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New Zealand at a leisurely place, need help with forming itinerary!

New Zealand at a leisurely place, need help with forming itinerary!

Feb 22nd, 2010, 10:18 PM
  #21  
cwn
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 878
Hi,

If you are planning on an overnight on Milford, yes, you just take pot luck. With that much time on the Sound, you will have a good chance of seeing the peak. It was mostly misty/light rain the day we went, but we had some good views as the mist moved in and out.

We had reservations for our Jan visit. I was afraid that we might have a problem since I knew we would be getting to the night's stop around 5pm on the long days.

Definitely go with the B&B's, thoses were our favorite. If you plan to break your West Coast drive at Fox Glacier, try to stay at Misty Peaks...it was wonderful, great food, fellowship and a wonderful room! They have a website. The B&B's have just a few rooms, so if you find something that sounds good, book it ahead of time.

For us, it was just nice to know we had a place to stay lined up...we could take our time getting to each new place.
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Feb 23rd, 2010, 02:51 PM
  #22  
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Join Date: Oct 2005
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A quick question: Will we need a 4WD to drive along the west coast to fox glacier and down the rest of the coast?? We don't drive in snow/icy conditions, will the pass be icy in the summer? The passes in WA state are clear in summer but I'm assuming the NZ passes are higher elevation...?

Also how necessary are Christchurch/Queenstown? What about the Nelson area? I'm beginning to think I should just spend the whole time on the South island, this itinerary is giving me a major headache.....
britomart is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2010, 02:52 PM
  #23  
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Misty Peaks looks nice, but our budget is US $100 per night
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Feb 23rd, 2010, 03:38 PM
  #24  
 
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No, you don't need a 4WD to drive along the west coast. Roads are paved and well maintained. Passes won't be icy in the summer unless there's a freak storm, which is unlikely, even at higher elevations.

Christchurch and Queenstown are only necessary if you want them to be, but both have a lot to offer. Queenstown is in a beautiful location, right on a lake surrounded by mountains. Christchurch holds less appeal (for me anyway) but there's still plenty to see and do there.

I personally love the top end of the SI (Nelson, Motueka, Takaka, Collingwood, Abel Tasman, Marlborogh Sounds, etc). The scenery is quite different to what you'll see along the West Coast and further south.

We spent an entire month on the SI once and still didn't get enough of it. We've been to NZ many times, and the SI still calls us back, whereas our one visit to the NI was enough for us. Only you can decide what's best for you, but take heart, it's ALL good.
Melnq8 is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2010, 04:06 PM
  #25  
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Okay, here's what I've come up with:

Day 1 & 2: Arrive Auckland

Day 3: Auckland

Day 4, 5, 6: 3 nights Bay of Islands staying in Paihia

Day 7, 8, 9: Drive back to Auckland, plane to Nelson. 3 nights in Abel Tasman staying in Motueka

Day 10 & 11: Stay in Nelson or Picton?

Day 12: Take Train from Picton to Christchurch on the TranzCoastal, 1 night Christchurch

Day 13, 14, 15: Christchurch to Dunedin (fly? drive? is there a train??), 3 nights Dunedin

Day 16, 17: Dunedin to Queenstown via Taieri Gorge Railway, 2 nights Queenstown

Day 18, 19, 20: Queenstown to Te Anau including overnight Milford Sound Cruise and day hike on Milford Track

Day 21: Fly home.

Thoughts? I'm a bit worried about the frequency of turning in and getting rental cars, but the train options look really awesome. I love trains!
britomart is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2010, 04:10 PM
  #26  
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I'm also a bit tempted to cut out the entire North Island to pad the rest of the itinerary more...
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Feb 23rd, 2010, 05:09 PM
  #27  
 
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No trains to get Christchurch Dunedin. You can fly, drive the fast route via the coast and Oamaru (overnight for Blue Penguins viewing!). Or you could take one of the more scenic inland routes, but these need a stopover. Alernatively route yourself via Mt. Cook to Queenstown and depart from Dunedin, if that works.

Queenstown is a bit overdeveloped but the Southern Lakes are beautiful, there is a lot to do and see. The weather tends to be quite good in summer, in fact in my recent 4-week trip in January there was lousy weather everywhere except around Queenstown.
mlgb is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2010, 06:15 PM
  #28  
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Is Queenstown the base for the Southern Lakes? This itinerary only has 2 nights for Queenstown, is that not enough?

If we cut out the NI, I estimate we could devote these many nights to the following:

Abel - 4
Nelson/Picton - 2
Christchurch - 2
Dunedin - 4
Queenstown - 3
Te Anau - 3

Also, should we make our base in Dunedin or the Catlins?
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Feb 23rd, 2010, 06:39 PM
  #29  
 
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Queenstown and Te Anau are both on the Southern Lakes. Te Anau is more forested and swampy, Queenstown is more sheep and gold mining country with the unique schisty topography. I'm not a huge fan of Te Anau, the town, but it is closer to some of the Fiordland sights.

Dunedin is an interesting city to me, with quite a few activites. The Catlins is a fairly undeveloped coastal area where you can see some wildlife. I like both of them. I have the added interest of golf so that usually tips me over to Dunedin.
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Feb 23rd, 2010, 10:55 PM
  #30  
 
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Regarding Picton vs Nelson on days 10 & 11 - since you're already spending several days in Motueka/Abel Tasman, I'd suggest you spend those nights in/around Picton. Nelson isn't that far from Motueka and you could easily drive there for a day without going to the trouble of changing hotels. Or, you could do what we do when we're in the area; base yourselves somewhere in between Abel Tasman and Nelson (Upper Moutere, Tasman, Mapua.)

It's well worth the effort to drive over Takaka Hill to Golden Bay and maybe even on to Collingwood for a look too - if you have time, you might consider taking the 4x4 tour out to Farewell Spit. It's an all day excursion though, and a bit of a drive to get there from the Marahau side of Abel Tasman (near Motueka), so you'd need to plan well.

Picton is right on the Marlborough Sounds, but the town itself isn't all that exciting. If it were me, I'd drop off the rental car in Picton and take a water taxi to one of the accommodation options within the sounds. There's a variety of places to stay from backpacker to resort (I'd suggest avoiding Punga Cove - it's been plagued with problems and continues to get bad reviews - it was a complete pit when we were there several years ago). Bay of Many Coves is fantastic, but above your budget. Craglee Lodge is highly regarded, but I'm not sure of their rates. From within the sounds you can walk sections of the Queen Charlotte Track, kayak, go on a dolphin watching trip, go fishing, or just chill out.

Then you could take a water taxi back to Picton and catch the train to Christchurch.

I'm not a huge fan of Dunedin, but it has quite a bit to offer and you could easily spend several days there. It's a city...the polar opposite of the Catlins. The Catlins is basically windswept coastal wilderness. It's beautiful and is often overlooked by first time visitors, but it's spread out, so if you hope to thoroughly explore the Catlins, you'd do well to select accommodation somewhere in the middle of it (we found Fortrose to be a good base).

As far as how much time to spend in Queenstown...we prefer Arrowtown as it's close to QT, yet quiet and away from the hustle and bustle. Two nights won't give you much time to see all there is to see in the area - if you can spare three nights, all the better.
Melnq8 is offline  
Feb 25th, 2010, 06:49 AM
  #31  
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Okay, now I'm really thinking we should just do the SI. I'd really like to spend more time in Picton/Dunedin/Queenstown or Arrowtown (thanks for that tip). It also seems like we should really see Mount Cook for more variety, but it seems so isolated and far from everything else, what would be the best way to squeeze it in? Take the TranzAlpine? Thank you for all the great advice so far!
britomart is offline  
Feb 25th, 2010, 09:39 AM
  #32  
 
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If you drive between Queenstown or Arrowtown toward Christchurch, you'll go by Mt. Cook if you take the Mackenzie pass (which is also beautiful). The first part of the video is the Mackenzie area. Just outside Mt. Cook you'll see the turquoise lakes Pukaki and Tekapo.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0B_zuuxp5hY

If you do a loop around the SI, you can see the West Coast in one direction and Mt. Cook in the other. There are lots of itineraries that do this.

I think you'll just have to pick and chose, it's really not possible to see everything at a leisurely pace unless you've got months...(or you keep going back like Mel and I do.)

It's all good...the only parts of the South Island that might be a bit dull are the Canterbury Plains around Christchurch but even then, on a clear (?) day you can see the Southern Alps. I think weather is a bigger issue than scenery..
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Feb 25th, 2010, 11:27 PM
  #33  
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"If you drive between Queenstown or Arrowtown toward Christchurch, you'll go by Mt. Cook if you take the Mackenzie pass (which is also beautiful). The first part of the video is the Mackenzie area. Just outside Mt. Cook you'll see the turquoise lakes Pukaki and Tekapo."

Ahhh! That is an extremely useful tidbit of information. Thanks again for all the help, I think husband and I just need to sit down and decide what are our biggest priorities and how much time we want to devote to them. Thanks again!
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