Pl anning Driving The West Coast of New Zealand

Nov 20th, 2008, 11:19 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 7
Pl anning Driving The West Coast of New Zealand

i am staying a few days in nelson and Exploring the Abel Tasman Region before driving the west coast of new zealand. i want to know the best route. must see places to see/explore and the best places to stay overnight. how many days should i devote to getting to queenstown?

here's what we have right now

Wed Feb 25 Drive West Coast of South Island
Best driving route?

Stop Pancake Rocks where else? can i do all this in one day do i need overnight?
Thurs Feb 26 Franz Josef
Fri Feb 27 Franz Josef
Heli-Hiking on Franz Josef Glacier
Sat Feb 28 All day drive to Queenstown with stops to explore?? where should we stop and explore? Is this rushed and impossible. best place to stop overnight on the way. was thinking Wanaka. better suggestion?

aricmartin1114 is offline  
Nov 20th, 2008, 01:43 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 295
Even given a very early start from Nelson you are not going to have much time to do anything but drive, drive, drive.

The standard route from Nelson would be to head east and then down through Murchison to Westport where you then continue down the coast.

Pancake Rocks is nice but it would be great to have time to hike either the Fox River or Pororari River Tracks.

I like the walk around Matheson lake near the Fox Glacier but I don't see you having time to do many excursions.

It is another long haul from Franz Joseph to Queenstown. I would stop at Wanaka.
AlwaysOnTheRoad is offline  
Nov 20th, 2008, 06:09 PM
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I agree. Do you have the capacity to extend the time or is that all that you have available? You are going to be passing through some fantastically beautiful scenery, and it would be a shame if you can't stop and enjoy it properly.
kiwi_rob is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2008, 12:00 PM
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we can possibly extend. how much time should we take what should we see? where should we stay overnight.
aricmartin1114 is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2008, 09:51 PM
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I suggest you review some of the itineraries and reports that people have posted and develop at least some idea of a preliminary plan. Identify the maximum time you have, your interests, style of accommodation, etc.
AlwaysOnTheRoad is offline  
Nov 24th, 2008, 07:59 PM
Join Date: May 2007
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I do have some suggestions to make, but will not be able to do this fully for a couple of days. In the meantime, a bit more info as Always has suggested would be helpful.
kiwi_rob is offline  
Nov 25th, 2008, 03:13 AM
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You might find this drive time/distance calculator helpful in your planning:
Melnq8 is offline  
Nov 26th, 2008, 08:19 PM
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Posts: 54
I would go for Wanaka too. Also if you like a good drop of NZ Pinot or Reisling, drop into Rippon Winery just outside of Wanaka. Must rate as one of the most scenic vineyards in the world.
robbieb is offline  
Nov 27th, 2008, 05:59 PM
Join Date: May 2007
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I would suggest that you head to Punakaiki (the Pancake Rocks) on the 25th. The drive down through the Buller Gorge is easy travelling. When you get to Westport, I recommend taking a detour up the coast about 30k to Denniston, an old coalmining settlement perched right on top of the hill. The views alone from up there are worth the drive, but the display showing the amazing engineering feat of the Dennniston Incline, the process by which they got the coal down to the wharf, is fascinating.
A lunch stop at Westport should allow you enough time to visit Cape Foulwind and see the seal colony there. There is a nice circuit walk around the clifftops and, if the tide is low, you can walk one way or the other along the seashore.
Continue on down to Punakaiki for the night. This would be a fairly full day.

If you just want to see the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, one night at Punakaiki should suffice. The Blowholes are best seen at high tide and, if there is a bit of a swell and an onshore wind, they can be an awesome sight and sound. If you have the time to spend two nights at Punakaiki and do some of the excellent walks in the area, that would give you the opportunity to get your timing right for the Blowholes.

Next day will get you comfortably to Franz Josef. Personally, I don't find Greymouth or Hokitika to be places that I want to spend a lot of time in, but I live here and have visited those towns on many occasions, and there may be tourist activities there that would appeal to people from overseas. For instance, I understand that Shantytown, 10k south of Greymouth, is a well-regarded attraction but, having been there once, it holds no appeal for me.

From Franz, I suggest that you drive through to Wanaka for a night before heading on down to Queenstown. This will make that part of your journey just a bit more pleasant, and Wanaka is worthwhile as a destiation in its own right. On the way, you could pop in to have a look at Fox Glacier as well.

To throw in a curve-ball, if you have the time and you want to see something a little different, on the 25th you could drive from Nelson to Maruia Springs, a small place on the West Coast side of Lewis Pass. There are some good thermal hot springs there and the resort (?) has quite a nice Japanese restaurant -- not what you would normally expect to find in such a remote place. The hotpools are great, and not as commercialised as at Hanmer Springs, and the alpine scenery is wonderful. From there, you could drive to Westport and resume the itenerary as suggested above.

A word of caution. The sandflies in this area are ferocious!
kiwi_rob is offline  
Jun 9th, 2009, 10:42 AM
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GillsinEurope is offline  
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