Please help with weeks South Island New Zealand

Jan 2nd, 2018, 06:56 AM
  #21  
 
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So back to Abel Tasman. I said in the original post

>>

We spent 3 nights in Nelson in a very nice motel on the edge of town and did a day trip to Abel Tasman via bus and boat; our reason for staying in Nelson was that we like to be able to walk to restaurants in the evening so that we can both have a drink and to be somewhere with a little life like bars and cafes, and we had been doing a lot of driving, so the bus worked well for us. With more time, we might well have spend a couple of nights nearer to Abel Tasman but what we did worked for us. The walk we did was quite flat BTW, they drop you off at one end of it and pick you up at the other and you can't really afford to dawdle, though we did end up with quite a lot of time on the beach at the end of the walk while we waited for the boat to pick us up.

Contrary to Mel's advice we did drive all the way from Nelson to FJ in a day [and stopped off a few times en route] but it was a long day and naturally we had to miss out a few things, like the Punakaiki rocks but then we had 2 nights in FJ [when you could walk out to the glacier and walk on it, something you can't do now] and 3 in Wanaka. I see that you've cut FJ down to one night which if you're not interested in the glaciers seems sensible. Don't miss the nearby lake though [Mel will know the name] where you get a wonderful view of Mount Cook with its reflection in the lake - lovely.

As for sandflies, we found that the spray you can get is pretty good but if one or two get through, a roll on deodorant [a tip given us by our hosts in Wanaka] works a treat.
annhig is online now  
Jan 2nd, 2018, 09:27 AM
  #22  
 
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The lake annhig refers to is Lake Matheson, which is closer to Fox than Franz
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Jan 2nd, 2018, 11:09 AM
  #23  
 
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The lake annhig refers to is Lake Matheson, which is closer to Fox than Franz>>

Not much in it though, as I remember Mel? and worth a slight detour.
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Jan 2nd, 2018, 11:21 AM
  #24  
 
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Lol..those cable cars in Europe really amuse me! I get that there are so many more people over there and it makes sense to get them all up to the top quickly.
Sir Edmund Hillary would turn in his grave however! NZ mountains are rugged and offer no frills at all. He climbed up somewhere with just a marmalade sandwich to sustain him.
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Jan 2nd, 2018, 11:58 AM
  #25  
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Diamantina

I almost always plug the location of accommodations into Google maps and then go to satellite, as I don't like surprises

I hadn't done it for the cottage in Punakaiki as I don't have the actual address yet, but it certainly looks like it would be the area, if not the cottage in your Google Street View. But the little man woudn't walk anywhere

Peter's Pool loooks like a nice walk if a "reflection" type of day, and I do agree
Lake Matheson looks like a must


Do you mean snow/road closures? If so would it be more likely that we couldn't drive back to Aoraki Mt. Cook, but Lake Tekapo would still be a possibility? Is the road to Aoraki Mt. Cook a higher elevation road?

Lake Pukaki photo taken from Peter's Lookout on Mt. Cook Highway OH MY!

The vineyard cottage I wanted to stay in is close to Nelson, but I'm giving it up as I really am looking forward to staying at Nelson, at a place on the outskirts with great views.
***and Annhig, is the Boatshed Restaurant in Nelson where you ate and had a good dinner?

I already have a house on hold for Queenstown, it's above the mouth of Frankton Arm so somewhat on the outskirts

I am still looking for vineyard cottage accomodation in Blenheim for the first 2 nights, and maybe in Wanaka, also a place to stay near Takaka, doesn't have to be a cottage, might need a B&B with helpful people!
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Jan 2nd, 2018, 03:36 PM
  #26  
 
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Hi Wrenwood. Don't worry about snow. By "awful weather" in November I mean rain and heavy clouds that obscure the wonderful views (Aoraki-Mt. Cook's peak is often obscured by cloud). Typical spring weather, one day could be clear and sunny, the next day wet and rainy. Mt. Cook Highway (SH80) is not at a particularly high elevation and hardly ever closes, even in winter. It's a great road (as you can see from that photo).

To get from Queenstown or Wanaka to Aoraki-Mt. Cook, you will have to drive over one mountain pass, Lindis Pass, which you must drive with extra care at all times. There is a sign at the start of it warning of the high crash rate. There was fatality there in November 2017, and another accident causing serious injuries in December 2017 (about 10 days ago). I'm not a crash scene investigator, but my guess is people were driving too fast, were distracted, or failed to drive to conditions (heavy rain or fog, strong winds).

The other mountain passes you'll drive on Crown Range Road (between Wanaka and Queenstown) and Haast Pass (from the West Coast to Wanaka). In comparison to other mountainous countries, these mountain passes are not very high at all, but they do see a lot of use.

Snow can sometimes fall on the highest mountain passes in November and December ("cold snaps"), but these spring and summer snowfalls usually melt quickly and don't warrant road closures. And if the road should close, it would probably be for a few hours. You'll know when you get here and notice what the weather's like. If in doubt, check the NZ Transport Agency website for updates on traffic, roadworks, and road closures:
http://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/
This site has weather information:
http://www.metservice.com/national/home
As you can see from above, there are severe weather warnings for the North Island now.
Diamantina is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2018, 03:52 PM
  #27  
 
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<>

Absolutely.
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Jan 2nd, 2018, 04:10 PM
  #28  
 
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A little more about Aoraki-Mt. Cook.

Aoraki Mt. Cook is NZ's highest mountain, with its summit at 3724 metres (a midget compared to Himalayan peaks), but the village is at an elevation of 747 metres. So you're in a valley surrounded by 19 peaks that rise more than 3000 metres (or 10,000 feet) around you. Imagine sitting in a bowl whose sides are composed of high glaciated mountains.

Its landscape is different from the lush temperate rainforest around Franz Josef. There's little forest here, but more than 300 types of alpine plants.

The mountain also has tremendous historical and spiritual significance. Kiwi Sir Edmund Hillary prepared for his historic Mt. Everest Climb by practicing on Aoraki-Mt. Cook and these neighboring mountains. The Ngai Tahu, the main tribe (or iwi) of the South Island regard Aoraki Mt. Cook as the most sacred of their ancestors.

As I mentioned before, the road into Aoraki-Mt. Cook Road (SH80) is as scenic as the village itself, particularly the section that skirts beautiful Lake Pukaki. In late November-early December, it can be even more colorful due to the flowering of the invasive Russell Lupin weed. It looks like this:
https://mackenzienz.com/mackenzie-lupins/
https://www.nzgeo.com/stories/war-of-the-lupins/
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Jan 3rd, 2018, 02:54 AM
  #29  
 
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I just read about these new attractions in Blenheim (Wine Station, Marlborough Flyer):
https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/f...ntral-blenheim
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Jan 3rd, 2018, 06:43 AM
  #30  
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The Wine Station looks kind of cool!

The pictures of the Lupins are amazing, I wish our invasive weeds were so beautiful!

I doubt if there are many places in the world anymore where non-native plants haven't been introduced, causing some problems and controversy.

Thankfully it looks like the hotels at Mt Cook have a 2-3 day cancellation policy, so hopefully we would have an idea of the weather a few days before having to make a final decision.

Any ideas on "Plan B" if Mt Cook weather looks miserable? Catlins? Somewhere else on the SE Coast?
wrenwood is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2018, 04:46 PM
  #31  
 
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I'd stick with plans to go to Aoraki-Mt. Cook unless the weather forecast so dreadful that it leads to Lindis Pass being closed. And chances of this are very slim in early December. While I believe the forecasters do their best, forecasts of several days out can prove wrong as the weather is erratic and can change. Forecasts are reliable for one to two days out.

I find the dramatic scenery of Mackenzie Basin and the Southern Alps and alpine lakes more attractive, but, then again, I live on the coast just north of the Catlins. While I love the Catlins, it's more similar to here.

But if you want a Plan B, and would like to see a different sort of environment with unique attractions, the Catlins is feasible. It'd be about a three hour drive from Te Anau, and more than a three hour drive from Frankton. Catlins attractions (Curio and Porpoise Bay, Nugget Point Lighthouse, Cathedral Caves, Lost Gypsy Gallery, waterfalls, forest, wetlands, etc.) are spread out and the roads in-between winding and a bit slow-going. So you'd probably be doing more driving around in the Catlins, as opposed to staying put for two nights in Aoraki-Mt. Cook (during which time the weather could improve). There's not as much traffic in the Catlins as compared to SH8 (through Mackenzie Basin).

Some of the Catlins attractions are time-dependent. Cathedral Caves must be visited within two hours of low tide. If you'd like to see the Yellow Eyed Penguins swim ashore at Curio Bay or elsewhere, best time is late afternoon/early evening.

Useful links for the Catlins:
http://www.catlins.org.nz/
https://www.southernscenicroute.co.nz/

Keep in mind, if there'll be a storm passing over the South Island, Aoraki-Mt. Cook and the Catlins and might be equally affected. If you look at Metservice right now, you'll see the weather forecasts are similar for Aoraki-Mt. Cook and Clutha (North Catlins).
http://www.metservice.com/mountain/a...-national-park
http://www.metservice.com/rural/clutha

And when the Southerlies blow, this East Coast can get bitterly cold.

More about the scenery of Lindis Pass (which, as mentioned before, many people love) :
https://www.newzealand.com/ca/feature/lindis-pass/
http://www.newzealandtravelinsider.c...indis-pass.htm
Diamantina is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2018, 04:51 PM
  #32  
 
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Maybe a good Plan B (which, by the way, I don't think you'll need), would be to go to Cromwell/Bannockburn wine country for a couple of nights. You wouldn't have to drive too far.
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Jan 4th, 2018, 05:24 AM
  #33  
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OK I won't worry about Plan B at the moment

After all when we spent 3 days in Zermatt the Matterhorn had a cloud cover over it's top ............until the last morning!

I'm sure we can hit Cromwell/Bannockburn as a day trip from Queenstown
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Jan 4th, 2018, 06:09 PM
  #34  
 
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"I'm sure we can hit Cromwell/Bannockburn as a day trip from Queenstown"

Easily done. Give yourself plenty of time. You might want to break up your winery-going and tasting with a long lunch at Mt. Difficulty (reserve ahead). Most of the cellar doors are open for tastings, but a tiny few, such as Felton Road, will require a reservation.

In addition to visiting the wineries of Gibbston Valley, Cromwell and Bannockburn, you might want to visit one of Cromwell's famous fruit stone fruit stands. Central Otago cherries should be available by early December. The best of these are imported to Taiwan, China and other Asian countries, where they can sell for $1 a piece!

It'll take about 50 minutes or more to drive from Queenstown to Bannockburn. From Gibbston Valley to Cromwell, you'll drive through Kawerau Gorge. It's beautiful, but winding. There's a lovely winery along here, Wild Earth Wines. It's next to the historic Goldfields Mining Center. To get to the winery, you'll walk over a footbridge suspended over the Kawerau River.
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Jan 4th, 2018, 06:25 PM
  #35  
 
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I should have added it'd better to visit Gibbston Valley and Cromwell/Bannockburn on separate days.
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Jan 5th, 2018, 07:52 AM
  #36  
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Diamantina awesome suggestions/ will work it in

I've changed things a little.

If I google Abel Tasman images, I see a lot of beautiful beaches, sparkling water, green roundy-moundy hills/low mountains.

As I said, we're just not beach people, prefer mountain scenery. So I think we're going to skip the 2 days at the north end, add a day to Nelso, and a day to Wanaka


So updated........

Upon arrival, 2 nights Blenheim for rest, recovery and wine

4 nights Nelson

2 nights Punakaiki ~ any suggestions for a stopover between Nelson and Punakaiki?

1 night Arthurs Pass

1 night Fox Glacier for Matheson Lake Walk

3 nights Wanaka

2 nights Mt Cook

3 nights Te Anau

6 nights Queenstown
I am still thinking 6 nights Queenstown, as that's only 5 full days. It gives us time for Glenorchy, Gibbston Valley, Cromwell/Bannockburn and time to make a repeat visit/drive somewhere in the area if the weather has been bad.
Plus the last full day we will be starting our packing for our departure the next day
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Jan 5th, 2018, 09:17 AM
  #37  
 
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By stopover between Nelson and Punakaiki, do you mean overnight?
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Jan 5th, 2018, 01:53 PM
  #38  
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Bo, it seems a fairly short drive between, I was thinking lunch, short walk, town?
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Jan 5th, 2018, 02:39 PM
  #39  
 
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Nelson to Punakaiki is about 3:45 w/o stops.

Plenty of places to stop and poke around en route - Murchison is tiny, but surrounded by some very nice walking tracks. The drive via the Buller Gorge is very pretty on a nice day.

You'll drive right past NZ's longest swingbridge.

Not many food options en route, but we've had good meals at River's Cafe in Murchison (assuming they're still around).

You might be interested in the short detour to Maruia Falls, located 23 km south of Murchison via SH 65. The falls were created following the 1929 earthquake and they really are a sight to behold.
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Jan 5th, 2018, 04:30 PM
  #40  
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Thank Mel, will check them out
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