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New Zealnd 17 days--North to Top of the South Itinerary

New Zealnd 17 days--North to Top of the South Itinerary

Old Jul 27th, 2016, 06:05 PM
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New Zealnd 17 days--North to Top of the South Itinerary

Hi everyone, I found this itinerary online , can someone havea look and advise if its great for first time visitors and which part would you skip to go to Queenstown (and around) for 3 days ...my total number of days in NZ is 17 days (excluding flying in and out )


http://www.newzealand.com/ca/trips-a...h-via-kaitaia/
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Old Jul 27th, 2016, 07:26 PM
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Well, it's obviously doable if you're on a tour, but if you plan to self drive, I'd advise against it. Are you comfortable with constant moving around? Are you comfortable with driving on the left and navigating yourself through cities? Are you comfortable with driving every single day? If so, it might work for you.

I don't know where you're coming from, but don't underestimate the effects of jet lag. It's also prudent to allow yourself some wiggle room for bad weather (of which there is plenty in NZ). Also, keep in mind daylight hours - what time of year are you traveling?

As for what I'd skip to go to QT - I'd skip the entire North Island. Seriously, I would. There is just so much to see and do on the SI, that your 17 days might note seem like enough there.

The problem with itineraries like this are trying to fit both islands into too little time. It's full on enough without trying to change/add add things, such as Queenstown, which is about a seven hour from Greymouth (I assume you'd add it at this juncture as that's what makes the most sense).

You'd want to break up the journey from Greymouth to Queenstown as this very long drive is made even longer by all the reasons to stop en route - the glaciers, the scenery, etc.

So that would only leave you a couple of days in QT, and then you'd have to fly back from QT to Christchurch and then on to Auckland (assuming that's your departure point?). So, it'd add a lot of driving to an already too busy itinerary.

Have you considered flying into Wellington (assuming that's an attraction for you, taking the ferry to Picton and then working your way to QT down the West Coast?

OR seeing a bit of the NI, then flying from wherever you end up to Queenstown and perhaps working your way back to Christchurch from there? Still too busy for my personal tastes, but it might work for you if you're energetic and are traveling when there is plenty of daylight.
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Old Jul 28th, 2016, 12:05 AM
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Great you are coming here Webrahul but I think planning your own trip would be much better.
The title made me smile .... Auckland to Christchurch via Kaitaia! No route is via Kaitaia - that's an entirely separate trip.
I wonder if the writer has actually drive the tour themselves? I find the road between Taupo and Napier very boring but maybe that's just me.
Leave out the far north and this will give you time for Queenstown.
Day 4 to 9 are okay but some driving every day. Maybe add another day in Rotorua.
From Picton drive to Christchurch via Kaikoura. It's a lovely drive down the coast or you could take the train.
Fly Christchurch to Queenstown for a few days.
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Old Jul 28th, 2016, 01:16 PM
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What time of year will you be in New Zealand, and does your 17 days include flights to and from NZ?

Lee An
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Old Jul 28th, 2016, 02:55 PM
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Thank you so much for all your response --@Melnq8--I am flying from North america to Hawaii and 1 day stopover in Hawaii, I will stay in AKL atleast 2 days so that should help with jetlag...I read some good things about Rotoura (u think its a must do?) Everyone says great things about south island and that there is so much to see and do there. If I do 4 days in north island and then take the ferry to south island , with about 12 days then what would you all recommend that I absolutely do?

I want to do QT last and then fly to AKL to catch my flight out. QT is the most talked about place in NZ - I want to ask you guys what all can i do there and do I stay there and do day trips or stay in other places? and where would u recommend I go near QT.

@tasmangirl -the itinerary is funny I guess they want more tourism in Kaitaia. I have no preference to drive /bus /train or fly , whatever works. But will definitely look into Christchurch to Picton

@ElendilPickle i am coming in November
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Old Jul 28th, 2016, 05:50 PM
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I'm a bit confused - you've already booked flights and decided to stay in Auckland for two days and 12 days on the SI, so I assume the above itinerary was never a contender?

As for what to do in Queenstown:

http://www.queenstownnz.co.nz/

QT is talked about for a reason - it's gorgeous. But, it's also very touristy. Not that that's a bad thing, per se, just a thing to be aware of.

If you've been to Yellowstone Nat'l Park, Rotoura might be anti-climatic. It was for me anyway, but as you can probably tell, the NI didn't knock my socks off anyway.

Queenstown is a good base for day trips to Arrowtown, Glenorchy and Wanaka. There's loads to do in/around QT itself as well.
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Old Jul 28th, 2016, 07:57 PM
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thanks for your response , I have not decided anything yet thats why i am here , my flights are booked to and from AKL - I got a good deal so just booked it few months ago
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Old Aug 8th, 2016, 11:24 PM
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Is this a good start ?
Day 0 Arrive at night -sleep
Day 1 AKL
Day 2 AKL
Day 3 Rotoura By early morning bus
Day 4 Rotoura
Day 5 Wellington-Fly- Explore Wellington
Day 6 Picton- Ferry
Day 7 ? Not sure which way I should head once I get to Picton
Day 8 Greymouth maybe?
Day 9
Day 10 Mt cook?
Day 11 Mt Cook
Day 12
Day 13 QT
Day 14 QT
Day 15 QT
Day 16 Dunedin
Day 17 Dunedin(till evening)

Any advise would be much appreciated here , please feel free to tell me if I should skip or add some thing here . Thanks
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Old Aug 9th, 2016, 10:03 AM
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I think it's over ambitious.

At the very least, I suggest you skip Dunedin and end your SI tour in Queenstown.

Your proposed SI itinerary is a bit wonky - you'll need to choose between the West Coast route (Greymouth, glaciers) and the inland route (Mt Cook). You just don't have enough time to do both, which are separated by a mountain range and will require copious amounts of drive time to get between the two.

Some suggested routes that might work with your amount of time, (although it'd still be rushed IMO):

Picton-Blenheim-Kaikoura-Christchurch-Mt Cook-Wanaka-Queenstown (I assume you plan to visit Milford from QT)?

Or this:

Picton-Nelson/Motueka-Murchison-Reefton-Punakaiki-Greymouth-Franz Josef/Fox glaciers-Wanaka-Queenstown

Or this:

Picton-Nelson/Blenhaim-Kaikoura-Christchurch-Arthurs Pass-Greymouth-Glaciers-Wanaka-Queenstown

These are only suggested routes - where you stay and for how long will depend on your particular interests, but do keep in mind traveling in NZ take a lot longer than you might expect, so its best to think in terms of hours on the road vs actual mileage.

I use this site to plan all my trips to NZ, but I add several hours to the estimated drive times, as we like to stop a lot en route.

http://www.aa.co.nz/travel/time-and-...734.1465956175
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Old Aug 9th, 2016, 06:25 PM
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Hi webrahul. Will you be driving or taking the bus around the South Island? Because this will affect your travel plans.

As Melnq8 noted, from Picton, most visitors drive west to Nelson (close to Abel Tasman National Park) and then drive to the West Coast; OR south to Kaikoura (fur seals, dolphin swims, whale watching, pelagic bird viewing) on the East Coast, then continue down to Christchurch. At Christchurch, travelers can drive south through the center (Tekapo-Lake Pukaki-Mt. Cook Village-Lindis Pass) or drive west over the Southern Alps through Arthuur's Pass to the West Coast. Some continue from Christchurch down the East Coast to Oamaru and then Dunedin, but the stretch between Christchurch and Oamaru is not considered scenic. The two routes Melnq8 suggested are good.

Kaikoura is small, whereas you could spend days exploring Nelson/Abel Tasman/Golden Bay. Both areas are gorgeous.

Are you thinking of staying in Greymouth? Not many tourists stay there (though I have). It's a town you pass through driving along the West Coast, between Punakaiki and Hokitika (both are more interesting). Or if you're driving from Christchurch over Arthur's Pass, you'll reach the West Coast at Greymouth and then drive 40 to 45 minutes north to Punakaiki or drive 35 minutes south to Hokitika. Have a look at this touring map:
http://www.newzealand.com/travel/library/p23573_23.pdf

Punakaiki has the geological marvel, "Pancake Rocks"; dramatic coastline; walking tracks; wekas (large flightless bird) and sandflies (which you can encounter all along the South Island's West Coast). It's small and somewhat isolated, with not many shops or services, but beautiful. See: http://www.punakaiki.co.nz/
Hokitika is also on the coast, has pounamu (South Island jade) shops; a pebbly beach; a tree top walk; a small, free, accessible glowworm dell; a kiwi centre. Pretty Hokitika Gorge is 33 kms away. It's much larger than Punakaiki and has restaurants, a large supermarket, cinema, petrol stations, more accommodation. See: http://www.hokitika.org/places/59/Hokitika-Gorge

Could you please say more about your interests and what you'd most like to see and do? What sparked your interest in coming here? I'm guessing you'd like to see mountains, glaciers, lakes, coastal, Rotorua's geothermal sites and Maori culture. Are you planning to hike, heli-hike on a glacier, swimming with dolphins or seals, bungy jump, skydive, take a jet boat (and so on)?

For instance, you've put Dunedin on your list. Dunedin is a bit out of the way (3.75 hours to Queenstown, Wanaka or Te Anau, or 4 hours from Mt. Cook Village), but it is a major destination for those interested in seeing wildlife, especially penguins, sea lions and albatrosses. November is a great time for seeing wildlife. However, November and December tend to be Dunedin's wettest months (and windy, too). It's also colder down here. There are other wildlife destinations in New Zealand that might be less out of the way (though it depends on what you'd like to see).

What do you hope to see and do in Auckland? Do I understand correctly that you'll have three nights and two full days there? If you don't have big plans, you might be able to cut this down to two nights, one full day in Auckland, as this would give you another day for touring the South Island. You don't need three nights to get over jetlag if you'll be catching the bus to Rotorua (good idea).

What do you hope to do and see in Wellington? Because you'll have less than a day for it, so you'd have to choose well. Depending on how early your flight from Rotorua is, you'd have time to visit the must-see Te Papa Museum, walk along the waterfront, and take the Cable Car to the top of the hill, where, if it's still early enough and if the weather is fine, you can explore the adjacent Botanic Garden. When done you can take the Cable Car back down again or walk down through the garden to the CBD. Wellington easily explored on foot. Here's a link to a CBD map:
http://www.wellingtonnz.com/assets/U...wntown-Map.pdf
Cable Car Link
http://www.wellingtonnz.com/discover...ton-cable-car/

Lord of the Rings/Hobbit fans might prefer to visit Wellington's Weta Workshop in Miramar, not too far from the CBD.
http://www.wellingtonnz.com/discover...weta-workshop/
http://www.wikihow.com/Visit-the-Wet...-in-Wellington

Wildlife lovers might prefer Zealandia, Wellington's beautiful ecosanctuary, right in the city. During the day, free shuttles travel to Zealandia for those without their own transport. These leave from the CBD (near the I-Site) or near the top of the Cable Car and Botanic Garden.
http://www.visitzealandia.com/

Regarding Queenstown. If you have three full days in Queenstown. You could explore the town on your first day (Botanic Garden, Skyline Gondola, maybe jet boat), take an all-day coach tour to Milford Sound (or fly back) on your second day, and on your last day self-drive or take a tour to Glenorchy (45 minutes away). There's more to see around Queenstown if you had an extra day.
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Old Aug 9th, 2016, 06:55 PM
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Sorry for the typos, meant to ask:

Could you please say more about your interests and what you'd most like to see and do? What sparked your interest in coming here? I'm guessing you'd like to see mountains, glaciers, lakes, coastal scenery, Rotorua's geothermal sites and Maori culture. Are you planning to hike, heli-hike on a glacier, swim with dolphins or seals, bungy jump, skydive, take a jet boat (and so on)?
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Old Aug 9th, 2016, 08:42 PM
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@ Melnq8 and @ Diamantina- thank you so so much for taking the time to help me with my plans ...Although I change my thoughts every day about where exactly I want to go, I am leaning towards the west coast option as I think I will be able to see and do more .

I have no preference for mode of transport - I can drive , take bus(which will give me some rest ) or fly where I have to skip a large area. I am traveling alone and will be staying in Hostels so I need to decide on where I will make stops (for e.g. QT for 4 days and then travel around)

Diamantina -As for my interest I don’t have one kind of thing I want to do - I like nature, water(there’s tons of beautiful lakes I Canada too but I wold love to see some in NZ) ,Caves, Scenic walks, and most importantly any different that NZ has to offer , I have watched tons of travel shows on NZ since I was a kid and have been fascinated to visit . Skydive? Probably not – I think I am not sure if I would enjoy it . Although Heli hike sounds awesome I never thought of that before, I have never seen a glacier so I think I should definitely do that

As for AKL, Wellington and Dunedin
• I can definitely make it 2 nights in AKL, I am not worried about jet lag , my flight is from Hawaii (9 hours-where I will get rest before). I think I should be okay.

• I picked Wellington to take the ferry to Picton – I believe both the ferry route and the City are beautiful.

• Dunedin – because I saw -http://www.dunedinrailways.co.nz one a must do list somewhere online …lol and then I can fly from here to AKL to take my flight out of NZ.


• QT is most challenging as I don’t know if I should just book a hostel there and take day trips or move to different places, I can definitely do 4 days there.

• How many days would you give to Mt cook and what would you recommend doing there?

• Rotorua seems very interesting – not sure if 2 days would suffice.

And once again thank you very much for responding with so much interest 
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Old Aug 10th, 2016, 07:01 PM
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Webrahul, if your main reason for visiting Dunedin is for the Taieri Gorge Railway, forget it, save yourself the trouble and use your precious time to see other parts of the South Island. The train trip is nice, but not spectacular. In all fairness, I did it winter after a snowstorm because I thought it'd pretty with snow on the mountaintops, but it was a grey day; the sky was brooding and the scenery looked dull. I think this trip must be best from February to April, when the weather is best (blue skies, bright colors) or when the autumn leaves put on a show. Winter usually brings clear, sunny days, but many trees are bare. November could be rainy and grey.

The first and last 15 minutes of the train trip goes through ugly railway yards in a neglected, industrial section of Dunedin, not nice at all. The journey improves after this and the gorge itself is lovely, but it's only part of the trip. The old train is fun, but the journey seems long when the weather's not great. Dunedin Railways also sometimes runs a short 90-minute trip along the coast to Blueskin Bay, which I enjoyed more (but I like coastlines, plus this trip was hosted by famed NZ potter, the late Barry Brickell, which made it even more special).

The absolute best thing to do in Dunedin is the Elm Wildlife Tour.
https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/Attrac...th_Island.html

Eliminate Dunedin, and you'll have time for the rest of your trip.
If you take the Milford Sound Cruise (you should), you might see Fiordland Crested Penguins as it'll be breeding season. You'll surely see fur seals, and maybe bottlenose dolphins.

Two days Mt. Cook Village, if you visit it at all. This will give you time to take some walks. Also, if you have two days, this doubles your chance of having good weather, as the weather can be unsettled in November. The hostel at Mt. Cook is very popular and books up early, I understand. I think this You Tube video will give you an idea of what it's like to drive there and to walk on the Hooker Valley track:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuWJKVpGmfc

Regarding Queenstown. I get it. If you spend four nights there, less moving and driving around, but what if you don't like Queenstown? It's pretty, but busy. Also taking a coach tour to Milford Sound from Queenstown will take all day and night. Lots of time on the bus!

FYI: The Queenstown Marathon is on November 19. Busy, busy, busy!

Maybe you could do two nights Queenstown, two nights Te Anau. You'll have more driving to do. But you could do the coach tour from Te Anau, so less time on the bus. Plus, you'll get to spend time in Te Anau, which is quieter and also scenic (on Lake Te Anau) and has its own nice walking tracks. You could also squeeze in a visit to the Glowworm Cave, if you have time to spare. The Jucy Coach Tour seems to be the cheapest.
http://www.jucycruize.co.nz/transpor...rd-cruise.aspx
Real Journeys gives a discount if you book two of their experiences. I think the Coach Tour to Milford Sound from Te Anau and the Te Anau Glowworm Tour would qualify for this discount, but it may not work out to a very good value in the end.
https://www.realjourneys.co.nz/en/sp...0-multi-saver/

If you're comfortable driving, you'd be much much better off driving around the South Island because bus schedules can be restrictive, plus you can stop when and where you'd like if you self-drive and get to places not served by the bus.
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Old Aug 11th, 2016, 07:58 PM
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About the glacier heli-hike. Pretty sure you'd love it, but it's expensive and could be cancelled in poor weather. It's almost surreal walking with crampons on icy surfaces and through passages of bluish ice. If you can afford it, do it. Trips are popular and book up early. Read about it here:
http://www.franzjosefglacier.com/
http://www.foxguides.co.nz/

To do the heli-hike, you'd probably have to spend two nights in the area. If not doing the heli-hike, one night would probably do, as you have little time.

Franz Josef and Fox villages are about a half hour apart, by way of a twisty road.

If your heli-hike gets cancelled, and you're in FJ, go for a walk, or visit the hot pools, or Kiwi centre, or nearby Okarito Lagoon or beach; there are many other things to do. You'll need insect repellent for the West Coast.
http://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/par...gion-walks.pdf

The easy Lake Matheson walk near Fox is popular.
http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-rec...matheson-walk/
http://www.newzealand.com/int/feature/lake-matheson/

Lake Matheson is said to be best in the morning or late afternoon, when you can see Mt. Cook reflections. I've visited at both times and couldn't see Mt. Cook because it was cloudy. The walk was still nice. There's a cafe as well: http://www.lakematheson.com/cafe/

FJ's easy Peter's Pool walk also has reflections. http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-rec...ers-pool-walk/

Here's a NZ-walks-under-an-hour list, by region:
http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-rec...-under-1-hour/

The amazing thing about West Coast glaciers is that they terminate in temperate rainforests (though they're quickly receding). Plus, they're relatively close to the ocean. Receding glaciers:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/indu...ue-for-tourism

If driving south from the glaciers, your next destination should be Wanaka to overnight. It's beautiful and you could spend days here, if you had time. The drive from the glaciers to Wanaka is beautiful, but somewhat demanding with many curves. The portion through Haast Pass can be affected by slips, but NZ Transportation makes every effort to clear these slips for the many travelers on this route. If it rains a lot when you're here, ask about road conditions beforehand. Or check this website:
http://www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/?lay...,road-closures
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Old Aug 11th, 2016, 08:04 PM
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By the way, Mt. Cook Village has several easy walks with glacier and glacier lake views. Kea Point Track brings you to the Mueller Glacier lake lookout. Hooker Valley Track brings you to the Hooker Glacier terminal lake lookout. Unlike Franz Josef or Fox, you won't be surrounded by such lush green rainforest, but you'll see lots of trees and, above the treeline, alpine plants, perhaps the Mt. Cook lily.

The first glacier I visited was in your Canada, the Columbia Icefields.
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Old Aug 11th, 2016, 10:40 PM
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Hey , thank you again for your help, I really appreciate your detailed reply and insight ...here is what I am thinking so far from what you have suggested , these are the cities I am thinking of booking hostels for ..will drive or take the bus :

Day 0 Arrive at night sleep
Day 1 AKL
Day 2 AKL
Day 3 Rotoura By early morning bus
Day 4 Rotoura
Day 5 Wellington Fly
Day 6 Picton Ferry
Day 7 Nelson Drive
Day 8 Punakaiki Bus
Day 9 hotakika via greymouth
Day 10 franz/fox Drive
Day 11 franz/fox
Day 12 mtcook via Wanaka Drive
Day 13 mt cook
Day 14 QT
Day 15 QT/Te Anau
Day 16 QT/Te Anau
Day 17 QT


I hope this isnt rushing . You're right Heli hike is a little expensive but there is an option for walk and I will know better if I can afford it once I get there(depending on how much spend before)..I will start making a list of things I will cover in each city and maybe post here again , you have been great help , I really enjoy reading your response, I wonder how you know everything so well u must love NZ

I have heard great things about Banff/Jasper national park- hope to go there one day , domestic travel here is so expensive that I am always tempted to go outside the country.

Now that I have some plan in place I will start reading about individual cities/areas and will come back to ask you questions .

Good day/Good night
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Old Aug 12th, 2016, 03:21 AM
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I think one-way car rentals for just a day (Picton to Nelson) might be very expensive. Intercity bus leaves Picton for Nelson at 1 p.m. (an Interisland ferry from Wellington arrives to Picton at 12:45 p.m.) There might be second bus to Nelson at 6 p.m. as well.

Are you referring to Franz Josef Glacier "Glacier Forest Walk"? You don't need to pay them to do this walk, you can do it on your own. See ElendiPickle's (Lee Ann's) trip report for May 27:
http://www.fodors.com/community/aust...-june-2016.cfm

Franz Josef to Mt. Cook Village is too far to drive, which is why you should overnight in Wanaka, which is really beautiful.

Have you looked into Stray or Kiwi Experience trips and bus passes?
http://www.straytravel.com/
http://www.kiwiexperience.com/

For Auckland to Rotorua, check out InterCity, Intercity's tour company Great Sights, or HeadFirst.
http://www.intercity.co.nz/
http://www.intercity.co.nz/tours/
http://www.greatsights.co.nz/new-zealand-tours
http://travelheadfirst.com/

You might enjoy this travel article about Rotorua that appeared in our local newspaper last week:
https://www.odt.co.nz/lifestyle/trav...ill-captivates

Banff and Lake Louise are beautiful. I'm sure you'll get there (maybe after Air Canada has sale on domestic airfares). I enjoyed Jasper, too, but I didn't spend much time there. The road between them is wonderful, lots of bighorn sheep. I'm glad I didn't hit any!
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Old Aug 12th, 2016, 09:32 PM
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you're right its a long drive , you cant just go from point a to seems a lot closer on the map)
I hope Mt cook is good because I am going all the way south and then North and I have to come back south for QT.(realising now lol)

Yes I'm referring to Franz Josef Glacier "Glacier Forest Walk", it was on the same link a heli hike.

and I just found a $1 ticket from Picton to Nelson & AKL-Rot on intercity , do u think itt would be a good idea to stay in Picton for another day and perhaps expore around?

Interesting article about Rotorua, very excited for geothermal pools...I hope 2 days are enough there.

Finally things are coming together
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Old Aug 13th, 2016, 01:54 AM
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I'm glad things are coming together for you. Given how little time you have for your entire trip, two days is enough for Rotorua. Wait until you see the South Island. Your time here definitely won't be enough.

If you have doubts about Mt. Cook Village, don't go there, spend more time in Nelson, Wanaka, Queenstown, or Rotorua, which you seem very attracted to. Afterall, you could go to Mt. Cook Village and it could be bad weather, or you might not like the looks of it or its walks (not likely).
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Old Aug 28th, 2016, 11:50 AM
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Hi Diamantina, I have startedd booking flights, bus and hostels , just had a few question , would u suggest 3 full days in Rotorua (will skip picton and move onto Nelson) or would u suggest I keep it 2 days?

Also after Hokitaka if I go towards Franz Joseph & Fox glacier (for 2 days) is it possible to drive with my economy rental car or I should take the bus?
Also can u advise what special shoes/clothes I should carry for Franz joseph and Fox glacier area . Thanks
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