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New Zealand 10/11 Day 9/10 Nights Trip - Feedback/Recommendations Welcome and Needed!

New Zealand 10/11 Day 9/10 Nights Trip - Feedback/Recommendations Welcome and Needed!

Old Apr 26th, 2024, 10:17 AM
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New Zealand 10/11 Day 9/10 Nights Trip - Feedback/Recommendations Welcome and Needed!

Hello! My wife and I are finally looking to do a Honeymoon after a few years of marriage (Covid derailed a lot of plans). We're really interested in New Zealand. We've looked around at multiple past posts on different sites and itineraries, and I've crafted one for us. This will be during the New Zealand summer at some point. We currently are planning 10 days and 9 nights, but have the flexibility to add another date in if their are highly recommended things to do, or if we need to take extra time to travel, etc.

Day 1 - Arrive in Auckland. We were contemplating either going to Rotorua and experiencing a Te Pā Tū, does this seem too much driving for first day? Other option is stay somewhere in Manukau. Visit the Botanical Gardens possibly.

Day 2 - Go to Waitomo Caves and tour. Go to Hobbiton and tour. Stay somewhere between Matamata and Auckland

Day 3 - Morning flight from Auckland to Christchurch. Stay in Christchurch. Maybe visit Antarctic Centre.

Day 4 - Take TranzAlpine train to Greymouth. Rent a car and travel to Franz Josef/Waiau or Fox Glacier area. See the glaciers (Is this feasible same day?)

Day 5 - Travel to Wanaka or Queenstown. I know this is a big travel day, we could take away Day 9 and use that day for extra travel time here.

Day 6 - Travel to Milford Sound and stay the night. I know this is a big travel day, we could take away Day 9 and use that day for extra travel time here.

Day 7 - Stay in Milford Sound, do a cruise, hike. Stay the night.

Day 8 - Travel to Queenstown. Stay here.

Day 9 - Do more around Queenstown area.

Day 10 - Fly Out from Queenstown.

As you can see, some of our later dates are rather light on activity, so we'd welcome any recommendations! Please note we have no interest in extreme adrenaline activities like bungee jumping, day long hikes, or anything involving helicopters! We are totally into doing shorter hikes to see the scenery though!

I know those Glacier to Queenstown/Wanaka and Queenstown/Wanaka to Milford Sound are big drives. We want to stay in Milford Sound though, so the bus trip isn't really in our equation.

Please feel free to offer any criticism/advice/information you want. Any feedback is appreciated.
Thank you for your time!

Last edited by CabooseMSG; Apr 26th, 2024 at 10:24 AM. Reason: Adding missing details
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Old Apr 26th, 2024, 10:39 AM
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Nine nights is actually 8 full days. You don't say where you're coming from, but keep in mind that jet lag could very well affect your plans and slow you down a bit.

Your itinerary is full on and leaves no wiggle room for bad weather (of which NZ is famous). With so little time, I'd skip the NI and head directly to the SI. You barely have enough time for one, let alone both. Travel distances in NZ are much longer than they appear, due to narrow, winding roads. I'd add a couple of hours to any online distance calculators you might run across.

Day 4 - Take TranzAlpine train to Greymouth. Rent a car and travel to Franz Josef/Waiau or Fox Glacier area. See the glaciers (Is this feasible same day

The TranzAlpine train takes five hours. The drive from Greymouth to Franz Josef takes just over two. That doesn't leave much time to see the glaciers, especially as you must walk to both, and Fox and Franz are 30 minutes apart. So, my answer to that question is no.

Day 5 - Travel to Wanaka or Queenstown. I know this is a big travel day, we could take away Day 9 and use that day for extra travel time here.

Franz Josef to Wanaka is over four hours with no stops, over five to QT with no stops. And there are many reasons to stop...this is a beautiful part of the West Coast - don't rush.

Day 6 - Travel to Milford Sound and stay the night. I know this is a big travel day, we could take away Day 9 and use that day for extra travel time here.

Wanaka to Milford Sound is about 4.5 hours, 3.5 from QT. There's not much to do in Milford other than the cruises, so I suggest you spend this night in Te Anau instead, make the day trip to Milford the next day, and then spend that night in Te Anau as well (two nights).

There are no hikes in Milford other than a short walk round the dock/lake. There is a load to do on the drive from Te Anau to Milford though - loads of hikes and tracks. Loads of hikes from Te Anau as well. I suggest you head to Milford from Te Anau early in the morning, take a cruise, and then explore some of the lookouts and hikes on your return to Te Anau. If you opt to spend the night in Milford, you will be heading towards Te Anau for hikes, so it makes little sense to then backtrack to Milford for the night (unless you really like sandflies).

There is no shortage of things to see and do around QT. You could visit Cromwell (wine growing area) and Arrowtown for a day, or head to Glenorchy and take a day hike on the Routeburn track, etc.

Last edited by Melnq8; Apr 26th, 2024 at 10:44 AM.
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Old Apr 26th, 2024, 10:57 AM
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Thank you for your feedback! I will need to talk to my wife about Milford Sound vs Te Anau. I know she was keen to stay in Milford Lodge. It sounds like really all there is to explore is between Te Anau and Milford Sound, correct?

I don't think we will be able to skip doing at least one full day on the North Island, as Hobbiton is one of the top two places to visit on our list.

In regard to Glacier country, do you recommend staying not just one, but two nights around there instead? We can either maybe add one extra day on to our trip, or we could take a day from the Milford Sound or Queenstown portion, as currently each of those locations have two days allocated to them.
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Old Apr 26th, 2024, 11:10 AM
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Yes, the best part about Milford IME is Milford Road; it's a treasure trove of great hikes and overlooks.

https://www.newzealand.com/us/feature/the-milford-road/

I'm not a one night person, and as two nights is only one full day, I seldom spend two nights anywhere. NZ needs time. Lots and lots of time.

Two nights at the glaciers is still giving it short shrift. Two nights is only one full day, but in one full day you can explore both Franz and Fox glaciers, hike to both, visit Lake Matheson, and then chill in the hot pools afterwards. One night doesn't really work as there a long drives on either side, so very little time to see the place you've traveled so far to see.

Unless your flight leaves Queentown late, you don't have two full days, you have 1.5. It will take you four hours to drive from Milford to QT, two hours from Te Anau, so that will eat up half of your day right there.

Likewise, you only have one full day in Milford. The day you arrive will be used up with the drive, half of the day you leave will be spent in the car as well.

Last edited by Melnq8; Apr 26th, 2024 at 11:14 AM.
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Old Apr 26th, 2024, 11:30 AM
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I wish we had more time to give to the trip But we're really stretching our time off to the limits. I understand that staying two nights in a place is really only one full day. I'm just trying to work within our constraints regarding spending two nights in a place.

That's why I was asking whether spending two nights in Queenstown or two nights in glacier country is more worth it in your opinion.
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Old Apr 26th, 2024, 11:37 AM
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Understood.

Personally, I'd spend the two nights at the glaciers.
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Old Apr 26th, 2024, 01:35 PM
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NZ is a long way to travel if you only have 8 full days. Why not leave it until you have more time, or just concentrate on one area. Melnq who has posted above has been to NZ many times, and has a mine of information. I would follow her advice and spend most of your time in the South Island, driving the West Coast and Queenstown area.

There is also a great facebook group called NZ Travel Tips, you can search lots of options, and get great tips from other members.
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Old Apr 26th, 2024, 02:03 PM
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Thank you for all your help! I really appreciate it!

I was doing a little more reading and searching and had a question I hoped you, or someone, could answer.

Let's say everything up until the Christchurch train stays the same. After we take that train to Greymouth and drive to Frans Josef. We stay the night here two nights in a row to be able to spend time and see more in this area. After that we would drive to Wanaka or Queenstown and stay the night. The next day we could go to Te Anau earlier in the day and intend to stay there. What is the feasibility of then that same day, after the drive from Queenstown to Te Anau, we then go to Doubtful Sound on the tour from Manapouri? Then the next day we day trip to Milford Sound, do a cruise, and explore the road to the Sound? We then could return to Te Anau, stay our penultimate night there, and travel to Queenstown for our final night that next day.
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Old Apr 26th, 2024, 04:14 PM
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Wanaka to Te Anau is a three hour drive, Queenstown to Te Anau is around two hours, then it's another 20 minutes to Manapouri, where the Doubtful Sound cruise starts. The cruise is a very full day - seven hours - of which only three is actually in Doubtful sound, the rest on a boat across Lake Manapouri then a bus over Wilmont Pass.

It's certainly feasible, assuming you get on the road from Wanaka or QT really early in order to make it to Manapouri in time for the cruise.

Then a night in Te Anau (or Manapouri) and a full day along Milford Road and Milford, then that night in Te Anau (or Manapouri), and depart for QT the following day?

It could work...but, weather is a big consideration. Despite what the tour operators tell you, a rainy day in Doubtful or Milford really pales in comparison to a sunny day. You could very well have two back-to-back wet, gloomy days...or not.

I've seen Milford in all her moods, and I much prefer her with sunshine. The one time we visited Doubtful Sound, we had bad weather, so it was a bit of a bummer...but if that isn't a consideration for you, go for it.

Last edited by Melnq8; Apr 26th, 2024 at 04:18 PM.
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