Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Australia & the Pacific
Reload this Page > NZ - Before I get in too deep, itinerary help appreciated!

NZ - Before I get in too deep, itinerary help appreciated!

Reply

Jul 7th, 2018, 09:46 AM
  #21
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,233
For what it's worth

If you are interested in Kaikoura, be sure to research what the state of road repairs and delays is before you finalize your itinerary. I assume you know about the major earthquakes that happened there in 2016 and then the tail end of a cyclone earlier this year.

If it looks like Kaikoura will eat up too much time, you can instead look at the Arthur's Pass route to the west coast. I've been to Hanmer (to play the golf course and sit in the hot springs) and it isn't that special. I went to Kaikoura on the train once, when that used to run. In fact the Coastal Pacific is supposed to return in 2019, You may want to keep an eye on that, and possibly do it as an out and back from Chch instead of Akaroa.

If you switch over to the Arthur's Pass Route, there is a good stop partway at Castle Hill (some scenes from Narnia shot there). You'll find plenty of Kea at the pullouts around the Arthur's Pass Village and probably at the pass overlook.

Re Mt. Cook there is an RV Park called Glentanner. My best views of Mt. Cook have been early and late in the day. I have never been in Feb-March so not sure what the weather is like then.

I like to stay in Hokitika so that I can visit the night time glow worm dell. Then you don't need to do the Te Anau glowworms .
https://www.newzealand.com/us/articl...low-worm-dell/

I am not as big a fan of Te Anau as some other people, perhaps because I don't care for sand flies (and am actually allergic to their bites). I prefer to spend more time on the drier side of the Southern Alps. So other than the times I hiked the Milford Track, and the Humpridge, I visited SW Fiordland as an out and back from Queenstown (once for Milford and once for Doubtful). The tours include a bus and boat, or some include a flight back which I understand is spectacular although pricy.

Just in case you turn out to have the dreaded sandfly allergy, bring DEET , a strong antihistamine pill and cream, and don't take your socks off to wring them out! (I learned this the hard way). I carry Benadryl which gets into the bloodstream more quickly. I was passing it out like candy on the Humpridge track. If you get bites that start to itch or turn red, start the meds ASAP. And "don't scratch the tops off".

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/trave...dfly-89681424/

Last edited by mlgb; Jul 7th, 2018 at 09:59 AM.
mlgb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2018, 10:16 AM
  #22
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 437
These are fantastic tips! I'm going to reevaluate my itinerary. Maybe skip Kaikoura and do the Caitlins instead? Seeing wildlife is always a highlight for me. I was disappointed to miss Arthur's Pass, but I thought if we visit Kaikoura it would make more sense to do Lewis Pass. I was only stopping in Hamner Springs for convenience. I would also definitely like to avoid sandflies as much as possible! I was also only going to stay in Arrowtown to avoid the crowds in Queenstown. But with a campervan, it probably makes more sense to stay in Queenstown so we can just leave the van and walk around. I'm not even sure I want to go to Queenstown since we aren't doing any extreme sports, but everyone says it's a must-see. I would like to watch the bungee-jumpers though. This trip is more about scenery, nature, wildlife, experiencing life in a campervan, easy hikes, and staying in beautiful places.
Thanks,
Laurie
blackmons is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2018, 11:20 AM
  #23
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,585
Queenstown isn't all about extreme sports - there are some fabulous tracks in the area, as well as a huge number of wineries (growing all the time), cafes, etc. From QT you can get to Glenorchy in about 40 minutes - Glenorchy is also growing and they've recently opened some new camping facilities there.

I like Arrowtown as a base, although I don't know anything about camping there - there are lots of nice tracks accessible from Arrowtown - like QT, it's not all about the town - but about the surroundings. We were in Arrowtown in May and it's become quite the busy place with a ever growing assortments of cafes, etc. It's not the sleepy little town it once was (very little of NZ is sleepy anymore unfortunately).

Regarding that road construction near Kaikoura - we were shocked at the devastation when we drove through in May - huge sections of hillsides are gone having slipped in the earthquake - the coastline has forever changed - we barely recognized some of it. We had no traffic issues, but keep in mind that changes day to day and you'll be there in high season. Here's a photo:


Last edited by Melnq8; Jul 7th, 2018 at 11:38 AM.
Melnq8 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2018, 12:52 PM
  #24
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,233
Agree with Melnq8 re Glenorchy and also if you keep going to Kinloch.

https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-re...loch-campsite/

I like the Catlins. You might get lucky with the yellow-eyed penguins but I'd probably try to find a wildlife expert to guide you. Poor little guys are in decline.
mlgb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2018, 06:12 PM
  #25
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,690
I prefer Glenorchy/Kinloch as a place to stay over Arrowtown, too.
Arrowtown has a small but interesting "old town" (historic wooden buildings that now house shops and restaurants) that dates back to the Central Otago Gold Rush and the remnants of a related Chinese settlement down by the river, which is walking distance from the "old town". Because of these attractions, it draws a huge number of visitors during the day. I've never stayed in Arrowtown, but while staying in Queenstown gone into Arrowtown at night for dinner as it has some fine restaurants. I imagine many others do, too, as it's only about a 20 minute drive from the heart of Queenstown. Arrowtown gets the largest crowds in April when the autumn leaves put on a show. Otherwise, I don't find the town itself overly scenic. It's nice but there are many places that are just as nice. I hate to say this, but the newer parts of it seem suburban.

Glenorchy, on the other hand, is stunning. It sits right on gorgeous Lake Wakitipu and is surrounded by mountains. Just as Wanaka has its famed photogenic "lone willow tree" near its lakefront, Glenorchy's lakefront has its photogenic "red boat shed". In fact, it has an abundance of great views. The road from Queenstown to Glenorchy is considered one the most beautiful drives on the South Island. And the road(s) beyond Glenorchy (including Kinloch) are also worth exploring, this is wilderness/countryside, where you still might have to pause to let a farmer cross the road with his sheep and herding dogs. Many nice walks here for all abilities, good birdlife in native beech forests. I love the easy Lake Sylvan Track. There isn't much in terms of restaurants or shops. Glenorchy is sparsely inhabited. In fact, I would guess that in summer there are more visitors than permanent residents (363), though most of these will be day-trippers. You'll be able to buy a few groceries in Glenorchy but you'd be better off stocking up in Queenstown (Remarkables Shopping Centre near the airport). Glenorchy is a 45-minute drive from Queenstown, so if you are looking for a base for Queenstown explorations, this wouldn't be so convenient. Glenorchy is often described as being close to Queenstown but feeling a world away. If you stay in KInloch and get tired of your own cooking, Kinloch Lodge has a lovely restaurant (comfort food). For Glenorchy, here's a link for Camp Glenorchy:
https://www.theheadwaters.co.nz/camp-glenorchy/

Last edited by Diamantina; Jul 7th, 2018 at 06:16 PM.
Diamantina is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 8th, 2018, 06:21 AM
  #26
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,690
Here's a link to the Kinloch campsite:
https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-re...loch-campsite/
Have you looked at this link?
https://www.doc.govt.nz/campsites

Did you find out if you could do a one-way rental with the campervan and if it would cost any more than picking up and returning to the same place?

If driving from Hokitika or Punakaiki to Okarito or Franz Josef, you could easily do a White Heron Sanctuary Tour enroute. The season runs from mid-September to early March, and the times are 9.00AM/11.00AM/1.00PM/3.00PM. Why don't you call them a few days beforehand to find out how many chicks you're likely to see? I understand you can also see many other bird species. I've not done this tour myself but I've read great reviews. The reason I haven't done it is because I used to live in Northern California in a town with hundreds of Great White Egrets (Ardea Alba). The NZ White Heron is known in other countries (such as Australia) as the Eastern Great Egret (Ardea Alba Modesta) and is considered by many to be a subspecies of the Great White Egret. So if you're from the U.S., you'd likely be familiar with a bird that is almost like it. In NZ it is quite rare. It's thought they migrated over from Australia a few hundred years ago, with a few birds occasionally accidentally flying/blowing over and augmenting the population. A few frequent Dunedin, where I now live, outside of the breeding season. Whataroa is home to NZ's only breeding colony. You can read more about them here:
https://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/nativ...-heron-kotuku/
White heron | New Zealand Birds Online

I've done the Okarito Kiwi Tour and it's a lot of standing around in the dark forest being as silent as possible, waiting to spot a kiwi or two. Of course, it's pretty exciting when the kiwi appears. I did the tour in March and didn't find it buggy. He gives you one of those netted hats to protect against mosquitoes. Sandflies generally don't bite at night and I think mosquitoes are more of a concern when it's been raining (and there are standing pools of water). I preferred viewing kiwis on Stewart Island, where they can be seen during the day. (Stewart Island is great place for viewing birds.) But it's important to note that the Okarito brown kiwi (or rowi) is the rarest of kiwis.

The West Coast of the South Island is one of the best places to encounter sandflies (also in Fiordland). The last time I was in Okarito during the day I was swamped by them and I'm usually not bothered by them. On my previous visit, there were none. They're unpredictable. Sometimes they're there, sometimes they're not. so I wouldn't worry too much about themóbut do prepare. They supposedly don't do well in windy conditions (but it was very windy on my buggy visit to Okarito, so don't count on this). They're slow flyers, so it's recommended you keep moving. You also might find them in Glenorchy/Kinloch, and the Catlins. I've never been bothered by a sandfly in Dunedin (though who knows what the future will bring?). Here's a link to the sandfly nuisance map:
https://teara.govt.nz/en/map/14737/sandfly-nuisance-map
As you can see, from Dunedin to Christchurch, or Mt. Cook-Tekapo, they're not much of a concern.

If you're principally interested in going to Kaikoura to swim with seals, I don't think you'll need to spend two nights there. One night should do as it's less than a 3 hour drive from Christchurch to Kaikoura. I suggest checking with the seal swim operator to find out how often these tours are cancelled due to rough ocean conditions and, if this should happen, if you'd be able to reschedule for the following morning (if you wish).

According to Google Maps, it would take you 5 hours to drive on SH7 from Kaikoura to Punakaiki.

I'm fairly certain if you want to see penguins, you can in late February/early March. If you want to improve your chances, reverse your direction, and start off by heading south, from Christchurch to Aoraki Mt. Cook and then to Oamaru-the Otago Peninsula (Dunedin)-the Catlins. The NZ mainland is home to three species of penguins: Fiordland Crested (rare), Yellow Eyed (rare), and Little Blue. mlgb is quite right, the Yellow Eyed Penguin (Hoiho) population has been plummeting, but I'd be horrified if you couldn't see a few on the Otago Peninsula in Dunedin. You might also see them at Curio Bay (I included a couple of links to Curio Bay wildlife in my earlier post) and possibly from the Roaring Bay penguin hide near Nugget Point Lighthouse (90 minutes south of Dunedin), both in the Catlins. Adult Yellow Eyed Penguins return to their colonies each night during the late afternoon/early evening year-round, though when there are chicks around they may return to the nest earlier to feed the chicks. Chicks fledge by early March. The best way to see Yellow Eyed Penguins on the Otago Peninsula is to take the Elm Wildlife Tour. The last time I took this tour in mid-February 2016, I saw 13 Yellow Eyed Penguins, 8 sea lions (rarest sea lion in the world), about 200 fur seals, a few Northern Royal Albatrosses (endangered), and many other birds. We saw a couple of Little Blue Penguins in nests; they might have been moulting. The Yellow Eyed Penguin is solitary and anti-social so you're likely to only see one or two at a time.

The Otago Peninsula's Taiaroa Head is also home to a Little Blue Penguin colony, though it is not as large as the one in Oamaru. Some visitors object at having to pay to see the Little Blue Penguins, but the colonies in Oamaru and at Taiaroa Head are costly to maintain. While Little Blue Penguins can be seen all around NZ's coastline, they are hard to see because they swim ashore as it's getting truly dark, so the lights at these colonies make it easier to see them. These colonies conduct on-going predator trapping, plantings and maintenance of the habitat (which can be heavily damaged during storms), arrange treatment for injured, ill or underweight penguins, and conduct research . These colonies also protect these penguins from harmful human interference.
https://www.stuff.co.nz/timaru-heral...cited-tourists
The Little Blue Penguins gather together and then swim ashore in groups.
I suggest you look at TA reviews (check "Mar-May" under "Time of year"):
https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/Attrac...th_Island.html
https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/Attrac...th_Island.html

If you drive from Dunedin to Oamaru (100 minute drive), you can also try stopping at Moeraki's Katiki Point Lighthouse, home to a Yellow Eyed Penguin colony. Entry is free and it's often a kind of free-for-all with people getting far too close to penguins, frightening them, chasing them, making lots of noise, etc. I find it upsetting. These penguins don't need the added stress. I suggest reading this link: https://www.yellow-eyedpenguin.org.n...ublic-viewing/
Here's a link to the Dept. of Conservation link on Yellow Eyed Penguins:
https://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/nativ...penguin-hoiho/

If you make it to the Catlins, try to stay at Curio/Porpoise Bay so you can see the Yellow Eyed Penguins swim ashore at the petrified forest. If you decide to go from the Catlins to teh Otago Peninsula (Dunedin), you'd take the Southern Scenic Route. Along the way, I'd suggest stopping at Lost Gypsy Gallery, Florence Hill Lookout, Nugget Point Lighthouse and at Tunnel Beach Track (it's highly scenic but steep). If you come to Dunedin to see penguins, stay on the Otago Peninsula; there's holiday park in Portobello village. From Dunedin to Oamaru, I'd suggest stopping at Moeraki Boulders and if you feel like having lunch, at Fleur's Place in Moeraki village (reservations advised). The drive from Oamaru to Aoraki Mt. Cook is also scenic and takes 2.5 hours without stops, but you'd want to stop (for sure at Lake Pukaki and at Peter's Lookout) and perhaps detour to Elephant Rocks and the Clay Cliffs. You'll want to stock up on groceries before leaving for Aoraki Mt. Cook as it's a small place without grocery stores.

Last edited by Diamantina; Jul 8th, 2018 at 06:28 AM.
Diamantina is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 8th, 2018, 07:21 AM
  #27
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,048
Another vote for spending time in Glenorchy or Kinloch rather than Arrowtown. We have been through Queenstown several times but have only stayed once as, for some reason the place just didn’t appeal. Probably too crowded after weeks of isolation!

We stayed in a couple of freedom sites up there on our last trip. Twenty Five Mile Bay and Meiklejohn Bay on the Glenorchy -Queenstown Rd - both had great views. Also at a place near Paradise, I think it was Glacier Burn, but that involved some driving on rough gravel roads so you may want to check with your rental company if that is ok You can find these site on one of the Campsite apps.

Diamantina has provided some great suggestions for the Carlin’s, an area we love. The last time we took the Southern Scenic Route see https://www.newzealand.com/int/featu...nic-itinerary/ for details. It is along way but there is a lot to see along the way.
crellston is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 8th, 2018, 07:45 AM
  #28
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 437
Glenorchy looks perfect for us! I'm definitely going to fit that in.
Looks like I need to rethink this whole itinerary. I can't thank you enough for your guidance. I'm going to play around with it tomorrow and see what I can come up with. I haven't even decided on a campervan company because I want to nail down an itinerary first. Once I know if I want to change the itinerary to one-way, I'll start checking on that.
I'm beginning to think Queenstown may not be for us. I know everyone says the setting is beautiful and there are a lot of great tracks there, but isn't that true of almost all of south island? What really does it for us is remote, uncrowded beautiful locations. We live in Chicago so wildlife is a big thrill for us too. I don't have a problem paying to be part of a tour if it increases our chances of seeing wildlife. Sounds like it's money for a much-needed cause.
The only reason I was considering Te Anau is as a base to visit Milford Sound. Is there a better way to do that?
Time to do more homework. Thanks again!
blackmons is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 8th, 2018, 08:43 AM
  #29
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,585
Te Anau makes a good base for exploring Milford as it cuts the drive time down from four hours (from Queentown) to ~two.

There are a few places to camp between Te Anau and Milford. Knobs Flat is one of them - we stayed at Knobs Flat one year because it put us closer to the walks on Milford Road. It was sandfly central though.

MIlford Sound Lodge also has campsites - and there are others - so it just depends on how close you want to be.

Keep in mind that Milford Road is more spectacular than the actual sounds - to me anyway. There are several tracks accessible from Milford Road, whereas there's nothing to do in Milford other than take a cruise and have a coffee.
Melnq8 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 8th, 2018, 10:01 AM
  #30
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,233
I love that sandfly nuisance map but they really need a fourth level..dark red for blood!
mlgb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 8th, 2018, 04:31 PM
  #31
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,690
Te Anau is a good place because risk of sandfly encounters are minimal (as compared to Milford Road). Plus, as it is a small town/large village, it has convenience of restaurants (I like Redcliff Restaurant), a good pie shop (meat pies are a NZ staple), shops, and a large Fresh Choice supermarket (though of the large NZ grocery chains, this is my least favorite). It has I-Site Visitor Centre and a Dept. of Conservation Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre, should you need advice or maps. In early March, the sun will rise a little after 7 a.m. and set at around 8:30 p.m., so you'd have plenty of time for taking a walk along its pretty lakefront. From the center of town, it's a short pleasant walk to the Dept. of Conservation-run Te Anau Bird Sanctuary, where you can watch native birds in captivity. Generally, these are birds who are in captive breeding programs or cannot be released into the wild or will soon be released into the wild (so don't feel bad that they're in enclosures). Te Anau is also convenient for doing a day walk on part of the Kepler Track. And, of course, it'll be convenient for your Glow Worm Tour as the Real Journeys dock in right in the heart of town.

The drive from Te Anau to Curio Bay in the Catlins would take around 3 hours.

In describing Catlins attractions, I forget to mention the waterfalls. They're small but photogenic and to get to them, you'll walk through native forests. The one closest to Curio Bay is McLean Falls. I also neglected to mention one of my very favorite Catlins spots/walks: Cathedral Caves! These sea caves are only accessible from late October to May during daylight hours 1.5 hours before low tide until an hour after low tide. They're on private land and reached by a privately maintained road, so there is a small parking/admission fee. In summer, these places get really busy. If you end up spending two nights in the Catlins, I'd also recommend a stop at Surat Bay (sea lions) Please stay 10 metres back from sleeping sea lions. If they're on the move, stay even farther back; they're on the beach to rest after a long hard day of fishing. Please have a look at these tips for viewing sea lions: https://sealiontrust.org.nz/top-tips...on-encounters/

As I mentioned before Curio Bay is adjacent to Porpoise Bay, a gorgeous, long sweep of beach that's popular with surfers. In late February-early March, you should be able to see some Hector's Dolphins surfing its waves. These are NZ's own native dolphin, the smallest and rarest dolphin in the world (which you can also see on the Black Cat cruises out of Akaroa). If you don't see them in the morning, try looking for them again later in the day. They come and go.

Last edited by Diamantina; Jul 8th, 2018 at 04:56 PM.
Diamantina is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 9th, 2018, 11:04 AM
  #32
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 437
Before I get too much into the nitty gritty, I just want to make sure I'm on the right track. Is this the order I should be traveling? Am I correct that the reason you've suggested I travel South first is it will increase our likelihood of seeing penguins in late February? Otherwise I have read that it's more scenic to go counterclockwise. Once I get your approval, I'll start designating amount of days and activities in each location. And then the campervan hunt begins! Thanks!

Chch
Lake Tekapo
Mt Cook
Dunedin (Elm Wildlife Tour), Moeraki
Te Anau
Milford Sound
Glenorchy
Wanaka
Okarito
Holitika
Arthur’s Pass
Return to ChCh
blackmons is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 9th, 2018, 12:12 PM
  #33
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,233
Have you looked at which routes you will take between places? I am getting a feeling you may be picking some of the less scenic ones in an effort to squeeze a lot of things in a short time

eg going from Dunedin to Te Anau without seeing the Catlins is a big mistake IMO.

If you want to hurry down south for Penguins, another option is to fly into Dunedin from Auckland, and do the Elm Wildlife tour from there. They pick you up so no need for a campervan that first day.

EG

AKL-DUD
DUD 2 nights (for Wildlife Touring to Otago Peninsula)
CATLINs 1 or 2 night (Southern Scenic Route) .... NOT the inland Balclutha, etc. route
TE ANAU prior to MILFORD SOUND DAY TRIP; return to
QUEENSTOWN/GLENORCHY/KINLOCH/WANAKA AREA (all very close together) at least 2 nights, 3 is better.
Queenstown to Mt. Cook (Glentanner), float or walk to see glaciers. (they used to also do overflights, not sure that I'd count on any of that)..
Mt. Cook to before Arthur's pass (eg Darfiield or Methven)..nicer route than the coast. Can also be a bit sandflyish along some of the streams around here...or continue to AP itself...
Day at AP park, go to the overlook, play with the Kea, and do a waterfall walk,

Return to Chch with a stop at Castle Hill.

Note that I don't have you doing the entire west coast drive...you'll have a taste of sandflies around Te Anau, and if you insist on staying there for the boat ride to the glowworms, there is not much reason to go to Hokitika. The west coast weather is so difficult to predict and the glaciers have shrunk, so I'm not sure I'd bother with them. You can also see glaciers in Mt. Cook if you do the Hooker Valley track.

Last edited by mlgb; Jul 9th, 2018 at 12:24 PM.
mlgb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 9th, 2018, 02:00 PM
  #34
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 437
Thanks, mlgb. A quick google search doesn't show any campervan rental agencies in Dunedin with the type of camper we're looking for so unfortunately, while a very good suggestion, I don't think that will work. And as you point out, I definitely don't want to sacrifice scenic drives. That's actually priority number 1. I also don't want to spend all our time driving either and would like to break it up with some restful days or we'll be a mess by the end of the trip (I have learned from past experience.) I also wanted to fit in as much wildlife as possible so the trip isn't all about scenery. I guess I want everything! Sigh.....So it looks like something is going to have to give. We have no interest in glaciers and would like to avoid sandflies as much as possible. We were only stopping in Holitika to break up the drive. Te Anau is only to break up the drive to Milford Sound. We possibly could do one way from Christchurch to Queenstown, but that probably means choosing between the west coast and Dunedin. I'll be back.....
blackmons is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 9th, 2018, 02:10 PM
  #35
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,233
Kia Ora Campers Motorhomes, New Zealand ?

It's always an issue with NZ..too many things to see, too little time.

You could always just drive a regular vehicle between Dunedin and Queenstown if that is the only issue. And yes, I would just do one way (either north to south, or vice versa).

I would skip the west coast if you aren't into glaciers. You can still see Milford Sound which is an out and back from Queenstown or Wanaka.

The drive from Queenstown to Mt. Cook is a beautiful one.

You might even think about doing a round trip from Queenstown and not even go to Christchurch, especially if Akaroa and Kaikoura are now off the menu?

Last edited by mlgb; Jul 9th, 2018 at 02:14 PM.
mlgb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 9th, 2018, 04:39 PM
  #36
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,690
I agree with the others, try to include the Catlins. Are your flight plans fixed? Can you add a few days onto your trip?

Keeping in mind that you'll be in a campervan and can move around, being able to spend the morning in one place then move on to spend the night in another, here's a suggestion below. You will be on the move. Crellston might be able to suggest campsites along the way.

1 CC explore on foot (Botanic Garden, Canterbury Museum, Public Art Gallery, Transitional Cardboard Cathedral, etc.)

2 Pick up campervan, then scenic drive to Aoraki Mt. Cook or Lake Tekapo (if you want to do stargazing, though these tours are offered in Aoraki Mt. Cook as well). I'd strongly suggest moving on to Aoraki Mt. Cook so you'll have more time there.

3 Morning in Aoraki Mt. Cook day walk, then late afternoon drive to Oamaru so you can do the evening Little Blue Penguin Tour (if you think you can still see Little Blue Penguins at the end of February-- email them to find out), Oamaru also has a beautifully preserved Victorian Precinct, an interesting Steampunk HQ (gallery) and a YEP viewing hide at its Bushy Beach/Cape Wanbrow Reserve (though check with Oamaru's I-Site before going there, it's less than a 10 minute drive from the center of .Oamaru.

4 Leave Oamaru early so you can stop at places enroute to Dunedin (stay at St. Kilda Beach or in Portobello on the Otago Peninsula) I think the Elm Tour will pick you up at 3 p.m. Bring a snack and water, warm clothes for later.

5 Morning explore Otago Peninsula (walk on Allans Beach or Sandfly Bay on Sandymount Track to Lover's Leap--but only do one of these), take a break, then drive late afternoon to Kaka Point in the Catlins, spend the night here. Take the Southern Scenic Route. If you have time, walk the Tunnel Beach Track before leaving Dunedin; it's on the SSR.

6 Get up early to see sunrise from Nugget Point Lighthouse (it's adjacent to Kaka Point). Explore Catlins enroute to Porpoise/Curio Bay, spend night in Porpoise/Curio Bay, so you can see YEPs (hoiho) swim ashore late afternoon

7 Drive to Te Anau
8 Te Anau (day trip to Milford Road and Sound)
9 Drive to Glenorchy
10 Glenorchy
11 Wanaka
12 Wanaka
13 Fox
14 Punakaiki or Hokitika
15 Drive via Arthur's Pass to Christchurch
16 Depart NZ

No matter how pleasant and warm it is during the day, bring warm clothes (fleece, gloves, waterproof jacket, etc.) for afternoon wildlife viewing. When the sun goes down, the temperature will drop sharply. At any time of day, prepare for wind. The wind chill factor can make a sunny day feel bone-chilling (we get southerly winds, that blow up from the direction of Antarctica). NZ's weather is highly unpredictable. You can get four seasons in a day, even in late February/early March (though generally, the weather is nice at this time of year).

Please take care driving on our narrow, winding roads. Even if you're great drivers, you're coming at a busy time of year and there are disappointingly many drivers who are not so experienced or attentive, some are driving while jetlagged. You have to watch out for them.

mlgb, I also thought of that option of flying into Dunedin first and looked into campervan rentals, which I'm not very familiar with. I found Maui has outlets in CC & Queenstown, Britz In CC & Queenstown. Only Jucy has an outlet at Dunedin Airport, and they only have the small campervans.

Last edited by Diamantina; Jul 9th, 2018 at 05:18 PM.
Diamantina is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 9th, 2018, 06:23 PM
  #37
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,690
Now I see that you're actually returning to the U.S. on the 17th day of your trip! So my above suggestion allows for an extra day somewhere!

Here's another 16-day suggestion.
One way rental, pick up Queenstown, drop off Christchurch
Feb 22 Queenstown (take the gondola, walk around the Botanic Garden and lakeside track, take the local bus to Arrowtown, etc., have a nice dinner, get a good night's sleep)
Feb 23 Pick up campervan, drive to Glenorchy (only 45 minute drive from Q'town so you'll have an entire day in Glenorchy)
Feb 24 Drive 4 hours to Aoraki Mt. Cook (via Lindis Pass)
Feb 25 Aoraki Mt. Cook
Feb 26 Drive 4.5 hours to Portobello, Otago Peninsula (Blue Penguins Pukekura at night)
Feb 27 Morning to explore Otago Peninsula (Elm Wildlife Tour starts at 3, tour will pick you up from Portobello).
Feb 28 Catlins (north)
March 1 Catlins (south)
Mar 2 Te Anau
Mar 3 Te Anau (Milford Sound)
Mar 4 Wanaka
Mar 5 Wanaka
Mar 6 Fox or Franz Josef
Mar 7 Punakaiki (visit Hokitika Gorge enroute)
Mar 8 Christchurch
Mar 9 Extra day to play with (you don't have to spend it here)
Mar 10 Depart for U.S.

Last edited by Diamantina; Jul 9th, 2018 at 06:43 PM.
Diamantina is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 9th, 2018, 07:12 PM
  #38
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 437
These itineraries are fantastic. Thank you SO much. I can't get over how generous you all are with your time and knowledge! I wish there was a way to pay you all back. My eyes are going blurry at this point, but I'll be back at it tomorrow.
Have a good night (or day for some of you!)
Laurie
blackmons is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 9th, 2018, 10:44 PM
  #39
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,048
"Crellston might be able to suggest campsites along the way." and here is a extract from my spreadsheet- sorry about the formatting. All of these can be found on Campable or Rankers apps. The exception being those marked wildernests which are from the Wilderness book of "special"sites they provide. I am sure I can fiind more details of those sites if required.

Waihi Gorge Nr Geraldine DOC site
All Day Bay Beach nr Oamaru Freedom / Wildernesst
Nr Ranfurly Otago Rail Trail Route Freedom domaine
St Barthans Blue Lake /gold rush town Freedom domaine
Pinders Pond Nr Roxburgh DOC
Pounawea Kiwi campsite
Weir Beach Wildernesst
Monowai Lakeside DOC
Queenstown CP Layby Rotary Club Wildernesst
Paradise Nr Glenorchy Freedom
25 mile creek Lakeside between Glenorchy-Queenstown Wildernesst
Wanaka - Kiwi $42.70"
Diamond Lake Nr Wanaka DOC
Haast Pass (Road closure ) Freedom
Lake Paringa - Lake side DOC
Little Whanganui Bay Nr Karamea Wildernesst
Kahurangi NP Start of Heaphy Track DOC $16
Nelson Kiwi $34"
Golden Bay Next to inlet Wildernesst & Boat Club
Scenic reserve CP Nr Takaka Freedom
Abel Tasman TotanaruiDOC $26
Motueka Beach reserve Freedom

Queen Charlotte Drive Freedom
Picton Kiwi

We were travelling in Aug-October and so had no issues finding space at any of the sites, in some, we were the only ones there. I imagine the situation would be radically different in March and that wou would have to book. With one or two exceptions, it is not possible to book DOC sites, so, if you wanted to use those it would be on a first come basis meaning get there early.
crellston is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 10th, 2018, 07:24 PM
  #40
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 437
Thanks, Crellston! I'll be matching those up with my itinerary soon!
Laurie
blackmons is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:55 AM.