NZ south island itenary help

Mar 21st, 2008, 02:13 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 17
NZ south island itenary help

Hey need help here in planning my itenary for south island nz.We have 8 days out of the list below which are must dos
1]mount cook,lake tekapo,lake pukaki
2]fox glacier,fran joseph,tranz alpine
4] swim with dolphins at akaroa
5]dunedin omarama
6]abel tasman and nelson area
shalu is offline  
Mar 21st, 2008, 03:19 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,758
Hi shalu -

Your wish list is very ambitious for 8 days. You're covering the far north and far south of the island, and you won't have much time to actually spend IN the places you've listed, let alone participate in activites.

I strongly suggest you limit yourself to either the north or south of the SI - driving distances are much longer than they appear on a map and many roads in NZ are narrow and winding, so it takes more time to get from point to point than one might expect.

As an example, we just finished a 15 day stay on the SI - we put close to 3,000 kms on our rental car and we only visited the southern part of the South Island.

As far as must dos - that's really a personal preference. What many people consider must do's others don't - for example, I've been to Dunedin several times and have no idea what all the fuss is about and often wonder why first time visitors seem so determined to fit it into their schedules. But, that's me.

If I were to list what most first time visitors try to see, I'd have to say Milford Sound, Queenstown, the West Coast and glaciers and Mt Cook, Lake Tekapo.

Assuming you arrive in CHC, you might consider taking the Tranzapline to Greymouth, rent a car there, make the 45 minute detour north to Pancake Rocks (Punakaki) then head south down the west coast. This way you can see the glaciers and work your way toward Queenstown and Milford Sound.

You can then return via Mt Cook, Lake Tekepo and Lake Pukaki.

The day before yesterday I did just this - I drove from Queenstown, made stops at Omarama Cliffs, made the 55 km (one way) detour to Mt Cook, drove by Lake Tekapo (didn't stop - been there many times before) then ended in CHC. This was a very long day - we left QT at 10 am and didn't arrive in CHC until about 7:30 pm.

I wouldn't suggest doing this, unless you plan to stop someover along the way overnight or just enjoy long drive days.

I suggest you take a look at a map and a travel distance calculator to help get you started. I also suggest you cut down your wish list, but do it based on what interests you, not what others consider must sees.

Good luck with your planning. You'll find lots of help here as more questions arise.
Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2008, 01:56 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 17
Hey melnq8 ty for your suggestions. we are flying to queenstown and flying back from christchurch.if i start from queenstown do milford sound then head to fox franz then tranz alpine reach christchurch.. how do i do mount cook and lake tekapo ,lake pukaki if my flight is from christchurch? i would love to do it but stuck since my tickets are booked.can u help me put up an itenary?
shalu is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2008, 08:27 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 18,309
You simply can't do that all in 8 days unless you never stop driving. That's a 2 week itinerary minimum.

If you don't have a map of NZ, you can look on or

There's a big chain of mountains (the Southern Alps) down the middle of the South Island. Most who would want to see what you are trying to do would do a big loop from Christchurch, over Arthurs Pass, down the west coast to see glaciers to Queenstown, and back up the east side of the alps to see Mt. Cook. If you had more time you would extend your trip out of Queenstown to Dunedin. Milford Sound can be done in a day trip from Queenstown. It isn't on the way to anything else.

I think you'll need to drop off at least two items from your list for this trip.

mlgb is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2008, 10:34 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,758
Shalu -

As mentioned by mlgb, Milford Sound can been done as a day trip from QT, but it's a heck of a long one. The drive from Queenstown to Milford is four hours ONE WAY.

We just returned from two weeks on the SI and spent four nights in Te Anau, and could have easily spent another four. Loads to do if you like the outdoors and walking. From Te Anau, it's about a 90 minute drive to Milford, longer with stops, and yes, there are many reasons to stop.

Suggest you drop Mt Cook/Tekapo and concentrate on Queenstown, Milford Sound (possibly from Te Anau) and then work your way up the West Coast and on to Christchurch.

Where are you arriving in Queenstown from? How many nights do you have to work with? What are you most interested in?

Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 24th, 2008, 12:44 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 17
Hi melnq8
we are flying from sydney to queenstown on 31st may although we reach by lunch not planning anythinmg for that day .i have made an itenary please let me know if this is okay or if u can guide me.
1st june milford sound fly/cruise/fly
2nd june queenstown activities sky diving,skyline gondola bungy jumping,gleonarchy dart river etc.
3rd june go to fox and franz do a heli over the glacier .
4th tranzalpine train to christchurch.
5th june swim with dolphins and seal colony at kaikora
6th june what should i do? any suggestions?
7th june morning christchurch tour half day flight is in the evening.
shalu is offline  
Mar 24th, 2008, 09:39 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I assume fly/cruise/fly means you fly from QT to Milford Sound, take a cruise, then fly back???

Regarding June 2 - Dart River Safari is a 1/2 day activity - Glenorchy is a 40 minute drive from QT (where Dart River trips commence). This should leave 1/2 day in QT for your other activities but it will get dark early, as it's winter. Also, weather could be a factor.

June 3 - The drive from QT to the glaciers is 6-7 hours. That doesn't leave much time to do much once you get there. Lots of scenic stops along the way. Doubt this is feasible. Flights are often cancelled in the winter due to poor weather, fog, etc and it could be dark by the time you get there. Suggest you check winter daylight hours.

June 4 - the tranzalpine train leaves from Greymouth, so you'll need to drive there from the glaciers to catch the train. Last time I checked it left Greymouth early afternoon. This shouldn't be a problem.

June 5 -

Not feasible. Kaikoura is a two hour drive in one direction, Akaroa is a 90 minute drive in a different direction. Those are ONE way drive times. Swimming in June? Don't know about that, but suggest you check with the tour operator directly.

Do I understand this correctly? Three nights QT, one night glaciers, three nights CHC?
Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 24th, 2008, 11:46 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,092
I agree with Melnq8 - swimming in NZ in June??? June is the month for skiing the alps, not swimming.
the water temperature in the south island even in summer, is still cold.
tropo is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 07:01 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 66
If I only had 8 days in NZ, (which is a crying shame by the way I would only visit Queenstown and Te Anau. It is a mistake to short change Doubtful, Milford and Dusky Sounds by taking a day trip from Queenstown. There are a ton of things to do up there. To name a few, you can kayak Milford Sound (an awesome experience), take a float plane over Dusky Sound, hike part of the Milford trail, take the over night cruise to Doubful Sound.
You can get most of the thrill attractions in Queenstown (not to mention great food and wineries if that interests you). You can also take a day trip to the glaciers via plane if the weather (and your budget) permits. Just plan to come back! I have spent about 12 weeks there, and we still haven't seen everything, not by a long shot. Melnq's initial proposal is also a really good one. Cheers!
wannabakiwi is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 08:08 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 17
Hi ,wannaba kiwi,
Ty for your suggestions ,I am so happy with my australia itenary i think its perfect 3 days in melborne,4 days in sydney,4 days in cairns,1 day ayers rock.While booking my tickets i thought since i am visiting only south island 8 days will be enough ,now after reading all reviews and forums i am so confused with short of time and so much to see i know i cant see it all .I am flying from sydney to queenstown and my return ticket is from christchurch.I am considering atleast 2 scenic flights to save time in nz.any other ideas or suggestions are welcome. My first forum when i asked out of 6 what are the must dos ? people took it wrongly i surely was not going to do all of the above in 8 days i needed advise as to what can be missed and what is a must see.
shalu is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 10:37 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 66
Shalu~ Ok, since you seem to be struggling a bit, I will at least try to eliminate a few places from your list. You can see from my earlier post what we would do. Please remember, this is just me. We love the outdoors, great food, high adventures and nice wine, staying when possible in B and B's.

I have been to all of these places, and while they are great, with only 8 days, you have to get some lightening focus. IMHO, I would remove Christchurch (just use to depart) and Dunedin (agree with Melnq8 on this.) When you eliminate Christchurch, you will naturally eliminate Akaroa. There are lots of places in the world where you can see dolphins, and this time year as the others point out is too cold! The north end of the South Island (Nelson, Able Tasman) are incredible, but just too far to do it any justice. I loved the remoteness and raw beauty of the West Coast, but towns like Hokitika and Greymouth seemed a bit economically depressed. I always get hammered for saying this, because I am most likely wrong, but I was not hugely impressed with the glaciers. Many people have pointed out to us that we did not take the right approach to seeing them, so next time we go, we will most likely try again. Hope this helps
wannabakiwi is offline  
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