NZ with elderly mom - itinerary help please!

Mar 13th, 2015, 12:20 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 6
NZ with elderly mom - itinerary help please!

Mom is 76 and her lifelong dream was to visit NZ, so hubby and I are taking her next Feb. BUT we only have 2 weeks off work and I'm realizing how much there is to see! We have already limited ourselves to Wellington + South Island and I took Ulva Island off my list (sad) because I figured it would need 3 days. Still, our current plan seems like a LOT of driving and I'm concerned we'll tire out Mom (and ourselves). Some of the other itineraries posted here just seem like a crazy amount of driving to me - I guess we are lazy on holiday! Our usual trips are hiking with no driving at all so that is where I am starting from! Appreciate any suggestions (especially anything to take off the list). Hubby loves wine, I love wildlife, Mom needs to visit Oamaru and friends in Christchurch. We thought about taking train from Picton to Christchurch, but the arrival/departure times in Kaikoura don't fit well with the wildlife activities which are best early morning (we would have to add an extra day in Kaikoura if we go by train) - but still open to this option to reduce driving hours. I was totally inspired by the 70th birthday couple currently on the Milford Track, however Mom is not that kind (never camped nor hiked even when she was 20, not keen to start now). Appreciate any and all advice!!


1. arrive Wellington, rest, evening Zealandia tour (2 nts Wellington)

2. day trip (Kakiri island? is it worth the trouble?)

3. ferry to Picton, pick up rental car, drive to Blenheim (2 nts Blenheim)

4. winery tours to Kaikoura, whale watch (1 nt Kaikoura)

6. swim with dolphins. Drive to Christchurch. Dinner with friends (1 nt Christchurch)

7. drive to Oamaru, see penguins (2 nts Oamaru)

8. Oamaru

9. drive to Cromwell, winery tours (1 nt Cromwell)

10. drive to Queenstown, drop car; bus to Te Anu (1 nt)

11. bus to Milford sound, lake cruise, overnt (1 nt boat)

12. fly to Queenstown (2 nts Queenstown)

13. extra day in Queenstown, jetboat or river raft

14. fly home
JToronto1 is offline  
Mar 13th, 2015, 03:27 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,912
I think you mean Kapiti Island - I haven't been to the island, but we did drive along the coast - let's just say that I wasn't gobsmacked, although I freely admit we might have missed something. Kapiti ice cream is not to be missed though

You might enjoy Te Papa in Wellington, but you can easily spend 1/2 a day there - lots to see.

With only two nights in Wellie, I suggest you give Kapiti a pass and just spend your time in the city - you won't even need a car.

I'm no where near 76, but I got tired just reading your itinerary. You have five one night stays, which can be
exhausting. The only place in your itinerary that I think a one night stay is warranted is Oamaru, although you do mention this is high on your Mom's list, so then again maybe not.

Why not drive to Te Anau? You can leave your car with your accommodation in Te Anau while on your overnight at Milford and then you'll have it for your time in Queenstown.

For that matter why not drive to Milford? Unless you're just more comfortable taking the bus, taking your own car will give you a heck of a lot more flexibility - you can explore areas of the Milford Road that you won't see if you take the bus.
Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 15th, 2015, 12:39 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,380
you don't say why you are going to Oamaru, but i think that there is more than enough there to fill a whole day, what with the Opera House, the Botanical gardens, the Victorian building generally, the penguins, and, if you don't mind a little drive, a half day trip to Moeraki [just to the south] to see the Boulders on the beach. i can thoroughly recommend an italian restaurant there too - they don't seem to have a website so here's the link to their FB page:

[if your mum likes gardens, you should also look out for the old-fashioned rose garden at Timaru south of C/Church - nice for a stretch of the legs and a coffee/lunch/tea stop.]

Personally I would drop the one night in Cromwell - it's a long drive from Oamaru to QT but once you are there there's lots to do and IMO you will feel more rested that way, even if you have to back track a bit to see the wineries in Cromwell.
annhig is offline  
Mar 18th, 2015, 09:26 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 6
thanks for the suggestions. Oamaru is where my mom had a pen pal when she was a young girl and it's her main focus in all of NZ. So we didn't want the time there to be rushed. I realize most people might spend just one night, but it does sound like a cool town with lots to do.

We put in Kapiti island as a substitute for Ulva (birding) but perhaps we'll take it out and do something closer in to town instead.

yes of course we could just drive everywhere but it just feels like HOURS and HOURS of driving every day. Perhaps there is just no way to avoid it when visiting New Zealand, but it makes me tired to think of it too. We were looking for any way to shorten the drives and flying to Milford seemed like one good option.

Appreciate any other suggestions. I suppose we could fly into Christchurch and just skip Wellington, Blenheim and Kaikoura but both the Marlborough wine region and the whale watching are likely to be highlights for my husband and me.
JToronto1 is offline  
Mar 18th, 2015, 01:24 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,912
I missed the bit about you flying back from Milford to QT - you're right, it's a good option and time saver.
Melnq8 is offline  

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