New Zealand Sth Island

Sep 16th, 2016, 02:48 AM
  #1  
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New Zealand Sth Island

We are planning a trip to the Sth Island of New Zealand in March 2017. We will be flying into Queenstown on 24th Mar after an early flight from Melb. we will be based in Queenstown for 6days & have plans for this portion. From there we are driving to Dunedin for 2 days, then want to base ourselves in Blenheim for 4 nts, Kaikoura -2 nts; Christchurch - 3 nts. fly home from here. As this will be our 3rd visit to the Sth Is; I am thinking of flying from Dunedin to Blenheim. We have previously flown nto Christchurch & driven south to Queenstown via Twizel, Mt Cook etc. We then drove along the west coast up to Nelson, then Picton to take ferry to Nth Is. 2nd trip we skiied Mt Hutt & visited surrounding areas.
Query: 1. should we fly Dunedin to Blenheim or drive? If drive, what route should we take?
skibunnyjan is offline  
Sep 16th, 2016, 06:27 AM
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>>I am thinking of flying from Dunedin to Blenheim. <<

Good idea. You really don't have time for the eight+ hour drive unless you cut something else out anyway. And driving would lead to more sightseeing and more stops, so it'll be quite a long trek.

If I understand your post correctly, you've driven the majority of the West Coast route once before - when you drove to Nelson and Picton did you drive via the West Coast all the way (meaning through Greymouth, Punakaiki and Murchison?).

If so, the way I see it, the only major route you've not yet taken is over Arthur's Pass.

Which means you'll just have to come back a fourth time and see Arthur's Pass!
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 16th, 2016, 04:00 PM
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I don't think there's a direct flight from Dunedin to Blenheim. You'll have to make a connection in Wellington or CC. For direct flights to/from Blenheim, look at:
http://www.soundsair.com/routes/
https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/flig...im-marlborough

Driving from Dunedin to CC takes 5 hours. It's often described as the most boring drive on the the South Island, but the portion between Dunedin and Oamaru is scenic and enjoyable, particularly if you get off the main highway (SH1) and take some scenic coastal roads, and make detours to the many attractions along the way. You could make a whole day of this drive. Providing the weather is fine, I'm sure you'd enjoy it, especially at this time of year. In late March/early April, you'll see the leaves beginning to change to their fall coloration.

Oamaru an nice small city, known for its small but beautifully preserved Victorian precinct, Steampunk Museum, Little Blue Penguin Colony, small Yellow Eyed Penguin colony, and one of the South Island's best restaurants, Riverstone Cafe. It's also close to the rolling hills, fossil sites and interesting geological formations of the Waitaki Valley (which is also part of the Alps2Ocean bicycle trail).

From Oamaru to CC is a little more than three hours. It's mainly straight, flat and one of the busier roads on the South Island, particularly as you approach CC.

What do plan to do on your 1.5 days/2 nights in Dunedin? What are your interests? Because a day and half will not be much time to see both the city and the Otago Peninsula.
Diamantina is offline  
Sep 16th, 2016, 08:43 PM
  #4  
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Many thanks for input
Yes we have driven the west coast previously. I have already checked flights to Blenheim so knew it wasn't direct.
We will be based in Queenstown with friends for 6 days, using it as a base. As we have been previously & spent 4 days there, we were planning to travel further afield on a daily basis. Other than a day trip to Doubtful Sound that is all that was planned.
We were thinking of visiting Invercargill as a day trip.
Re Dunedin- whatever the major sites are ???
Blenheim - wineries but not ONLY!! Queen Charlotte Sound???
We're open to suggestions, can always rearrange days; maybe 2 nts Christchurch as we've spent time there on the other occassions.
Cheers
skibunnyjan is offline  
Sep 17th, 2016, 03:20 AM
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A day trip to Doubtful Sound from Queenstown would be very long. Most people use Te Anau (or Manapouri) as a base for a trip to Doubtful Sound. I did the overnight trip and found it almost too much in that space of time. Have you been to Te Anau?

From Manapouri, it's a 45-minute boat cruise across gorgeous Lake Manapouri and then a 45-minute bus ride on a curvy narrow road over Wilmot Pass before you catch the cruise at Doubtful Sounds' Deep Cove. From the dock at Doubtful Sound's Deep Cove to the open ocean, it's a distance of around 40.4 km. Doubtful Sound also branches off into three "arms." Your boat is bound to explore at least one of them. From Deep Cove, you'll return by the same way.

What attracts you to Invercargill? The city's main attractions are the Southland Museum and Art Gallery, Queens Park (which is next to the gallery), E Hayes and Sons (this hardware store is home to Burt Munro's The World's Fastest Indian), and Bill Richardson's Transport World.

Maybe leave Invercargill (and possibly Dunedin) for another trip exploring the south and the Southern Scenic Route, during which you could visit Stewart Island, Invercargill, the Catlins, Dunedin, and other places enroute.

Seems like you enjoy wine. Did you explore much of Central Otago's wine region last time? You probably made it to Gibbston Valley and Amisfield Winery, but did you get to Cromwell and Bannockburn, and, beyond this, Alexandra? If you're driving from Q'town to Dunedin, you'll go by all of them. Harvest takes place from late March to April.

I could list Dunedin's major attractions, but it would help to know more about your interests to narrow them down. Are you interested in wildlife, beaches, train rides, street art, museums and galleries, walking tracks, gardens, coastal views, restaurants and cafes, breweries?

Dunedin has a good website:
https://www.dunedinnz.com/visit
And:
http://www.visit-dunedin.co.nz/index.html
Diamantina is offline  
Sep 17th, 2016, 03:20 AM
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I find Picton more attractive than Blenheim. You've been to Picton before. Did you stay there or just pass through?
Diamantina is offline  
Sep 17th, 2016, 06:37 AM
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I find Picton more attractive than Blenheim too, and as you're interested in the sounds, Picton makes a better base IMO. It's about 25 minutes from Blenheim, so easy enough to get to Blenheim for wine tasting/wine tour. I can recommend a good place to stay in Picton should you decide to stay there.

If you enjoy walking (as I do), you should definitely spend a day exploring the Queen Charlotte Track. From Picton you can take a water taxi to Ship Cove and then walk to Furneaux Lodge, then return to Picton via another water taxi. The walk takes 4-5 hours - other than the first 90 minutes or so, it's pretty easy. It's a great way to spend the day - particularly if the weather is nice - the perfect combo of walking and Marlborough Sound scenery.

Invercargill is basically a flat agricultural town, with not a whole lot on offer for tourists. It's nice enough if one happens to be traveling through, but certainly not a place I'd detour for.

Agree that Doubtful Sound is a very long day - I would not recommend doing this from Queenstown. I know of a good place to stay in Manapouri too if interested. Te Anau would also make a good base - it's only a short drive from Manapouri and has more on offer in terms of food and accommodation.
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2016, 09:04 PM
  #8  
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Many thanks for feedback - we have visited Te Anau previously and Milford Sound.
Had originally considered the Manapouri option, but friends have timeshare in Queenstown hence the extended stay there!!!
Take on board thoughts about Invercargill & Blenheim - re wine tasting - a day tour would be sufficient as there's plenty more to see!! We caught the ferry from Picton to Wellington last time. Melinq8 would appreciate accom choice. How many days do you think would be sufficient there, given that we drove from Nelson through Queen Charlotte Sound to Picton before.
Dunedin - re interests heritage sites, and some of coastline. Would love to see some of the native wildlife though. However given that we live on Phillip Island where the little penguins come in daily; we see enough seals etc
Thinking now - fly into Queenstown, pick up hire car & drive to Manapouri (1- 2 nts)
Queenstown ( 5 nts) Dunedin( 3 nts) fly to Blenheim or Picton? (3-4nts) drive to Kaikoura (2 nts) Christchurch (2-3 nts) fly home

Thoughts welcome
skibunnyjan is offline  
Sep 18th, 2016, 05:40 AM
  #9  
 
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Picton accommodation we liked (actually about 5-10 from Picton on the bay): Bay Vista Waterfront Motel

Manapouri accommodation we liked:

Acheron Cottages

Fodor's won't let me post the links for some reason.

Regarding how many days - do you have any interest in walking a portion of the Queen Charlotte Track?

Did you visit Abel Tasman Nat'l Park (from Nelson)? Did you make it to Takaka or to Collingwood and Farewell Spit?
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 18th, 2016, 08:27 PM
  #10  
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Melinq8 many thanks. We did not get to Takaka, Collingwood or Farewell Spit, so will check these out. Re. walking part I'm not sure as I'm having difficulty with my back, so we may need to look at short options for that.
Thanks for the accom choices will check them out.
Other than that is the itinerary more realistic? I know when we skiied MT Hutt that we also covered quite a lot of areas surrounding from Methven up to Hamner Springs.
Cheers
Jan
skibunnyjan is offline  
Sep 18th, 2016, 08:45 PM
  #11  
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Hi Melinq8 Have just checked out where Collingwood etc are; that would mean we would need to base ourselves in Nelson rather than Picton. IYO which is better - Abel Tasman or Queen Charlotte Sounds?
skibunnyjan is offline  
Sep 19th, 2016, 06:36 AM
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They're both good! I certainly don't mean to confuse things, but there's just so much to see and do on the South Island.

I think your current itinerary is fine, based upon what you want to see and do.

Takaka and Collingwood/Farewell Spit are off your route, but a area of the South Island that many visitors tend to overlook.

Takaka is in Golden Bay, and not too far from the north entrance of Abel Tasman Nat'l Park. Most walkers undertaking the entire trek begin in Marahau and end in Totaranui. As with the Marlborough Sounds, it's quite possible to take a water taxi from different points along the track, walk a portion and water taxi back.

If you're not able to walk far, you might consider taking just a scenic water taxi ride into either, or a kayaking trip.

Marahau and Kaiteriteri are where most walkers begin their visits to Abel Tasman, but for something a bit different, it's quite possible to take a water taxi from Totaranui to Awarora Lodge, have lunch and water taxi back. This way you can explore the area a bit without having to commit to a long section of walking track. You'll need to book lunch, and of course you'll have to drive to Totaranui, via Takaka.

Or if keen, you can water taxi in, and walk back out. The Abel Tasman track is tidal though, so you'll need to check the tides.

http://www.peppers.co.nz/awaroa/

The Takaka area has many walk options including nearby Wharariki Beach, and natural attractions such as Pu Pu Springs. The town itself is kind of fun too, funky and hippiesque.

http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-rec...opupu-springs/

Collingwood, a tiny little town on the north end of the SI, beyond Takaka, is the gateway to Farewell Spit, a fascinating part of the SI that few people ever seem to see - if you're a birder, this is the place for you - access is limited to small tour groups, info here:

http://www.farewellspit.com/

The Heaphy Track, most of which is in the Kahurangi National Park also begins near Takaka and ends near Karamea on the West Coast. It's quite possible to walk a small section as a day walk.

Yes, if you were to incorporate this area, you'd need to stay closer, and even closer than Nelson. I once made a day trip from Mouteka to Collingwood, took the Farewell Spit tour and then drove back to Motueka - it was a tiring long day, but it was in September, when days were short. I wanted to get back over Takaka Hill (Marble Mountain) before dark. In March the days are longer, but it's still a long day trip as the Farewell Spit tour is an all day commitment, plus driving there and back.
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 19th, 2016, 05:27 PM
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Golden Bay beyond Takaka Hill to Wharariki Beach, Cape Farewell and Farewell Spit that Melnq8 recommended is beautiful. Weather is likely to be warmer up there than down in Dunedin.
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/new...ectid=10802947
Here's a link to a brochure for short walks along the way:
http://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/par...golden-bay.pdf

We visited as a day trip from Upper Moutere, and while it was doable, we would have liked more time in the area. The drive over Takaka Hill was also a bit nerve-racking, as we did it in heavy fog.
Diamantina is offline  
Sep 19th, 2016, 05:37 PM
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Sorry, I'm having trouble posting info about Dunedin, even when I remove the links.
Diamantina is offline  
Sep 19th, 2016, 10:32 PM
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Dunedin's weather can be pleasant from late March to early April, OR it'll start to get cold. Just in case, prepare for cold, wind and light showers.

Dunedin is NZ's second largest city (areawise) after Auckland. Main attractions are in the city center (its urban core) or on the nearby Otago Peninsula (mainly rural, with lots of sheep).

Regarding heritage. Dunedin was NZ's wealthiest and most populous city until the 1890s, prospering from the Central Otago gold rush of the 1860s, then from NZ's first shipment of frozen meat from NZ to Britain in 1882. It's home to NZ's first university (1869), first medical school (1875), first and only dental school (1907), first art school (1870) first secondary school for girls (1871), first daily newspaper (1861), first public art gallery (1884), first public botanic garden (1863). It has a large concentration of Victorian and Edwardian buildings, many built from local stone. While not old in global terms, it's old for NZ.

Its heritage buildings are modest by Melbourne standards, but some are worth seeing and most are within minutes of one another. First and foremost is the Dunedin Railway Station, completed in 1906, NZ's most photographed building, home to the Taieri Gorge Railway and Saturday Farmers Market. The Law Courts (1902) and Dunedin Prison (1896) face the Railway Station. Next to the Railway Station, the excellent Toitu Settlers Museum chronicles human settlement in Otago from the arrival of the first Maoris to present-day; admission is free.

Two short blocks from Railway Station, there's First Church of Otago (1873). One short block from this, there's the Octagon, the city's eight-sided town square, home to the Town Hall, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, I-Site tourism and DOC offices, main library, shops, restaurants, bars, cafes. Radiating out from the Octagon, there's Speight's Brewery (built in 1880, it offers brewery tours); Otago Museum (I recommend its Southern Lands, Southern Peoples gallery), and heritage buildings such as Knox Church, the Otago Boys School (1885), and Olveston House (1906).

Cadbury Chocolate Factory is one block from the Railway Station. You'll find lots of colorful murals in the city center.

City center attractions a kilometer or more from the Octagon include the beautiful 30-hectare Dunedin Botanic Garden, nearby Baldwin Street (world's steepest residential street), and Signal Hill (not worth going out of your way for, but if you're nearby, it has good views on clear day). The Botanic Garden has a lower garden and an upper garden (lots of free parking), and houses common endemic birds, such as tui, bellbird, kekeru (wood pigeon), silvereye, and fantail. Its aviary has endemic kaka, kea and kakariki that are part of captive breeding programs.

30,000 students attend Dunedin's University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic. Most are well-behaved, but a few spend too much time drinking, partying and sometimes getting into trouble. You might want to avoid the downtown area on Friday and Saturday nights.
Diamantina is offline  
Sep 19th, 2016, 11:09 PM
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Apart from cruise ship passengers, tourists mainly travel to Dunedin to see wildlife. The best way of seeing local wildlife is to take the Elm Wildlife Peninsula Encounters Tour. They'll pick you up from your accommodation, bring you to the Otago Peninsula to view wading birds at Hoopers Inlet; to Taiaroa Head to view endangered Northern Royal Albatrosses, endangered Otago Shags and other seabirds; then to a privately owned property with Yellow Eyed Penguins (world's most endangered penguin species), NZ Sea Lions (world's most endangered sea lion); and a large NZ Fur Seal colony mainly populated by many females and their pups. If the weather's fine, you'll enjoy awesome coastal views, and they'll spare you the trouble and anxiety of driving on Otago Peninsula roads, which are narrow, curvy, and often have drops-offs to one side. Its guides are knowledgeable and passionate about wildlife.

Elm offers the option of adding on a Monarch Cruise (one hour harbor cruise) or Royal Albatross Colony tour (Southern Hemisphere's only mainland albatross colony). Both are great experiences, but you'll be fine if you just stick with the Elm Tour. The tour lasts 5 to 6 hours, so, if you go, take water, a snack, and dress warmly (layers, wind- and water-resistant jacket, gloves, knit cap or hood). Some walking up steep paths is required, if this is a problem, take the "lite" tour (if offered), which saves on some climbing. Check reviews here:
https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/Attrac...th_Island.html

Yellow Eyed Penguin chicks usually fledge in February, but you'll still see adult penguins returning from the sea and maybe moulting penguins. Unlike LBPs, YEPs are solitary and anti-social. They're the third largest penguin species, and, apart from those being temporarily being treated for illness or injury, there are none in captivity. There are only 205 pairs on the mainland.

If you prefer to explore the peninsula on your own, drive to Taiaroa Head, Allans Beach (go at low tide), Sandfly Bay (go at low tide, walking on steep sand dunes required), or Sandymount Track to Lover's Leap and the Chasm (some driving on narrow gravel roads with blind curves required). If it's a clear day, drive out to the peninsula on the "high road" (Highcliff Road to Seal Point Road) for stunning views. Portobello Road, the "low road," runs along the harbor and also has lovely views on a clear day. Other Otago Peninsula attractions include: Larnach Castle, Glenfalloch Gardens, and Penguin Place, which offers Yellow Eyed Penguins tours and runs a "hospital" for sick, injured and undernourished penguins (late afternoon tours are best).

This Wikipedia page describe the OP well:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otago_Peninsula

My other top picks for Dunedin are neither in the city center nor the Otago Peninsula:
Tunnel Beach track, a steep walking track to sandstone cliffs below and then through a hand-carved tunnel leading to a tiny beach accessible at low tide. At high tide, huge waves crash against the sandstone cliffs. It's best visited in the morning before the track gets shady.
https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/Attrac...th_Island.html

St. Clair Beach, the "city" beach, is about a 10-minute drive from Tunnel Beach or a 10-minute drive from the Octagon. It's home to a few cafes and restaurants, accommodation, the short Second Beach walking track, and an open-water saltwater pool that's open through March 31.
https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/Attrac...th_Island.html

Orokonui Ecosanctuary, an open sanctuary with rare birds and reptiles, and a cafe with excellent views on a clear day. Orokonui is above Port Chalmers, opposite the OP. This side of the harbor has beautiful beaches (best visited at low tide) and stunning coastal views. It's more forested than the Otago peninsula; these are mainly, though not all, plantation forests.
https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/Attrac...th_Island.html
Diamantina is offline  
Sep 20th, 2016, 07:02 AM
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Wow Diamantina, you almost make me want to go back to Dunedin!
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 20th, 2016, 05:27 PM
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That's funny, Melnq8, thanks for the compliment. There's far more to do and see here than what I listed.

The drawback, of course, is the weather, which doesn't bother me, as I was born and raised in San Francisco, which is only a little warmer than Dunedin and gets its share of wind, cold and fog. One thing I learned, is Dunedinites are tough, even in blustery weather they're running around in tee-shirts and shorts, taking long walks or running on the beach. I need to bundle up.

Yet on perfectly gorgeous, sunny, windless Dunedin days, I'll see tourists sitting around the main library, surfing the Internet or checking their messages, seemingly camped out for hours. It's easy enough to spend a few dollars to store one's luggage at the Town Hall, then go exploring. In miserable weather, a visitor can learn about the people of the south by spending a few hours at Toitu or Otago Museum, and get more a feel for this unique region. Personally, I enjoy learning a little about the culture and history of places I'm visiting, which gives greater meaning to them, and makes them come alive in a way.
Diamantina is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2016, 10:49 PM
  #19  
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Wow Diamantina & Melinq8 you have provided a comprehensive list of both areas many thanks. After speaking with an NZ friend; I think we have decided on our itinerary - fly into Quennstown (6 nts as accom is free!!!) so we'll do day trips from there. Dunedin - 3 nts; fly to Nelson & pick up car & base ourselves in Abel Tasman for 4-5 days; Kaikoura - 2 nts, Christchurch - 1 nt fly home. Have been to Christchurch twice before.
skibunnyjan is offline  
Sep 24th, 2016, 12:53 AM
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That looks like a great trip.

As you're trading Marlborough/Blenheim/Picton for Nelson/Abel Tasman, I thought I'd let you know there are some good wineries between Nelson and Abel Tasman. Don't miss Neudorf Winery in Upper Moutere. Tried to insert the link to Wine Nelson, but this wouldn't let me.

You might want to stop at Mapua Wharf for lunch. Jellyfish Cafe has a great location and good food.

Do you need recommendations on accommodation, dining choices or any other practicalities for Dunedin?
Diamantina is offline  
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