Jul 4th, 2004, 05:51 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, 07:30 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 176
The small car and chains should be sufficient for your journey. I would stick with your plans and rent from Greymouth as planned.
The Red Boat Cruises at Milford Sound run year round, check the website at
I don't think they offer the overnight trip but they do have various day-cruises over the winter months ( May-Sept).

Hope this helps.

Christa is offline  
Jul 5th, 2004, 12:23 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 55
THanks so much! that was very helpful - I will book the small car and include chains and keep with my original schedule. Thanks for the info on The Red Boat cruise - I will look into it!
Jaykay06 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2004, 04:51 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 669
This is the most curious thing - posted in reply to this Q last night - quite happy to accept my reply wasn't helpful But there was another poster before me - LizF - both gone!!!

No big deal - just never seen it happen before.
alice13 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2004, 04:53 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 669
ah - now I see. The OP has posted again without checking replies to the previous one. That's a strange way of going about things.
alice13 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2004, 06:52 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, 04:10 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 176
Hi there,
Re booking accom, try this discount website ...
I use it regularly and have never encountered problems.

The Toyota Corrolla should serve your purposes well enough and the roads are well maintained at this time of year. If you have problems along the way just pull off the road and put the bonnet ( hood) up, usually someone will stop to offer a helping hand in these circumstances.
You possibly wont even need the chains but if you do, the road will be well signposted and possibly even patrolled to ensure everyones safety.
Good luck!
Christa is offline  
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