Sep 10th, 2004, 06:09 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 15

We are a family of five travelling to NZ over the Christmas holidays. We have 21 days. Wondering if we should attempt to hit both islands or just stick to the South? I hate moving around too much!!
Etcheverry is offline  
Sep 10th, 2004, 06:46 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Hi, Etcheverry!

How had you planned to travel around? If you plan to rent a car, I can see no reason why you couldn't do both islands quite comfortably in 21 days. That's the exact amount of time we had to do this, and we never felt we had to rush unduly. This is not a very big area, and the roads are quite fast and not at all congested. As well, the north and south islands are so different that if you saw only one, you wouldn't really have seen New Zealand. So spend around two weeks on the south island, and one week in the north, and be prepared to be blown away by the scenery!
Alan is offline  
Sep 10th, 2004, 07:31 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Well, I haven't been yet, but we are going in November (2 couples) and we are spending 21 days on the South Island. Our plan gives us a chance to see most of the highlights, and we don't have to move too often, most places we can spend 2-3 nights, and we only have 2 big driving days (more than 2-3 hours). If you want, I can email you what our itinerary looks like.
jonesie is offline  
Sep 10th, 2004, 08:14 AM
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One more thing!! Is it a good idea to stay in Wanaka as a base and travel to Franz Josef, Queens Town and Milford Sound?
Etcheverry is offline  
Sep 10th, 2004, 01:35 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 16
Hey Jonesie,

I'd be very interested in seeing your itinerary as I'm planning a 3 week SI trip as well. Thanks very much in advance.

[email protected]
jdean is offline  
Sep 10th, 2004, 02:11 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Hi, Etcheverry,
Firstly, welcome to New Zealand.
I am assuming you are aware that the school holidays begin around 16 December, and finish the end of January, and that many NZers travel around the country in this holiday, especially near the beaches!
Wanaka is becoming as popular as Queenstown, and fine as a base to visit Queenstown, Milford / Doubtful Sounds, and areas around the lower South Island. However, from Wanaka to Franz Josef is a drive of approximately 4 - 5 hours each way, so you may want to look at making somewhere up the West Coast (e.g. Haast Village /Hokitikia / Greymouth) a base to allow a visit to the fascinating sights along here.
The time you have would allow a very good, leisurely exploration of the South Island only, or an exploration of the South Island and parts of the North Island. Although a very devout and loyal Wellingtonian I really enjoy the South Island for holidays - gives me the best of both worlds! But there are parts of the North Island that are also just out of this world.
An idea of the age of your family and your interests would be some help in suggesting activities and where you SHOULD go, IMHO! Have you worked out a suggested itinerary? May I suggest what we do, allowing for the fact that we are NZers who still enjoy the scenery which seems to change every year?! This can be adjusted for 14 or 21 days, depending on interests and whether you do both islands or just the south. It will also depend on where you arrive in NZ.
-Picton to Christchurch - approx. 4 hours' driving but allow more to look through Kaikoura- stay in Christchurch for 2/3 days to relax, sightsee, (Akaroa Harbour and township worth a visit) etc.
-Christchurch to Dunedin -approx. 6 hours driving - en route visit Moeraki Boulders south of Oamaru, and other points of interest. Alternatively, break the journey in Timaru for a couple of nights allowing a day to visit Mt Cook and sights on the way.
Stay in Dunedin 2/3 days - visit the Catlins, Taiaroa Heads and the Royal Albatross Colony, hoiho penguin sanctuaries, Baldwin Street, Olveston House, etc.
- Dunedin to Wanaka - approx. 6 hours driving. Stay 3/4 days, using as a base as mentioned earlier. Mt Cook is also accessible fron here should you decide to drive straight through to Dunedin from Christchurch. There is lots to see around here.
-Alternative - Dunedin to Invercargill via the Catlins, giving you a chance to do more in Dunedin, and allowing a trip to the bottom of the South Island - Bluff. You may want to drop a night in Dunedin to enable this leg to happen. Stay overnight in Invercargill then approx. 6 hours driving will take you to Wanaka.
- Wanaka to Greymouth is a very long haul - approx. 9 hours driving. You would probably need to break as earlier suggested at either Haast Village or Franz Josef overnight, then continue to Greymouth the next day. Stay overnight, making sure you see Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks) just north of Greymouth. From here you can either cut through Arthurs Pass to Christchurch, or drive to Nelson - a trip of approx. 5 hours driving. Staying 2/3 days in Nelson will allow you the opportunity to visit the vineyards in the area, perhaps make a very early start one day to connect with the Farewell Spit daily tour, look around the area. From there you can drive to Picton to catch a ferry to the North Island, or go back to Christchurch for a couple more days.
dotty is offline  
Sep 10th, 2004, 02:19 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 424
Oops, activated the wrong button, sorry! Hope this gives you some ideas if you don't already have some. I would recommend organising bookings for accommodation within the next month to secure the places you would like.
Have fun planning.
dotty is offline  
Sep 10th, 2004, 03:10 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,495
If you decide to spend any time on the North Island, we really enjoyed Te Papa Museum and walking the paths on Mt. Victoria in Wellington, dolphin swimming on the Bay of Plenty (you could do this in Kaikoura, too), and cave tubing in Waitomo.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
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