New Zealand Trip

Old May 5th, 2022, 05:08 PM
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New Zealand Trip

Planning a trip to New Zealand after 2 years.
Arrive Auckland Feb 2nd in the morning.
Day 2 - day trip to Waiheke Island
Day 3 - day trip tour to Hobbiton/Waimoto caves
Day 4 - Fly to Queenstown
Day 5- Day tour to Milford Sound
Day 6-Day to Te Nau
Day 7- Tour Gibbston Valley wineries
Day 8- Drive to Fox Glacier-Stay the night
Day 9- Drive to Greymouth and catch Transalpine to Christchurch
Day10-Drive to Mt. Cook, Lake Tekapo
Day 11- Explore Christchurch.
Day 12- Fly to Auckland
Day 13- Auckland
Day 14 back home.
Please advise and all suggestions are welcome.
Thank you
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Old May 6th, 2022, 06:18 AM
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Regarding your South Island itinerary...

You're really rushing things. First off, a day trip to Milford Sound from Queenstown is a very long day - 4.5 hours each way. That's a lot of butt time.

Secondly, you drive right through Te Anau between Queenstown and Milford, so if you go back the next day, you're driving most of that road all over again. This makes no sense whatsoever.

If you have four nights in Queenstown (if I understand correctly), you'd do better to spend two nights in Te Anau and visit Milford from there. It will 1) shorten your drive (or tour) day by half and 2) give you time to visit the Te Anau area without all that extra drive time and backtracking.

However, I feel that only two nights in QT is giving the area short shrift. It will allow you one full day for the wineries, but not much else.


One night in Fox Glacier leaves you very little time to see the glaciers as it takes the better part of a day to drive there, then you leave the next day for Greymouth, which will take you about 2.5 hours without stops just to hop on the train.

The drive from QT to Fox is beautiful and there are many reasons to stop en route - it's a narrow winding road and will take considerably more time to drive than the driving times suggest.

Driving from Christchurch to Mt Cook will take 3.5 hours - ONE WAY. This means you're spending SEVEN hours in a car for this particular day trip. That leaves you very little time to actually explore Tekapo and Mt Cook.

My suggestion - start over. Two weeks isn't much time and I highly recommend you scrap Auckland altogether and concentrate on the South Island, which is the jewel of NZ.

I assume you're flying some distance to get to NZ, yet you're allowing very little time to actually see it. If you scrap the North Island, you can connect from your international flight to a domestic flight to Christchurch or Queenstown and make a more efficient and leisurely quasi circle or figure 8 loop of the South Island.

For example -

Arrive Auckland - take domestic flight to Christchurch - overnight
Day Christchurch - overnight
Drive Christchurch to Mt Cook - two nights (this gives you one full day to explore)
Drive Mt Cook to Te Anau - two nights (this gives you one full day for Milford, three nights would give you a full day for the many walking tracks around Te Anau)
Drive Te Anau to Queenstown - 3-4 nights
Drive QT to Fox Glacier - two nights (this gives you a full day to explore Fox and Franz)
Take Tranzalpine to Christchurch - or better yet drive - the views are tremendous along the drive, not-so-much from the train
Depart Christchurch

OR - fly into Christchurch and fly out of Queenstown

If the Tranzalpine is a must for you, you can reverse the above itinerary - starting in Christchurch, taking the Transalpine to the west coast, then driving down to the glaciers, QT and Te Anau from there and then flying out of QT back to Christchurch, or driving back via Mt Cook

NZ looks small on a map, but its long, the roads are limited, narrow and winding and there are mountains one must drive around. You cannot rush these drives.

Two weeks is a decent amount of time to see a section of one island. Trying to cram both islands into two weeks can be very stressful and rushed, and you'll only see this beautiful country from inside your car.

PS - it feels really good to be helping with trips to NZ again - it's been far too long!
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Old May 6th, 2022, 09:11 AM
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You have some great suggestions, wish I had more time. My original trip was 3 weeks and had to reduce to 13 days. Anyway I agree South Island is the place to see, but I have friends in Auckland I want to spend sometime and am okay to reduce some my Auckland days. Few questions-
1 How many days are enough in QT?
2 How is the drive from Te Anau to Milford sound?
3 Would you advise 2 days in Milford or 1 day in Te Anau and 1 day in Milford?
4.Can you give some links to walking tracks in Te Anau & Milford?

Thanks
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Old May 6th, 2022, 09:50 AM
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I prefer a minimum of three nights in Queenstown, and that doesn't include Milford. There's a lot to see and do in the QT area and I don't think you'll have any trouble filling two full days (you'll probably leave wanting more).

The drive from Te Anau to Milford is easy and takes about two hours, but some people prefer to take a bus so they can take in the scenery. I'm not one of those people, I've visited many times, at many times of year and I much prefer the self-drive to a bus, but it really depends on your comfort level with driving on the left. There are many opportunities to pull off the road and take in the views, or pull off and take a hike, etc, which is part of why I prefer self-drive.

You only need one day in Milford - most people go for a day cruise and then return to Te Anau or QT and most of that day is spent driving and taking in the scenery and hikes on Milford Road. If you take an overnight cruise that's a different story, but there's really nothing IN Milford other than the boat dock, a short hike or two and a hotel and a restaurant. Milford is all about the cruise (unless you're hiking the Milford Track, which is a different animal altogether).

If you plan well and leave Te Anau early, you can include one of many hikes on Milford Road, then continue to the cruise terminal and take a boat cruise, then return to Te Anau or do it in reverse.

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Old May 6th, 2022, 09:54 AM
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Working on those hiking links. Watch this space.
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Old May 6th, 2022, 09:56 AM
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https://www.fiordland.org.nz/see-and...rd-road-walks/ - I highly recommend Key Summit.

https://www.fiordland.org.nz/see-and...walks-te-anau/ - I highly recommend a section of the Kepler Track.
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Old May 6th, 2022, 10:16 AM
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Thank you for the suggestions and links.
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Old May 6th, 2022, 02:07 PM
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I have done the coach and cruise as a day trip to Milford ( you can also do it from Te Anau, I think). It's okay IF someone else is driving. There was also a costly option to fly back to Queenstown. If the weather is good and you don't have a budget I'd look into it.

I'm not sure that taking the train from Greymouth really is worthwhile. I would probably drive and attempt to hike a bit in Arthur's Pass or Castle Hill. If you are going to Mt. Cook I would just bypass Christchurch. Arthur's Pass via Methven and Geraldine to Tekapo is about 4 hours.
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Old May 6th, 2022, 02:35 PM
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Hi Melnq8,
How is driving on the left side? I haven't driven in several years on the left side.
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Old May 6th, 2022, 02:38 PM
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Hi mlgb,
I would love to drive but driving on the left side prevents me from jumping into it.
I will research the drive.
Thanks
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Old May 6th, 2022, 04:26 PM
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How is driving on the left side?

It's fine, just takes a bit of getting used to. Only you can determine your comfort level.

Had you not planned to drive? This might explain your awkward itinerary.
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Old May 7th, 2022, 07:28 AM
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Coming from the UK driving on the left presents no problems for me but I have driven on the right many, many times in various places around the world . I find one soon adapts. i.e. hours not days. I wouldn’t worry about it too much as, if you were prepared to drive, it would make life a LOT easier. Driving is pretty easy in New Zealand though roads are mostly narrow and twisting and if you are used to 6 lane highways, it may come as a shock (but in a nice relaxing way!)

As you are aware ,you have very limited time and one thing that could be done to make life easier still is to book open jaw tickets into Auckland and out of Christchurch this avoiding any back tracking. Indeed, if you weren’t visiting friends in Auckland , I would suggest skipping Auckland and possibly the entire north island completely and concentrating on the SI only. For me the beauty of NZ is in teh countryside not the cities so I would only ever spend minimal time in Christchurch or any of the cities.

In terms of what to see and which way to go, NZ, because of its topography is one of the more complex countries on the planet for which to plan and itinerary. With just 13 days you would need to be very very selective.

For me the South Island “must sees” would include the oft underrated Lake Tekapo which is within striking distance of the unmissable Mount Cook. We are invariably in a camper van which we pick up in Christchurch and will always make our first stop in Geraldine. I am sure I am in a minority but Queenstown is somewhere to pass through not somewhere I would be inclined to stay. Though the surrounding areas are stunning. Glenorchy is wonderful. I much prefer the smaller Wanaka and Mt Aspiring area to QT.

The top of the South Island has a multitude of places very much worth exploring. Akaroa is beautiful (though can be ruined if a cruise ship arrives!. Abel Tasman NP is stunning and we really love the area around Golden Bay and Farewell Spit and Marlborough Sounds are a good accessible alternative if you don't want to go all the way down to Milford or Doubtful Sound.

Some of these places we covered in our blog in more detail @ https://accidentalnomads.com/category/new-zealand/

Feb is peak tourist season in NZ and , given the country has bee closed off for the last 2 years, I would get on and book accommodations etc, sooner rather than later.



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Old May 7th, 2022, 09:00 AM
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Melnq8,
I love to drive, I have driven in UK several times, but as you age the brain is slow sometimes. I have plans to drive but minimal. I am driving from QT to Greymouth and CHC to Mt. Cook.
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Old May 7th, 2022, 09:02 AM
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Crellston,

Being selective has been hard. I my accommodation all secured. I will certainly look at you blog. Thank you for your suggestions.
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