NZ South Island in July

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Jun 8th, 2011, 01:00 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Jun 2011
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NZ South Island in July

Hello:

We are fortunate in being able to add a NZ extension to our Oz trip. We plan on spending about 9 days in the South Island, spending a couple days at Franz and Fox, 3 days or so at QT, a day at Milford Sound, and a day at Aoraki/Mt Cook.

Our concern is that we are not skiiers, and many of the other activities in QT seemed to be geared toward warmer weather. Is 3 days in QT in winter for non-skiiers advisable? Are there any "must do" winter sites or activities.

By the same token, it appears that winter driving into Milford Sound may be questionable. Is it correct to assume MS should be viewed in winter time? Should we simply bus it there?

We are planning to rent a car, and have significant winter driving experience here in the New England area, but it seems like NZ winters are a bit different with avalanche threats and the like.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks in advance!
MikeBostonUSA is offline  
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Jun 8th, 2011, 02:53 PM
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If you can drive in New England I think you will be fine! If there is an avalanche threat they are going to close that road. Your biggest issue may be renting chains which are required. Someone else mentioned just renting them for the day.

I hope Melnq8 checks in as they visit in winter.
mlgb is offline  
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Jun 10th, 2011, 01:11 AM
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Mel is there now....she should check in on her return.
margo_oz is offline  
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Jun 10th, 2011, 05:51 AM
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I live in New England and also like you, my wife and I are not skiers. We've been to the South Island twice during the winter and had a great time, including our stay at Queenstown. We had no trouble getting around and didn't need the chains that were provided with our rental car. On the first trip, the road from Te Anau to Milford was closed due to avalanche risk so we took a day tour by small plane from Queenstown to Milford instead. The weather was generally crisp and clear, above freezing most of the day most places. The mountains were particularly impressive with all the snow cover.In Queenstown we went up the gondola for the great view of the city and lake, had fun on the luge near the lookout, took the Shotover Jet boat and took a drive up nearby Coronet Peak. We also watched my son do a couple of bungy jumps. The steamship Earnslaw is another possibility in Queenstown, though I'm not sure it operates in winter - took a cruise on it last November - a great time.
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Jun 10th, 2011, 09:35 PM
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Hi Mike -

Ditto what RalphR says.

We're in Franz Josef this very moment and just enjoyed the most beautiful day of hiking. It rains alot on the West Coast (and it did yesterday driving up from Wanaka), but we actually had a full day of sunshine, and in June at that.

You can easily fill three or more days in QT, even if you don't ski or hike. There are plenty of activities as well as several wineries within a relatively short drive (Cromwell has some really good ones). Arrowtown is near QT as is Glenorchy, my new favorite place in the world. It's only a 40 minute drive from QT, but worlds apart. A trampers paradise...we spent three nights there and are already talking about returning for a week. Mind you, we love to hike and are pretty good at entertaining ourselves.

Do be aware that QT can be a bit of a zoo...we've visited many times before, yet were rather shocked at how busy it was just a few days ago, during the low season (pre-ski). Parking has become a major problem and well, the place has really lost it's charm for me.

If you're open to alternatives, you might consider Wanaka, although it's also ski/hike oriented. Much quieter than QT, but still plenty to keep a person busy for several days...good hikes there too, many of which are suitable year round.

We've driven to Milford Sound during the winter a couple of times - we're from Colorado and had no issues with the road, save one year when they closed it. They do sometimes close the road early in the winter months to blast for avalaches, but they try to keep it open as much as possible.

We rented snow chains with our car for an add'l $25 - haven't needed them yet, but we're headed to Arthur's Pass tomorrow, which will be the test. There was a laughable amount of snow on Haast Pass yesterday, but really, don't fret about the roads, you have nothing to worry about being from New England.
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