NZ--Should we add Abel Tasman and skip another spot?

Old Aug 14th, 2009, 03:05 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 50
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
NZ--Should we add Abel Tasman and skip another spot?

Hello again. Pretty well finished with the Oz part of our journey, so now working on (again) NZ for early-mid Nov. I already have a pretty good idea of an itinerary thanks to all of you who have helped but a friend here in the states said we shouldn't miss Abel Tasman. That would change the first part of the trip which is currently arriving Christchurch 1 night, on to Punakaiki 1 night, on to a glacier. This friend says the Pancake Rocks are very similar to our north-west coast shoreline in Washington state and Abel Tasman very different and spectacular. I am hesitant to change because I have seen so many good comments about Punakaiki area.
Any thoughts? Or could skip the glacier night, or.....
lynniewinnie is offline  
Old Aug 14th, 2009, 03:37 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,191
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
That's a hard call lynniewinnie. Adding Abel Tasman is going to take more time, as the drive from Christchurch to Abel Tasman is about 423 km, close to six hours. Then you'd want at the very least a full day in the area to walk, kayak, etc, as you really need to get into the park to fully appreciate it. You could then drive Abel Tasman to Punakaiki (about 254 km, 3.5 hours, spend a few hours there, and then continue driving to Franz Josef (221 km about 3:25 hours). That way you'd see it all, but wouldn't be able to spend a night in Punakaiki.

It's all good.
Melnq8 is online now  
Old Aug 14th, 2009, 06:40 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 19,045
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I don't really understand the oohing and aahing over Punaikaki, myself. I would sub in Abel Tasman. Especially that time of year.
mlgb is offline  
Old Aug 19th, 2009, 01:39 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 50
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
In our original plan of CHC to Punakaiki I was advised that the drive would take 5 1/2 hrs. It sounds like Abel Tasman is not much longer of a drive. Our flight arrives CHC 3:15 pm. What about staying in Kaikoura that night instead of CHC? That means no time to explore CHC although most comments I have seen are that CHC is not a highlight of SI.
lynniewinnie is offline  
Old Aug 19th, 2009, 05:25 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,191
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
According to this distance calculator -

http://www.aatravel.co.nz/main/td-calculator.php

- its 302 km (4:20) from Christchurch to Punakaiki. I assume that time is based on the most direct path and it does allow for stops.

The drive from Christchurch to Abel Tasman (actually Motueka, which is about 15-20 minutes from Marahau, the gateway to Abel Tasman) is 423 km, about six hours, so more like 6:15 with the drive to Marahau, assuming that's where you plan to stay.

Of course these are estimates, and it really comes down to how often/how long you stop for photos, etc along the way.

The issue isn't so much the difference in drive time between the two as the increase in drive time from Abel Tasman to the glaciers, about 7 hours from Abel Tasman, vs 3:25 from Punakaiki. And you'd need at least a full day in Abel Tasman to see it - it's not a drive in drive out kind of place.

First time visitors usually make Punakaiki a side trip, and don't stay overnight. We didn't stay there until our 8th visit (three nights) and we did it so that we could hike. There are some nice hikes in the area, but the Pancake Rocks themselves only take about 30-45 minutes to see, so you could certainly do it on your way down the West Coast from Abel Tasman.

Kaikoura is about a 90 minute drive from Christchurch. When we visit the SI, we like to leave Christchurch immediately, drive 1-3 hours and stay overnight on the way to our first destination. We usually arrive earlier in the day than you will though.

I guess my question is are you planning to spend at least a full day in Abel Tasman, or just arrive there late, spend the night, and move on? If it's the latter, it doesn't make any sense.
Melnq8 is online now  
Old Aug 19th, 2009, 06:13 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 50
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
If we decide to do Abel Tasman we will stay 1 or 2 nights and I am leaning in that direction. If we stay 2 nights I need to "steal" a night from either Wanaka or Te Anau.....(your thoughts). Then, I was looking at the map to see if there was somewhere more north from the glaciers to stay to cut down the driving time from Abel Tas and so far Whataroa looks the best, which appears to save app 30 min. And hiking(tramping!) is one of our favorites.
Back to Kaikoura---we wouldn't have time to do a whale watch or other tour but still sounded like a nice place and not too far from CHC. Any other suggestions?
lynniewinnie is offline  
Old Aug 19th, 2009, 07:37 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,191
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Okay. How many nights do you have allocated for Wanaka and Te Anau?

Maybe you could post your whole itinerary here - easier to follow that way.

Whataroa near Okarito? If you're driving that far, you might as well continue to the glacers, as it's not that much further to Franz Josef. Not to mention, there's not much there. I'm not sure I follow how Whataroa saves you 30 minutes.

Other options between Abel Tasman and the glaciers are Westport, Punakaiki, Greymouth and Hokitika. Given these choices, I'd personally choose Westport or Punakaiki. Although, if it means cutting a night from Te Anau or Wanaka, I'd probably just drive straight through to the glaciers instead.

Regarding Kaikoura...I sort of feel about Kaikoura the way mlgb feels about Punakaiki. I've been through it many times, but I've never felt the need to stay there. Having said that, I wouldn't mind a couple of nights there to give me time to check out the hikes, because it's an area I've not yet explored in depth.

If you're just looking for a convenient place to stay between Christchurch and Abel Tasman though, Kaikoura would certainly be a good option.

We've stayed in Hanmer Springs several times, not because it's a must see place, but because it's a good place to break up the drive between Christchurch and towns further north.

For your purposes, I think Kaikoura would be ideal.
Melnq8 is online now  
Old Aug 20th, 2009, 09:03 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 50
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
NEW!!! Itineray: 1 night CHC (or Kaikoura)(fly into CHC), 1 or 2 nights Abel Tasman, 1 night Glacier, 1 or 2 nights Wanaka, 2 nights Queenstown, 2 or 3 nights Te Anau, 1 night Dunedin (fly out of Dunedin).
The extra night, if decided on, in Abel Tasman would come from taking 1 night away from Wanaka or Te Anau--all depending on your (anyone's) input as to which destinations should be given more tme and I realize it is all personal opinion and all good, and that I wish I had more time!! (always the case).
Yes, we would stay in Whataroa rather than Franz Josef with the purpose of seeing the glaciers the next day---Whataroa appears to be 30 min closer to Abel Tasman than Franz Josef on that long 7 hr drive.
lynniewinnie is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2009, 03:33 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,191
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Were you able to find accommodation in Whataroa?

I guess where you take that night from really depends on what you plan to do in Wanaka and Te Anau. I know some people love Wanaka, but the only reason we stayed there was to explore the hikes, many of which are an hour's drive or more outside of Wanaka in Mt Aspiring National Park. And I'd do it again to explore even more hikes, but other than the lake, the town itself doesn't do much for me, it feels like an up and coming Queenstown. But I seem to be in the minority.

Te Anau is tiny, and the main attraction is the sounds and the Milford Track. There are some wonderful hikes in the area, for which you'd need time if you plan to explore them. The town of Te Anau is tiny, much smaller than Wanaka, and unless you have a specific reason for staying on (hiking, Doubtful Sound, Milford Sound), you might find it easy to deduct a day here.

So where do you feel you need more time? Your specific plans for Wanaka and Te Anau should be the deciding factor.
Melnq8 is online now  
Old Aug 21st, 2009, 11:34 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 50
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I have not contacted any accommodations in Whataroa yet.

Our plans for Wanaka and Te Anau would be hiking and sightseeing. Another option to gain a day for Abel Tas would be taking a day away from Queenstown and staying only 1 night instead of 2.

Now to add another possibility in this itinerary--we would like to drive the southern scenic route from Te Anau to Dunedin but again we don't have the extra time to stay anywhere such as Invercargill. We could use one of those Wanaka Te Anau Queenstown nights for a night there---- or just drive straight through. Even with using 1 of the days for Abel Tasman that leaves 6 nights in the area, and the sights appear to be fairly near each other?

Not trying to make this more hectic than it already is but this is our first chance to see SI and we want to see as much as we can.
lynniewinnie is offline  
Old Aug 21st, 2009, 01:14 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 19,045
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Welcome to NZ... you have just discovered that there is too much to see and too little time.

For the amount of time you have I would not try to see both the north and south coasts. It is just too much driving. I Would drop either Abel Tasman or Dunedin/Southern Scenic.

You could give up the days in Wanaka.
mlgb is offline  
Old Aug 21st, 2009, 06:17 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,191
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Now you're really pushing it. Trying to see both the far north of the SI and the far south in so little time means spending your entire holiday in your car. You should choose one or the other and plan to come back another time. You've got what, 8 nights total to work with?

And no, the sights down south are not fairly close together.

I'll share one of my trip planning techniques with you. Make a calender for the days you'll be in NZ (I use Excel) or make a copy of a desk calendar with those big blocks you can write on.

Fill in the blocks, starting with your flight info and arrival time in NZ. Then figure out the drive distance/time to your destination that day and put that in the blocks. Also include what you want to see on that day in transit, such as if you want to stop for a hike, call in at a particular cheese shop, whatever.

An example from one of my NZ trips:

Day 1 - Arrive Christchurch 10:40 am, collect car, lunch in Christchruch, drive to Oamaru, 247 km, 3:30, dusk penguin viewing 7 pm, overnight Bella Vista Motel

Day 2 - Drive Oamaru-Catlins. Oamaru-Balcutha 195 km, 2:45 (via Dunedin), lunch Dunedin?, Balcutha-Catlins, 130 km, 1:30?, overnight Fortrose Retreat.

Day 3 - Explore South Catlins

Day 4 - Explore North Catlins

Day 5 - Drive Catlins to Te Anau, Catlins-Invercargill 60 km, Invercargill to Te Anau 152 km, 2:10, overnight The Croft

Etc....

I find that writing it all down is a huge help. I consider those days in transit as travel days, knowing full well we can only do so much on a travel day. I then allow at least a full day, usually two, in each location to explore each area.

I realize you don't have the time to allow two full days in each area, but I think you'll find that writing down the time and travel distance between places on your wish list will demonstrate what you can realistically accomplish in the time that you do have.
Melnq8 is online now  
Old Aug 22nd, 2009, 10:17 AM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 50
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
We actually have 11 days/nights. After hearing and reading both of your and others recommendations, I think I will skip Wanaka.
I have checked drive time/distances and the longest is Abel Tasman to glaciers (that's why Whataroa is in consideration--30 min shorter drive time but close enough to do glaciers next day--unless there's a better choice). The rest of the travel is 4 hours or less (according to Melnq8 last thread about this topic!)
At this point (w/o Wanaka) we have 2 or 3 days in AT, QT, and TA, and only 1 day in Kaikoura, a glacier, and Dunedin, and 1 day to spare. We fly out of Dunedin. Might not book all accommodations near the last part (a Bushranger suggestion--NZ not that busy in Nov) and see where the road takes us.
Does that sound more doable?
lynniewinnie is offline  
Old Aug 22nd, 2009, 03:49 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,191
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Yes, that's doable. You might want to add that last day to the glaciers (assuming you want to do a helihike or guided glacier hike as weather can be an issue) or Dunedin, as one night in Dunedin and a partial day won't give you much time to explore.

I'd rethink staying in Whataroa unless the white heron sanctuary or Okarito lagoon is something you're interested in. If you're only staying there to break up your trip, well, you might as well drive another 30 minutes to Franz Josef - more to see and do, more food and lodging options.

Here are a few lodging options in Whatarora though:

http://www.holidayhomes.co.nz/for-re...oast/whataroa/

Have a good trip.
Melnq8 is online now  
Old Aug 22nd, 2009, 04:37 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 19,045
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I would agree with Mel on trying to reach the glaciers if possible. Although it is not a good idea to drive the west coast after dark due to possum roadkill.

You should be okay, the exception may be the glaciers. Christchurch can get full but as that is your first night I'm sure you will book that ahead.

I do recommend at least phoning by about 5 or 6 pm if you haven't made it to your rest stop for the night. I think phoning a day or two ahead you will have a good choice.
You can also book online using wotif.com often at a good discount even a day ahead.

If you pick up an Autoclub book at the airport you should have a good resource for same day bookings. There will be listings not in the guidebooks (which tend to fill up first).
mlgb is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
bck
Australia & the Pacific
9
Apr 17th, 2018 04:39 PM
HubTraveler
Australia & the Pacific
11
Mar 14th, 2016 04:53 AM
akshay2801
Australia & the Pacific
5
Nov 6th, 2013 11:15 PM
Eyedealtarheel
Australia & the Pacific
11
May 26th, 2012 12:21 AM
tomarkot
Australia & the Pacific
8
Aug 19th, 2011 03:26 PM

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


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO