NZ Driving route suggestions???

Nov 1st, 2003, 09:51 PM
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NZ Driving route suggestions???

We're going to NZ next week (south island, with only one day in auckland). We'll have about 9 days in South Island. I feel like there's so much to do and we have very little time! Everyone talks about the in between beauty - and I want to make sure I don't miss that by taking a wrong driving route. Is that mainly on the west coast. Is that how we should get to queenstown and skip the east side if we have limited days.
foomoo is offline  
Nov 1st, 2003, 10:05 PM
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We had 2 weeks in New Zealand and spent most of it on the South Island. We took the ferry over and then drove down the west coast - a fabulous drive. We drove all the way around to Dunedin - we loved that area - and then to Christchurch. We went to Queenstown for a night but looking back I would skip it. It is a nice town but I would have liked another day on a glacier or in the fiords.
cartera45 is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2003, 01:04 PM
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Thanks so much for sharing. We're thinking of flying into Christchurch and then driving to Dunedin on 1. And then heading to Te Anau (for Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound) - one night in Queenstown - and then driving up on the west coast to Nelson (and flying back to Auckland from there).
Questions regarding drive from Christchurch to Dunedin:
- Are there any towns on in between Christchurch and Dunedin that you recommend spending the night?
- If we drive straight through between CHC and Dundedin (stopping for short breaks) - how long would the drive be? Do you recommend that?
- Would you recommed spending a night in Dunedin itself or other surrounding areas. Any lodge/ b&b that you liked?
foomoo is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2003, 05:36 PM
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The drive from Christchurch to Dunedin is 362 km, and takes about 5 hours with no stops.

It's not a particularly pretty drive, mostly flat, with some rolling hills, but nowhere near the scenery you'd find along the West Coast or in the interior.

If you choose to do this, you might want to consider stopping in Omaru long enough to view the penguins (best seen at dusk).

Better yet, you might want to fly into Dunedin instead of Christchurch, thereby saving a day.

You can then spend a day or so in Dunedin, before heading up to Te Anau and then up the West Coast.

We've stayed at the Albatross Inn and the Levathan Hotel in Dunedin. Both were fine, but I'd suggest requesting a quiet room in the back at both locations.

Melnq8 is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2003, 08:52 PM
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It seems like I should probably forget going to Dunedin. I'm not that keen on seeing the Penguins. I'm going to drive from CHC to Lake Tekapo and Mt Cook. Have you been there? I hear that tourist buses stop there for like 5 minutes Also, do you know anything about Nelson region - Abel Tasman - I wonder if it's worth going all the way up there?
foomoo is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2003, 09:34 PM
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If you only have a short while, it seems like the best thing to do is a loop, starting in Christchurch, over Arthur's Pass to Greymouth; then down the coast to Te Anau. Return to Christchurch via Queenstown and Mt. Cook. In 9 days, you will not feel rushed along this route, as you stop to see the glaciers, take a boat trip in Fiordland, do an adventure or two in Queenstown/Wanaka, a nice hike at Mt. Cook, and some time exploring Christchurch.

Other fun things to do along this loop: detour north of Greymouth to Punakaiki and Paparoa National Park (home of the famous Pancake Rocks); rent a canoe and take an early-morning paddle on Okarito Lagoon to see wildlife; take a guided walk up onto Franz Josef or Fox Glacier; take a raft trip from Lake Wanaka down the Clutha River; take an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound; drive to the town of Milford, stopping on the other side of the Homer Tunnel for a short hike to The Chasm; take the Skyline Gondola up from Queenstown for spectacular views of the surrounding country; drive up the Hooker Valley at Mt. Cook and walk around the glacier topography; if time permits, take a side trip up to Kaikoura and go on a whale-watching trip.
ALF is offline  
Nov 4th, 2003, 12:12 AM
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I agree with Alf - his (?) itinerary will enable you hit the highlights and see the areas you seem most interested in. I'm not a fan of Christchurch, but it is the most logical starting point
for a circuit of the South Island. If you're not into cities, I'd suggest you just pass through CH and give yourself more time for the spectacular sights of the island.

If it's in your budget, I'd highly recommend a helihike on one of the glaciers - of course, as with most NZ activities, you're at the mercy of the weather.

I've been to all the places you mention - Mt Cook, Lake Tekapo, Nelson, Abel Tasman, etc.

As far as the tourist buses in Mt. Cook, we counted nine huge busloads of tourists as we sat in the bar having a drink - this in a 1-1/2 hour period and during early September - off season!

Several of the buses stopped long enough for lunch and a few photos, then moved on.

Lake Tekapo is similar - the buses stop long enough to let the tourists have a bathroom break and take a photo of the Church of the Good Shepard and the lake before moving on.

Incidentally, we spent three nights in Lake Tekapo and found plenty to do (lots of walks/hikes).

Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park are definitely worth a visit, as are the Marlborough Sounds, Picton, Ruby Bay, Collingwood, Takaka, etc. Unfortunately, you just don't have enough time to do it all.

I'd suggest limiting yourself so you're not rushed - perhaps you'll make it back for a second visit someday!

Melnq8 is offline  
Nov 5th, 2003, 07:48 AM
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I've just started researching a possible trip. This site has driving route suggestions and milage. It looks to be very useful:
elberko is offline  
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