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Please give your views on a South Island driving question

Please give your views on a South Island driving question

Sep 24th, 2009, 08:48 AM
  #1  
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Please give your views on a South Island driving question

Towards the end of our NZ trip we wanted to stop in Akaroa for one night before driving to Queenstown but a closer look at the map and it seems that the Banks Peninsula is too much of a detour for one night adding a wiggly 90km to our long drive south.
The question is should we skip Akaroa and head South with a pit stop somewhere around Mount Cook or should we stay 2 nights in Akaroa and fly to Queenstown instead?
How scenic and beautiful is the drive?
We will have just been to Tongariro and have 3 days in the Queenstown/Milford area so I thought Akaroa would be a nice change.
Can anyone who's been there give us some advice?
Thanks
carrom is offline  
Sep 24th, 2009, 04:04 PM
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Hi again!

Akaroa and the banks Peninsula was nice, but not amazing for me. I think NZ is more about the natural wonders than the little towns and whatnot. But that is me.

I have driven to all these places, and would definitely recommoned skipping Akaroa, and taking a pit stop somewhere in the center of the country (ie around Mount Cook.) I recall some day treks you can do to walk around that area and take in the mountain.

I see your point re: a lot of mountains strung back to back. however, there should be a bunch of lakes on the drive, and it is a good way to take in the countryside.

Give Aoraki a chance! Banks Peninsula is nice, but not that amazing.

www.ruba.com
TrekthePlanet is offline  
Sep 24th, 2009, 05:40 PM
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I personally like Akaroa, but it's not a place I'd go out of my way to squeeze into a short trip. I'd suggest skipping it and heading to Queenstown via the West Coast, not the inland route. I find the drive down the West Coast far more scenic than the inland route which takes you through Lake Tekapo and near Mt Cook.
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 24th, 2009, 06:21 PM
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Once again a poster has not said anything about their interests which makes it hard to comment other than from personal preferences.

If you are into whales, other cetaceans, birds or geology then stay at Akaora two nights otherwise take a different route.
Saltuarius is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 02:02 AM
  #5  
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You are right Saltuarius. It's because I've posted so many times about this trip I didn't want to bore everyone again with our interests!
However one of them is food and wine and small towns which is why I thought Christchurch and Akaroa would be a nice break from mountains and lakes. We are doing Auckland-
Tauranga- (Rotorua) Taupo-Tongariro-Wellington-Blenheim-Christchurch-Fiordland-Queenstown. So many posters have been concerned about too much driving so I have now had this other brainwave:we could fly from Christchurch to Invercargill, drive to Milford Sound, do the overnight cruise and drive back to Queenstown from where we fly out.
We would miss the Mount Cook drive but at least we'd do the Milford one which everyone says is so spectacular. (We had planned on a day trip by small plane from Queenstown).
How does this sound?
carrom is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 02:10 AM
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Why not fly Christchurch to Queenstown instead? I don't get the Invercargill bit.
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 02:53 AM
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We're sharing the same brain, Other Mel - that was my thought as well!

Melodie
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wlzmatilida is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 07:22 AM
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I really like the inland route from Christchurch to Queenstown. Not only do you see the glacial blue lakes, there are some small towns with a bit of character, Geraldine, Fairlie, even Methven.

And I am probably alone, but as a city Invercargill was interesting, very little tourist influence. The downtown (Dee Street) is like a step back in time. Nice Museum and a manufacturer's outlet for high end babylamb garments (Knight of NZ). It also might be the best place to try whitebait fritters.

The west coast drive can be good if the weather is, otherwise it is a bust.

I wouldn't fly. There is too much good scenery to see.
mlgb is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 10:57 AM
  #9  
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Initially we wanted to drive everywhere but our time is quite limited and we are driving all the way from Auckland.
If we drive to Queenstown we'll have to fly to Milford Sound and from what I gather to miss that drive would be a pity.
In answer to the second question: If we fly into Queenstown we will have to drive to Milford Sound and back the same way. Whereas if we fly into Invercargill we get to see a possibly interesting new place and (partly) drive a different route back. Our flight would arrive at 10am giving us plenty of time to see places before the 4.30 pm overnight cruise. Next morning we can drive to Queenstown where we have 2 nights before flying to Sydney.
After your comments I am now having 2nd thoughts about Akaroa....is there anywhere nice closer to Christchurch but on the beach where we could stop over from Blenheim?
Thanks everyone for your patience! I do appreciate.
carrom is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 12:19 PM
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I've stopped at a few of the beaches along the coast north of Christchurch and they are mainly cobblestone and coarse darkish sand (because of the huge amounts of gravel and sediment coming down from the S. Alps).

If it was me I would keep going, I think spend the night in Christchurch in the area near the Botanic Garden (my favorite B&B is Windsor Hotel). Or alternatively cut inland Route 73/77 or thereabouts and stay in Methven.
mlgb is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 01:09 AM
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Akaroa on a good day is a pleasant place to visit, but if you strike it on a cold day when a southerly wind is blowing, it can be extremely unpleasant. Stick with your thoughts of giving it a miss.

Depending on the level of accommodation that you are after, you could stay at Terrace Downs, near Methven. It has accommodation with great views on an excellent (and challenging) golf course with a very good restaurant on site.

A bit further south of Methven, Stronechrubie at Mt Somers has more basic (but still very comfortable) accommodation and it, too, has a good restaurant attached.
kiwi_rob is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 02:25 AM
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Thank you all but we have decided to fly. We've got to leave something for our next trip!! The thing is if we drive to Queenstown even with one stop we still have a long drive to Milford Sound and back. Whereas if we fly to Invercargill we get to do a round trip with practically no backtracking. Lonely Planet says the drive from Invercargill to the Sounds is very picturesque. I'm sure Mount Cook is better but can't do everything! Also I have just read a book set in Little River which inspired me to visit!
carrom is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 03:31 AM
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Okay, but you do realize that the drive from Invercargill to Milford Sound is four hours, 278 km and that you will need to backtrack from Milford via Te Anau to get to Queenstown...so only Invercargill to Lumsden will be new, right?

While in Invercargill be sure to stop for some Deep South ice cream - it's available at most milk stores (convenience type store). Heaven.
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 09:17 AM
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There is a long backroad between Invercargill and Manapouri. You don't have to backtrack at all.
mlgb is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 04:29 PM
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Hi mlgb -

Looking at my map I think I see the road you're referring to. From The Key to Manapouri, right? Carrom would still need to backtrack from Milford to Te Anau and from The Key to Mossburn to get to Queenstown, unless I'm missing something.
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 06:47 PM
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You can go along the southern coast all the way to Tuatapere on 99, then from Clifden there is a backroad to Manapouri, and then the 95 between Manapouri and Te Anau. You don't pass thru Mossburn this way at all. If you use Google Maps you can zoom in and see it.
mlgb is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 07:01 PM
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Thanks mlgb. I think I need a new map.
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 03:45 AM
  #18  
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This coast road is what Lonely Planet reccommends as the scenic route. Obviously we will backtrack from Milford Sound to Te Anau but that's about it. I know it will be quite long but once we get there we'll board the boat and have no more worries till morning! I just hope there are no hitches because we fly in at 10am need to get the car and boarding is at 4pm. We should be ok but we'll have to hurry for ice cream and whitebait!
Hopefully the traffic will be going the opposite way....
carrom is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 08:34 AM
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It's the western part of the Southern Scenic Route. It's too bad that you'll be dashing through, it's best appreciated with a few stops along the way.

If you haven't found their website yet, it's here

http://www.southernscenicroute.co.nz/
mlgb is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 08:43 AM
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Btw there is a famous old bar in Tuatapere that's a good spot to stop if you have time (but you may not have time for more than a pee stop!)

http://www.waiauhotel.co.nz/

And another website for Southland

http://www.southlandnz.com/VisitSouthland.aspx

(Can you tell I've spent a lot of time there?)

Mel, maybe on your next trip...The Humpridge?
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