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"Otago, Invercargill and Stewart Island" or "Upper SI and the West Coast" ?

"Otago, Invercargill and Stewart Island" or "Upper SI and the West Coast" ?

Old Nov 3rd, 2009, 02:37 PM
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"Otago, Invercargill and Stewart Island" or "Upper SI and the West Coast" ?

Planning to visit New Zealand for 21 days in the March time frame [SI-14 / NI-7]. After reviewing Fodor's destination guide and comments on this forum, I've roughed out an itinerary for the SI [starting and ending in Christchurch]. Have decided on 10 of the days but would like help on the other 4.

Christchurch - 3 nights with day trips: Akaroa + Kaikoura[A] or Arthur's Pass[B]
Mt Cook - 1 night [Lake Pukaki - Omarama]

Option A - Dunedin/Invercargill/Stewart Island - 4 nights [eventually returning to CC thru Arthur's Pass]

Te Anau - 2 nights with day trip: Milford Sound
Queenstown - 2 nights with day trip: Arrowtown
Franz Josef - 2 nights

Option B - Abel Tasman/Nelson/Blenheim - 4 nights [stopping in Kaikoura on way back to CC].

We[wife/I] have no "to die for" interests but simply like to experience the local culture and see the sights that make people want to call a locale home. If it were you, how would you spend the 4 days - option A/B or something else? Comments on any part of the itinerary are welcomed. Thanks!
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Old Nov 3rd, 2009, 11:35 PM
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Personally, I'd choose option B over option A.

Getting to/from Stewart Island presents a few logistical issues...you probably realize that you must drive to Bluff from Invercargill, leave your car and take the ferry to Stewart Island...it can be a rough ride...you'll need to arrange some sort of transport at the other end, although motel operators are more than happy to collect/drop you off if you're staying on the island...

Although Stewart Island is small, it's worthy of at least a few full days of exploration......taking a water taxi to Ulva Island is very much worth the effort. Stewart and Ulva are excellent places for birding and walking.

I think it might be difficult to squeeze Dunedin, Invercargill and Stewart Island into four nights, unless you just plan to pass through. There's quite a lot to do in Dunedin, and if it were me, I'd spend at least three nights on Stewart Island, especially considering the time, effort and expense in getting there.

Abel Tasman/Nelson/Blenheim would be much easier to fit into your existing itinerary, although as with everything, it really depends on your personal interests.

Here's a travel time/distance calculator that might help in your planning:

http://www.aatravel.co.nz/main/td-calculator.php
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Old Nov 3rd, 2009, 11:42 PM
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Another thought...

You might consider changing the order of your itinerary -

If you go up to the Abel Tasman area after Christchurch and Kaikoura, I'd suggest going down the west coast via SH 6 towards Westport, then heading south via Punakaiki to the the glaciers, and on to Queenstown/Te Anau and then returning to Christchurch via Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo.
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Old Nov 4th, 2009, 08:48 AM
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I have never been to Stewart Island (or Bluff) for the reason mentioned by Mel (frequent bad weather on the crossing which can be very rough). However I think March is considered the most settled month so it might be worthwhile. Another option is to spend the 4 days between Dunedin-Catlins-Invercargill and then on to Te Anau via Riverton and the Southern Scenic Route.

I like Dunedin and Invercargill for the "see how the locals live" experience. The main shopping streets in Invercargill are lined with heritage storefronts (and some interesting "real" antique stores). I might be alone on Fodors in my fondness for Invercargill (don't ask a Jafa about it). You might want to search out a b/b homestay/farmstay situation for a few nights in this area (I've used bnb.co.nz). And don't miss the local ice cream "Deep South" and Henry the tuatara!.
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Old Nov 6th, 2009, 06:56 AM
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Thanks for your comments. No longer considering a visit to Stewart Island. Decided to wait until we have a NI itinerary before choosing the lower coast or upper coast. Probably will depend on whether we decide to fly or take the ferry between the islands.

Can't wait to try "Deep South" ice cream in Christchurch if not Invercargill.
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Old Nov 8th, 2009, 06:46 AM
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Hi,

Melnq's given some good advice, especially about distances / travel time - you definately don't have enough of it alloted to your itinerary. Common mistake with NZ, it looks small, but it takes longer than you'd think to get from Point A to Point B (and that pesky gorgeous scenery keeps getting in the way, so you just HAVe to stop and take a picture!).

Not sure of your reasoning to go to Akaroa, but that would be a very long day trip from Christchurch to visit a small village.

Hope this is helpful!

Regards,

Melodie
Certified Kiwi Specialist
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Old Nov 8th, 2009, 06:51 PM
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Akaroa is only an hour's drive from Christchurch, Melodie. We locals will often do that as a day trip, but it does mean that you miss out on the opportunity to have a relaxing dinner at one of the nice restaurants over there, because you wouldn't want to face the drive back after dinner with a few wines inside you.

Rob.
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