island.

Enjoy!
Melissa5 is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 12:21 PM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you so much Melissa for all your helpful suggestions. Just from what I have read, and believe me I have read alot, there is so much to see in just the south island. Now I hope someone can chime in about the north part of the south island!
naturegirl1 is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 01:27 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 831
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Our 2+ weeks in New Zealand was several years ago so details are getting a bit fuzzy, but an absolute highlight was Abel Tasman. We water-taxied to the end and hiked back, spending 2 nights in lodges en-route. Sorry now we didn't give ourselves even another day for sea-kayaking and
general prowling around.
We went in October, which probably is a lot like April and the weather was great, only colder then we expected in Christchurch. (bought some fleece vests which worked.)
You might want to spend another day in Christchurch. We found it a neat city with some good day trips.
RE going to Milford Sound - try to get a fly-cruise-bus package if you can, rather than the opposite. The bus trip is interesting but looong and if the fog rolls in in the p.m. you'll be stuck taking the bus back even if you booked a flight.
BTW, in case you're thinking of of using a agency at all, we used Swain to help plan our trip (North and South Islands and Australia too) and we liked them a lot. They can help you book whatever you want, or you can go independent as much as you wish.
Enjoy!
NGail is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 07:53 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,560
Received 83 Likes on 5 Posts
Just typed a detailed response regarding the north of the SI, and promptly lost it - maddening!

I love the north of the SI - tons to see and do - suggest you consider renting a large cottage or a house since you have seven in your party - lots of interesting lodging options in NZ to choose from. You might consider staying between Nelson and Motueka instead of in Nelson because that's where most of the wineries are, and it's closer to Abel Tasman.

Regarding Hanmer - it's a small, quiet town - main attraction is the thermal pools and a few hikes. Personally, I like Hanmer and have stayed there more than once, but keep in mind it's pretty sleepy, and not usually on a first timer's "must see" list.

April should be a great time to visit NZ - we had the best weather in our six trips to NZ during the month of April. The high season will be over, so it should be quiet (except for Easter weekend and any local school holidays - Google for those). The weather is generally very settled in April.

I've posted quite a bit of info regarding the north of the SI on this forum - you might want to click on my name to locate some old threads.

Will help in any way I can as specific questions arise.

Just returned from Australia yesterday and the pile 'o laundry and unpacking beckons...


Melnq8 is offline  
Old Mar 20th, 2007, 03:02 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you all! I really, really appreciate it all the great information you are giving me. And that's a good tip about Hanmer Springs. I think I am going to have to tweak the days here and there to make it sure that I am taking advantage of all the special highlights there are.

One question I have, does anyone know, since we will be renting a big van, can we just drive over to Te Anau and then get a tour on the Milford Sound? Seems like it would be a lot shorter then taking a bus tour.

Thank you all. I will keep you updated!
naturegirl1 is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2007, 12:23 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 468
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would rethink staying in Greymouth. While it is halfway between Nelson and Haast it is not a great place to stay.

I would prefer Hokitika or (any) somewhere else.

wilees is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2007, 12:55 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,560
Received 83 Likes on 5 Posts
I tend to agree with wilees about Greymouth. We spent three nights there one year and found enough to do, but once again, it's definitely not a "must see" kinda place. I assume you're staying there just to break up the trip?

I'll never forget the morning I awoke in our hotel in Greymouth and turned on the news to see a plane fly into the World Trade Center. I'll also never forget the kindness of every Kiwi we met on that trip who offered their condolences to us as Americans.

While in Greymouth we took the Monteith Brewery tour – a short tour and generous beer sampling.

We also drove to Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks), located halfway between Greymouth and Westport.

We drove to Blackball, a former coal and gold mining town located 25 km north of Greymouth. In Blackball, we obtained a walking map at the ex-Hilton (a New Zealand Historic Place operating as a hostel). We hiked to the top of Lookout Trail, a 45-minute, semi-steep climb offering views of Blackball. We then drove up Arthur’s Pass to view the scenery.

Any particular reason you're staying in Haast? As I recall, it's basically a spot in the road, but maybe I missed something (?)

Melnq8 is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2007, 07:21 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I picked Haast just to break up the driving time between Queenstown and Nelson. So I sort of randomly picked two points to stop at. I was thinking that Haast was a place to stay to that we could have a day trip to the Glaciers but I am open for suggestions......

Can you drive over to Te Anau and then get a tour on the Milford Sound? Does anyone know?
naturegirl1 is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2007, 11:10 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 468
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would stay in Fox or Franz Josef over Haast - they are very touristy but that is for a reason.

And then I would choose Hokitika or (dare I say it) Westport over Greymouth.
wilees is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2007, 03:51 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,560
Received 83 Likes on 5 Posts
Yes, you can drive to Te Anau and then on to Milford. It takes about 1:30-2 hours to drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound. You can usually hop right on a boat without having to book.

If it's a bus tour you're after, you can take the bus from Te Anau or from QT, but with seven people, it'd be cheaper to drive since you'll already have wheels. You might need to book the bus in advance - you can find this info online - Real Journeys is the major operator for Milford Sound, but there are others too.

It takes two hours to reach Te Anau from QT, then 1:30-2 hours to reach Milford from Te Anau. It's a long day from QT, and I've never done it that way, but many people do. If you plan well, and get an early start you can easily make the journey yourself.
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2007, 04:24 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,560
Received 83 Likes on 5 Posts
Just re-read your post - you should have no trouble filling seven days in QT. QT is touristy, but there's a lot to do there and it makes a great base for day trips.

If you like wine, suggest you choose a designated driver from those seven other travelers and head to Cromwell for a day of wine tasting with a stop along the way for a nice winery lunch.

Glenorchy is only a 40 minute drive from QT and there are several tracks that originate from there if you like to walk. The Dart River Safari also originates from Glenorchy and is a great way to spend a day - the scenery is incredible.

Wanaka makes a good day trip from QT as well - more wineries, more walking, a pretty incredible lake, nice little town.

Then there's Arrowtown, Te Anau, Milford Sound, etc. Plenty to do in and around QT.

You might consider driving from QT to Fox or Franz for your overnight stay (about a six hour drive, longer with stops). Then driving from Fox or Franz directly to Nelson - another six hours. Both are long drive days, but you'd avoid those overnights in Haast and Greymouth and get to Nelson earlier. This would give you more time to spend in the Nelson/Abel Tasman area, which can easily fill another week.

If you don't want to drive directly to Nelson, Westport is a possibility for an overnight stay as wilees suggested, although it's in a smiliar category with Greymouth and Haast when it comes to excitement. There is a seal colony at Cape Foulwind (named so for a reason) that might be worth a look.

From Nelson/Abel Tasman it's about a three hour drive to Kaikoura. In addition to the whale watching in Kaikoura, there are some walks, a winery, coastal scenery. If you plan to take the whale watching trip, you might consider two nights here and then only one in Hanmer - truly, there's just not much to do in Hanmer, but I can suggest a walk or two if you're interested. Then it's a short drive (90 minutes or so) from Hanmer to CH for your departure.

Alternatively, you might want to look into a side trip to Banks Peninsula (Akaroa)and bypass Hanmer altogether. It's far more interesting (penguin viewing, dolphins, cruises, gorgeous scenery), and only about 90 minutes from CH, so you'd still be close to CH for departure. In fact, you might want to spend your last night there instead of in CH, unless CH holds some interest for you.

Hope I haven't confused matters - just wanted to throw a few alternatives out there.
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2007, 08:33 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 964
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
This has already been addressed, but allow me to add my two cents worth. Would not stay a night in Haast. Drive from QT to Fox Glacier is very do-able in a day of easy driving through beautiful Haast Pass, even though there are plenty of places to stop and absorb the views.
Stay the night in Fox Glacier Village. Early am take the walk around famous Lake Matheson for the famous photo op, if its not foggy.
Maybe a mid morning helicopter ride to the glaciers before taking off for points north.
Search my name for my reports on the South Island, and definately Melissa5's name for her reports.
BillJ is offline  
Old Mar 26th, 2007, 03:16 PM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Has anyone ever done a day trip from Queenstown to Doubtful Sound? I am wondering if time wise it would be better then trying to do the Milford Sound. Also, for anyone who has toured both the Milford and Doubtful sounds, is there one that should not be missed?

naturegirl1 is offline  
Old Mar 26th, 2007, 04:22 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,560
Received 83 Likes on 5 Posts
I haven't done Doubtful, but have heard wonderful things. From QT, the bus leaves at 6:45 am and gets back at 5:15 pm, so it's still a long day. The cost drops significantly if you drive yourself to Lake Manapouri where the eight hour day begins. The cruise itself is three hours.

http://www.realjourneys.co.nz/Main/Doubtfuldaytime/

Melnq8 is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2007, 09:54 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 13
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
NatureGirl, I did not visit Doubtful Sound, but I can vouch for Milford Sound. It was a definite highlight. We did the Real Journey's Tour - We coached in from Queenstown, then the cruise, then we did a flight back on a fixed wing airplane. It was pricey - but worth every penny. By coaching in and flying out, you get to see the views from two perspectives. The drive in by coach was not bad at all. There was plenty of time to stop for pictures, potty breaks, etc. I enjoyed the drive there almost as much as the actual cruise. There were some spectacular scenery on the way. I have no regrets. The only problem is if weather concerns cancel flights out of Milford Sound. Then you would have to coach back to Queenstown. It would make for a long day. For my husband and I, we were willing to take the chance. We lucked out and had beautiful weather. It had rained the day before, so we still got to see hundreds of waterfalls that day. Have fun on your trip. You will love New Zealand. We did! =)
MarsBars is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2007, 10:02 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 13
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
P.S. The Real Journey's Tour also departs out of Te Anua. On our tour, we left from Queenstown, but we stopped in Te Anua for a 45 minute pit stop. We picked up passengers from Te Anua to join our group. I do not know if the flights go to Te Anua or not. But if you decided to coach both ways, it would not be as long of a day. I believe that it took a couple of hours to drive from Queenstown to Te Anua. So you can deduct several hours from your driving time, and still get to see the beautiful sights. Good Luck!
MarsBars is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2007, 12:04 PM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks again everyone! All your suggestions really helped a lot. I think for our group the best way to go is to drive from Queenstown to Te Anau and pick up the bus from there to Milford sound and then back to Te Anau and staying one night there. That way it won't be such a long day from Queenstown. I would love to do the flight thing but for our group, we are trying to watch the expenses. I really can not wait! It is a dream come true for me to see New Zealand. I bought a DVD called the Ultimate NZ and watched it the other night and it made me long to leave now!!
naturegirl1 is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2007, 02:24 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 207
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I went on a Real Journey's cruise of both Doubtful and Milford Sounds a few years ago. They are different and both beautiful. When I was there, I saw more wildlife in Doubtful Sound. I stayed a few nights in Te Anau to accomodate both trips, which I thought was a lovely little town. Be sure to do at least one jetboat trip while in Queenstown - they are great fun!
Martha
mjnbrown is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
ptmullins
Australia & the Pacific
5
Jan 17th, 2009 03:24 PM
mrpink
Australia & the Pacific
11
Feb 15th, 2008 03:57 PM
Senga
Australia & the Pacific
4
Apr 20th, 2007 05:50 PM
yodi1
Australia & the Pacific
8
May 25th, 2005 12:49 PM
melodyc
Australia & the Pacific
7
Mar 30th, 2005 01:24 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:51 PM.