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Pls help with NZ South Island 12 days with surfing itinerary!

Pls help with NZ South Island 12 days with surfing itinerary!

Jan 14th, 2015, 07:22 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 32
Pls help with NZ South Island 12 days with surfing itinerary!

Hi Fodorites,

My husband and I are going to NZ for our honeymoon this March. We decided on the South Island because we both love landscapes and glaciers and some adventure sports. Does my itinerary look doable, too tiring? Also,Just as I finalized the itinerary, my husband has requested if we could go surfing (and some motocross) somewhere, sometime. Is there any place in this itinerary where we could do that? Or do I have to redo the itinerary? Thank you!

Some background: South Island only, 12 days max, return Christchurch mid 30s couple, will do the rental car/motel combo, adventurous and fairly fit

Day 1: Arrive Christchurch
Day 2: Christchurch to Greymouth via train, spend night in Greymouth
Day 3: Pick up car in Greymouth, head to Fox Glacier
Day 4: Fox Glacier to Wanaka
Day 5: Wanaka to Queenstown
Day 6: Queenstown
Day 7: Queenstown-Milford Sound- Queenstown (will do the flight-cruise combo to save time)
Day 8: Queenstown to Mt. Cook
Day 9: Mt. Cook to Lake Tekapo to Christchurch
Day 10: Explore Christchurch
Day 11: Leave Christchurch

Thank you everyone!
mia22 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2015, 10:34 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,477
I can't help with motocross or surfing, other than to provide this link, but it won't matter much anyway as you've not left yourself any time to visit the places you're driving to.


A few comments -

This is very rushed itinerary - I suggest you consider a one way drive instead of trying to do a full loop - too much driving, too little time to see what you're driving to. It takes a lot of time to make most of the drives you've outlined.

Greymouth doesn't have much on offer for tourists. I'd suggest you pick up your car right away and head to Punakaiki to see the Pancake Rocks (45 min north of Greymouth), then either spend the night there, or better yet, after the rocks head back down south and overnight at Hokitika or if time allows, continue on to the glaciers and give yourself two nights in Fox.

You really need two nights at the glaciers to do anything - one night gives you virtually no time to explore the area as you have long drives on either side of that one night.

Same with one night in Wanaka - what do you hope to accomplish in Wanaka with only one night? Sure, you can see the town, but that's about it. You'll miss the jewel of the area - Mt Aspiring Nat'l Park, which is about an hour's drive from Wanaka.

Same with Mt Cook - can't see much with one night when you've got long drives on either side of that one night. Mt Cook has some great walking tracks, but you need at least a full day there to appreciate them.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2015, 04:41 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 4,039
Totally agree with Melnq8--this itinerary is way too rushed.

I recommend you prioritize what you want to see and do and allow at least 2 - 3 nights for each destination. With only 9 - 10 actual days on the ground, that will limit you to only a few destinations, but "less is more" in New Zealand.
longhorn55 is offline  
Jan 16th, 2015, 03:18 AM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 810
I suggest you do your day of exploring in Christchurch on arrival. That will give you a bit of time to recover from jet lag (aasuming you are coming from North America) and you will be more rested when you pick up your rental and start driving on the 'wrong' side of the road.

In Christchurch I highly recommend the tour of the quake zone put on by the museum as well as the Quake City exhibit near the container mall. Fascinating to learn about life in the earthquake zone and the ways in which the city is recovering.

A note of caution regarding driving, passed on to us by our local guides on a recent trip to the south island: Visitors tend to consider the lack of traffic on the roads as an advantage. However, without much oncoming traffic they don't have the visual cues to remind them which side of the road they should be on. Very easy to drift over to the wrong side coming round a curve and not realize it till they hit someone head on. Be careful and stay safe.
eliztravels2 is offline  
Jan 17th, 2015, 11:16 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,689
here's another vote for taking it slowly. we'd only been in NZ a couple of days when we realised that our itinerary was far too rushed, so we dd some re-jigging and ended up with 3 nights in Wanaka, not the one we'd booked. it was a great choice - it turned out to be one of our favourite places in NZ.

and from your thread title, i thought that you'd got about the same amount of time as us [13 nights] but in fact you have only 10 nights, which limits your choices somewhat.

Depending on your arrival and departure times, i agree that I would spend the first day in Christchurch, and then set off early the next morning for Fox/Franz Joseph. that will give you the chance to spend 2 nights there, and as Mel says, there's hardly any point in going if you don't spend some time there.

Then drive to Wanaka - stay 2 nights - onto QT for 3 nights - [gives you a day for Milford Sound and another for some of the other activities there] and a night on Mount cook on the way back to C/C.

you need to check the flight times of course to make sure that you'd have enough time to get back to CIAO, CARI for your flight out on the last day. otherwise, if you like this itinerary I think you'll have to lose a night from QT.
annhig is offline  
Jan 18th, 2015, 05:26 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 32
Thank you for your replies everyone! I took your comments into consideration and adjusted the itinerary. I also added some days. Here is the new plan:

Day 1: Arrive Christchurch
Day 2: Explore Christchurch
Day 3: Depart Christchurch, head to Fox Glacier
Day 4: Fox Glacier
Day 5: Fox Glacier to Wanaka
Day 6: Explore Wanaka
Day 7: Wanaka to Queenstown
Day 8: Queenstown
Day 9: Queenstown-Milford Sound- Queenstown (will do the flight-cruise combo to save time)
Day 10: Queenstown to Mt. Cook
Day 11: Mt. Cook to Lake Tekapo to Christchurch
Day 12: Leave Christchurch

Is this itinerary better? I'm a little nervous about our departure from Christchurch being just the day after we get back so I may put another day in Chch, to be safe. Thanks again everyone!
mia22 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2015, 08:41 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,689
Agree - much better.

Depending on your time of departure from C/C you should be alright with arriving there one day and leaving the next - it's roughly a 4 hour drive from Mount Cook to C/C. But if you've got an extra day, it would mean that you could take longer on the drive, as you wouldn't need to hurry.
annhig is offline  
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