North / South Island time split

Old Jul 21st, 2003, 08:07 PM
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North / South Island time split

Planning a trip in Feb/Mar. We will have close to a month so plan to visit both islands. I get the sense from reading the posts that people seem to prefer the south island. We were thinking that we should spend time in the North Island as it will be more different from home (British Columbia). This assumes it is more tropical.

Have looked into the Milford Track but I am not sure we want to commit 5 days and it might be a bit strenuous for us. Would be interested in comments on good day hikes for that time of year. 12 km round trip or so.

Any comments would be appreciated.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2003, 12:27 AM
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John - I don't know where you plan to go, but here a few suggestions for day tramps on the South Island:

Avalanche Peak - 7 km, moderate, starts and finishes in Arthur's Pass Village.

Queen Charlotte Track - it takes four days to do the entire track, but you can also walk segments. You can be dropped off at your starting point by boat, then have the boat collect you at the end of your walk. One possible day walk is Torea Bay (not far by boat from Picton) to Mistletoe Bay - 9 km.

It's also quite feasible to tramp portions of some of the longer tracks, then backtrack. Milford Track is an exception, however, as it's strictly regulated and you can only walk in one direction during the summer.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2003, 02:45 PM
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Thank you for the suggestions. Can you advise on the pros and cons of the Abel Tasman vs QC Track options. The QC track looks great with the possible exception of the one long day which looks like it might stretch our fitness levels a bit!! However, it does look like one can bail out part way if on the guided hike.

If one hikes unguided (freedom) is navigation an issue or are the paths well signed? I am thinking about some hiking we did in the UK Lake District where we did have to resort to the compass a couple of times in the high ground.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2003, 07:12 PM
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We've never taken a guided hike, but we've not had any problems navigating, as the tracks are well marked.

We walked a very small portion of the QC track last year, and we plan to do more of it this September, weather permitting. What little we did see (we began at Anakiwa) made us want to see alot more!

Camp Bay to Torea Saddle is the hardest section of the QC track, but it's also supposed to be the most rewarding. It's 20 km and can take up to eight hours, depending on your fitness level.

I can't compare the QC track to Abel Tasman, as I've no first hand experience with AT, but I hope to change that this fall.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2003, 08:32 AM
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It is true that NZ's Southern Alps can be somewhat reminiscent of BC's Rockies. I still like the Milford Track, though. While some of the days are quite long, there is only one day that would be classified as strenuous. I'm approaching 50, and am somewhat 'over-nourished' - it wan't easy for me, but I wasn't exhausted either. Also, if you go as a, "Free Walker" (i.e. using the NZ Dept of Conservation huts), it will only take you 4 days. As mentioned above, this Track is tightly regulated, but I view that as a bonus - even at the peak of the summer season, you will not see very many trampers along the route. If you want to go, you will need to make a reservation with DOC very soon.

The North Island has lots of interesting places, but even in summer, it is by no means tropical.
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Old Jul 24th, 2003, 10:57 AM
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If you are iffy about whether to do the Milford trek than I would highly recommend not doing it as a free walker-- the benefits of getting your clothes fully dry and eating a hot meal prepared by someone else (accompanied by NZ wine!) should not be underestimated. (Also, they may let you pay a little extra to fly your pack out the final day.) It's a great trek, but I am sure whatever you do will be beautiful too.
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Old Jul 25th, 2003, 12:34 AM
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Hi John
I absolutely love BC so hope you will enjoy NZ also. It is true that the two islands differ quite a bit, and as you are coming in the warmest part of the year you might like to experience the north island's east coast from Waihi to Whitianga which is studded with lovely beaches, natural bush, farmland and offshore islands. Great seafood, kiwifruit winery, organic produce, fresh fruit and a relaxing lifestyle off the beaten track sums up this area.
My suggestion if heading north would be Wellington, Martinborough, (wineries), over the desert road to Tongariro National Park, Lake Taupo, Rotorua, Whakatane and up the coast as I have already mentioned, then through to Auckland. Or vice versa.
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Old Jul 27th, 2003, 08:57 AM
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Kathy. Thanks for the suggestions. I have a couple of questions.

Would you recommend the Martinborough area over Napier? Originaaly we were thinking about heading from Wellington up to Napier but your suggestion puts us on a different route which is fine.

Is Taupo the best overnite point after the Desert Road. Should we consider Turangi? Had looked at hiking the Crossing but decided it might be too demanding for us.

If we go to Waitomo is it better to go west from Turangi and up highway 4 or north and then west from Taupo.

Thanks.
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Old Jul 29th, 2003, 02:55 AM
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Hi John
Interesting questions, some I've asked myself before when tripping round.
Firstly Martinborough - a small town with the burgeoning of the wine industry there it has rejuvenated the whole area with some nice B & B's, cafes and an olde worldy feel.
Napier - a city so more to see and very interesting, not only a flourishing wine industry also but after the 1932 earthquake it was rebuilt in the style of the times - art deco so if you're interested in architecture it has much to offer. Also the gannet colony out on the coast is well worth a visit. It's also a good antique centre and there are some very interesting exhibits relating to the earthquake in their museum. Going north west from Napier you head to Taupo and if so you will miss Tongariro National Park unless you double back from Taupo, extra 1 1/2 hours drive. Re the Crossing, it is quite a hike but there are a number of shorter hikes starting from the rangers station at National Park. Best to register your name with them if you are away all day.
Your last question is very debateable.
Overnight in Turangi would be fine but Taupo is a pretty town. However the drive from Turangi to Waitomo is on a quieter road and passes through some stunning farmland with large sheep stations. If you go this way, you miss the drive round the lake to Taupo and the trip over to Waitomo from Taupo is an easy one. Maybe you can wing it and decide once you are here, accomodation won't be a problem if you are flexible.
If you are in the south island first and you feel you have had your fill of beautiful mountain scenery, then maybe the Napier way is for you, if you want to get up close to an active volcano, then up through the middle is the way.
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Old Jul 29th, 2003, 07:33 AM
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Thanks you very much for this information. It is very useful. The other item we have to plan for or around is that I believe the Ironman is on at the time we would plan to pass through the Taupo area.
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Old Jul 30th, 2003, 02:06 AM
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Hi John
If so then definitely book well ahead for Taupo, you can always cancel nearer the time if necessary. The Ironman is a very big event.
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