New Zealand, South Island, 2 weeks, intinerary help?

Aug 25th, 2013, 12:27 AM
  #1  
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New Zealand, South Island, 2 weeks, intinerary help?

I have a rough idea. We are a family of 4. The kids at 17 and 16 years old.
We were going to campervan around but have instead decided to drive and stay in BnB's, hotels etc.
We want a somewhat relaxing trip, but want to fit a fair bit in.
We are going in december 2013.
Our rough itinerary so far is:
Day 1 - Arrive in Queenstown in afternoon.
Day 2 - start driving to Fox Glaciers, stop over in Wanaka (puzzling world).
Day 3 - Fox Glacier full day walk.
Day 4 - Franz Josef Glacier half day walk. Start driving to Nelson. Stop halfwayish and sleep.
Day 5 - Finish the drive to Nelson, see the wearable art/cars muesum.
Day 6 - Drive to Christchurch. Take it easy, stop along the way at a winery etc.
Day 7 - Drive to Lake Tekapo. Possibly hot springs when we get there or sky observatory tour. Depends on how long it takes to drive there.
Day 8 - Drive to Dunedin. Wildlife Observation tour in the afternoon.
Day 9 - Drive to Milford Sound. Do a scenic cruise in the afternoon.
Day 10 - Hike the 1 Day Milford Sound Track
Day 11 - Free day to explore Milford Sound and Te Anau. End in Queenstown by nightfall.
Day 12 - Kayaking tour.
Day 13 - Shopping
Day 14 - Leave for home

Do you think we are trying to achieve to much? Should we just focus on the lower section of the island and not worry about Nelson and Christchurch?
My husband and I are fine driving 4 or 5 hours a day. Apparently the scenery is nice by itself.

Any suggestions/recommendations etc would be great. This is our first time going to NZ.
Bexyraine is offline  
Aug 25th, 2013, 10:15 AM
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Bexy - we too have 14 days in the SI at the end of Nov/december.

we have gone for a few longer stays and fewer one nighters, but I'm by no means convinced that I've got it right, yet.

so I'll be very interested in the answers you get!
annhig is offline  
Aug 27th, 2013, 09:21 PM
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Bexyraine -

Greetings from a sopping wet South Island (today anyway).

I hate to break it to you, but your itinerary is far from relaxing. You are making the classic mistake of trying to fit the far north and far south of the SI into too few days. This will involve a huge amount of driving - you will be seeing the island from the inside of a car.

An example - the drive from QT to the glaciers will take close to six hours, possibly more, and this does not include a stop in Wanaka. The roads on the SI are narrow and winding, one lane in each direction and require one's full attention. It takes longer to get from point A to point B than you might expect.

The Milford Track starts from Te Anau Downs, not Milford. Te Anau Downs is located between Te Anau and Milford. You must take a boat across Lake Te Anau to access the track. There's absolutely nothing to do IN Milford other than take a cruise and walk the 20 minute foreshore walk. There is however, a load of wonderful tracks and waterfalls to explore between Milford and Te Anau. We've just returned from a three night stay in Knobs Flat doing exactly that.

I suggest you sit down with a map and a travel distance calculator and rethink your itinerary a bit.
Melnq8 is offline  
Aug 27th, 2013, 11:32 PM
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Bexy - all the TRs I've read have borne out what Melnq says about driving distances. She's been to NZ lots of times and knows what she's talking about. before we went to Sri Lanka, people were warning us about the time that it takes to get from A to B, but we couldn't believe it could take so long. How wrong we were - 3 hours to do 60 miles was not unusual.

I agree that you are giving yourselves a huge amount of driving, especially between Days 5 and 9. it's a long way to Dunedin for an afternoon.
annhig is offline  
Aug 28th, 2013, 12:11 PM
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I totally agree, less driving more sight=seeing but choose the areas you would like to see and not try and do it all. Arriving in Queenstown and leaving the next day for a long drive to the Fox Glaciers, is too rushed. Queenstown will be packed in December but there are some nice places to visit in the area. Why not fly to Christchurch and then take the train to the West Coast, pick up a rental car and drive to the glaciers.
nelsonian is online now  
Aug 28th, 2013, 08:52 PM
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Queenstown is pretty packed right now too. It's turned into a real party town, unfortunately.
Melnq8 is offline  
Aug 29th, 2013, 12:15 AM
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I'm inspired to give my 2 cents worth..so here it goes!...I've made some assumptions though:

- that you can change where you fly in and out of (so you don't have to loop back to Queenstown)
- that you are leaning more towards nature experiences than spending time in cities
- that you want to do less driving than is in your current itinerary!

Day 1 Fly to Nelson – stay in Nelson
Day 2 Drive Nelson to Kaiteriteri/Marahau – Stay Kaiteriteri or Marahau – Options: Nelson/Wearable arts/Mapua wharf for lunch
Day 3 Options: Walk part of Abel tasman (maybe boat out to Anchorage or Torrent bay or similar and walk back) or kayak trip – stay KaiT or Marahau
Day 4 Drive to Hokitika or Greymouth via Motueka Valley (hop gardens and orchards)/Murchsion/Buller Gorge/Punakiki (pancake rocks and blowhole) – Stay Hokitika or Greymouth (long but scenic driving day).
Day 5 Drive to Fox Glacier or Franz Josef – Options: Hokitika Gorge/Okarito lagoon/walks around glaciers/Helicopter rides/Mirror lakes/Gillespies Beach – stay Fox or FJ
Day 6 Drive to Wanaka – stay Wanaka – Options: walk Mt Iron/Puzzling World/movies at Cinema Paradiso
Day 7 Drive to Queenstown – - stay Qtown - gondola/luge/bunjy/skippers canyon/wineries/shotover jet boating/dart river jet boating/Glenorchy/start of Routeburn track. Dinner at The Cow, Beer at Montys, coffee at Joe’s Garage, Fergburger..
Day 8 Qtown - as above..
Day 9 Drive to Te Anau – stay Te Anau – Option: scenic tour Lake Manapouri Power Station. Mince and cheese pie at the Te Anau pie shop.
Day 10 Drive to Milford sound – Options: kayaking or boat tour then back to Te Anau (consider doing this as a tour picked up from Te Anau to save on the driving and enjoy the scenery). Stay Te Anau
Day 11 Drive to Queenstown
Day 12 free
Day 13 free
Day 14 free

So...this actually gives some possibility of adding in some days to be still!

- Consider adding a day in Wanaka, Nelson or Queenstown. Personally, I'd chose these over extra days in Te Anau or the glaciers.

If you really must, you could add in extra driving with Qtown/Tekapo/Chch or Qtown/Dunedin/Chch. I'd probably chose Tekapo over Dunedin (an easier drive and Lake Tekapo/observatory/ice skating/hot pools). Although if you chose Dunedin you could then also see Moeraki Boulders, Albatross, little blue penguins and historic Oamaru.

I can see how this is hard to decide what to do! Hopefully I haven't made your decisions more difficult! Good luck!
Thelittlestkiwi is offline  
Aug 29th, 2013, 10:51 AM
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hi, thelittlestkiwi [love the screen name, BTW]

as you may have picked up, we have a similar itinerary to the OP, arriving in Picton on Day 1, and flying out of Christchurch on Day 14, giving us 13 nights to get from A to B [or in this case, P to C!]

at the moment we are considering doing this:
Day 1 - Early morning ferry from Wellington. drive to Kaikoura, stay 2 nights. whale watching, etc.
Day 3 - drive to Hokitika [is this too far?]
Day 4 - drive to Franz joseph - stay 2 nights
Day 6 - drive to wanaka - stay one night
Day 7 - Drive to Te anau for Milford Sound - stay 2 nights
day 9 - drive to QT - stay 3 nights
Day 12 - drive to C/church. stay 2 nights.
Day 14 - early morning flight out.


Sadly this means we miss out Nelson and Abel Tasman, but I can't work our how to fit them in in the time we've got. WE're doing this in late Nov/early December so it should stay light in the evenings, but OTOH I'm expecting the roads to be busier than in the winter.

any comments? [helpful or otherwise?]

PS - sorry for hijacking your thread, Bexy!
annhig is offline  
Aug 29th, 2013, 10:01 PM
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I'm adding a disclaimer! These are just my personal opinions and what I'd do in the same situation!

So...Annhig...if I was doing this trip....I would drop Kaikoura. I would rather have the time in Abel tasman/Nelson and it makes it into a nicer loop of the South Island.

You'd be missing out on the drive down the coast to Kaikoura, whale watching and the cuteness of the baby seal nursery pool, but Kaikoura isn't somewhere I'd schedule 2 nights. However, if these things are really important to you, then what you have in mind is totally possible. You are right - it is a windy, long drive from Kaikoura to Hokitika (detour to Hanmer Springs or Maruia springs for hot pools if time), but so are your other driving days too!

On the other hand, if I dropped Kaikoura and went the other way towards Nelson, I'd drive the windy road from Picton through to Nelson starting with Queen Charlotte Drive for the lovely views of the Marlborough sounds, bays and beaches (or consider instead staying in the Marlborough Sounds - Furneaux Lodge/Punga Cove/Peppers Portage for a night or 2 - walk part of the Queen Charlotte Track). Then I'd carry on to Nelson/Kaiteriteri/Marahau and pick up on the rest of your itinerary from Hokitika.

It wouldn't cross my mind to worry about the roads being busy - you may get sick of sitting behind trucks/camper vans waiting for a chance to pass - but that would be the worst of it!

I do hope this is a little bit helpful!
Thelittlestkiwi is offline  
Aug 30th, 2013, 08:36 AM
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hello, thelittlestkiwi, it's more than a little bit helpful, thanks!

what you describe was what we were going to do until DH read/heard about the drive down the west coast being spectacular and decided he'd rather do that instead. as going to NZ is mainly his idea I have tended to defer to his general ideas whilst I get the job of the actual trip planning. [yes, i know this isn't necessarily a great way to go about things, but....]

I obviously need to work on him a bit!
annhig is offline  
Aug 30th, 2013, 11:38 AM
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Ann, to me driving down the West Coast is just as spectacular driving from Nelson than it is driving from Kaikoura. You are driving on part of the Lewis Pass coming from Kaikoura but are bypassing most of it when you turn off for the West Coast at Springs Junction.
nelsonian is online now  
Aug 30th, 2013, 11:59 AM
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Coming from Nelson or Motueka you would turn off for the West Coast just after Murchison.
nelsonian is online now  
Aug 30th, 2013, 12:31 PM
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what you describe was what we were going to do until DH read/heard about the drive down the west coast being spectacular and decided he'd rather do that instead.>>

oops - i meant 'east coast" ie from Picton to Christchurch via Kaikoura. when i looked at Murchison on the map I realised my mistake.

nelsonian - does that change your view? the original plan was Picton - Nelson - Hokitika, but DH fancies going down the EAST coast instead.
annhig is offline  
Aug 30th, 2013, 07:05 PM
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Not sure when you are going in December. But if you are running into school holidays, you may want to make some advance reservations. The places you will be staying are small and fill up quickly.
fbeifeld is offline  
Aug 30th, 2013, 10:37 PM
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No in my view the West Coast is more spectacular than the East Coast, but it depends on your interests. The East Cost you will get see some sea views but the West Coast is a lot more rugged, a lot wetter climate and totally different fauna, You are not going to Christchurch anyway are you if you are going to Hokitika from Kaikoura. You would do this via the Inland Route through to Hanmer. If you were going to end up in Christchurch to go to Hokitka you are going to be doing quite a few extra miles.

You will enjoy both routes great scenery either way. Just depends on what you want to see.
nelsonian is online now  
Aug 31st, 2013, 01:49 PM
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nelsonian - what you say accords with everything I've already read. I had a nice little itinerary planned from Picton to Franz Joseph via Nelson [reservations and all, fbeifeld, even though we will be left before the school hols start] and then DH has to start taking an interest!

it occurs to me that something we could do to keep everyone happy is to drive From Picton to Kaikoura straight off the ferry, do a whale watching trip the next morning, then drive back to Nelson in the afternoon. We'd then spend 3 nights in Nelson, which ought to give us time to recover!

does that sound utterly ridiculous, or only a little bit daft?
annhig is offline  
Sep 25th, 2015, 07:52 PM
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Hi, I too am planning a similar trip - family of 4 driving (kids 16 and 11). Based on all of this advice, here is what I was looking at doing.
1. Wellington to Nelson (1n)
2. Nelson to Punakaiki (1n)
3,4. Punakaiki to FJG (2n)
5,6. FJG to Queenstown (2n)
7,8. Queenstown to Te Anau (2n including Milford Sound)
9. Te Anau to Wanaka (1n)
10,11. Wanaka to Mt Cook (2n)
12. Mt Cook to Lake Tekapo (1n)
13. Lake Tekapo to Christchurch
Any thoughts?
Suscal is offline  
Sep 26th, 2015, 09:28 AM
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Suscat -

Might I suggest you continue on the thread you started earlier rather than resurrect threads that are two years old. It's easier for those willing to help follow your planning and thought process.

This forum is like molasses in January....very slow, so it's not necessary to post multiple threads asking the same questions.
Melnq8 is offline  
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