Queenstown/Otango for 72 hours

Oct 5th, 2015, 11:21 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 36
Queenstown/Otango for 72 hours

Hello, we arrive in Queenstown (South Island) on a Wed afternoon in early March, and fly out on Saturday afternoon. We have a car reserved.

We're interested in bucket list scenery and being active, so hiking, jet boating, or cruising Milford sound are all thoughts, but here are some questions.

Any suggestions on "must see/must do" in this area of New Zealand? Milford Sound? We could also drive up to the glaciers one day but is that any better scenery than what is fijord ladn park and surrounding area?

Is it possible to drive a rental car all the way to Milford sound and then do a cruise? I would think so, but all the posts/guidebooks mention being on a charter bus which is not something I'd like to do.

Where are some great day hikes?

Assuming one can drive to the Sound and the best day hikes are in fijord land park, would staying in Te Anu be a better option than staying in Queenstown?

Has anyone done the combo flight/cruise out of Queenstown? If that's recommended, then we could stay in Q-town and maybe explore in a different direction other than Te Anu?

In general, just looking for others thoughts on how to make the most of our 72 hours!


mackstud is offline  
Oct 5th, 2015, 02:05 PM
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 227
The coach/cruise/fly option from Queenstown to Milford Sound is your best option if your budget allows it. That way, you'll have the other half of the day to explore.

You'll definitely want to head up the gondola and take in the views. Get a couple of luge rides while you're up there, it's fun!

Shotover Jet Boat is a true extreme activity. You'll be whizzing very close to the canyon walls at warp speed. Very New Zealand. So is bungy-jumping - it's fun enough just to watch at the Kawarau Bridge. The Skipper's Canyon tour is worthwhile as well. You can do it combined with a jet boat ride - but the road is as thrilling as the boat ride (rental cars are not allowed on it).

Drive out to Glenorchy, it's one of the most scenic drives in the country. You could do the short (~2.5 hours) Crichton Loop walk, or Bob's Cove (~1.5 hours) on the way.

You could also make a day of it by driving via Arrowtown to Wanaka. Have some lunch along the lake. Then return via Cromwell.

Heading to the West Coast is too far and your only option is to return on the same road you drove out on. Not a good use of your time.

You could spend 2 nights in Te Anau if wanting to self-drive to Milford Sound. There is a glow worm cave tour from there. But with only 3 nights total, I wouldn't recommend it. Your chances of better weather are in Queenstown anyway.

There's lots to do around Queenstown. Rent bikes in Arrowtown and cycle down to the Gibbston Valley wineries! When you are done, you don't have to cycle back. Just call the bike company to pick you up.
deSchenke is offline  
Oct 6th, 2015, 06:18 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 36
Thank you deSchenke for the very helpful review, exactly what we were hoping to obtain!
mackstud is offline  
Oct 6th, 2015, 01:23 PM
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 631
Excellent advice above for you Mackstud.
My two cents worth is to stay in Queenstown not Te Anau. You don't have time to go to the glaciers so forget that. Milford tours work well because you can look out the window the whole time. If you drive a car then the driver misses out of some of the sights.
tasmangirl is offline  
Oct 6th, 2015, 04:41 PM
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 227
I'm glad it was helpful. When I reread what I wrote, it seems a scattered mess. What I was trying to get across was there is plenty to do in Queenstown in 72 hours. I'd base yourself there to avoid check-in/check-out procedures. If you rent a car, there are daytrips (Glenorchy, Wanaka, Gibbstone Valley) that are very worthwhile and will give you some awesome scenery. You can get by with spending lots of money on extreme adventures, or spend nothing by walking, driving, and exploring on your own.

I remembered another free thing to do is to drive up the Remarkables Road for really stunning views. Yet another scattered thought.

Though we didn't do it, I thought the Segway tour looked fun, different, and a relatively less expensive way to see the Queenstown area and Lake Wakatipu.
deSchenke is offline  
Oct 6th, 2015, 05:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,566

It's absolutely possible, and I much prefer the self-drive option. Self-drive allows considerably more flexibility, and if you plan well and leave from Te Anau (having overnighted in Te Anau the previous and following nights), you'll have plenty of time to take in some of the fabulous walking tracks - I highly recommend the track to Key Summit.

Everywhere! Glenorchy (Mt Aspiring Nat'l Park), Te Anau, right out of Queenstown, Wanaka (Mt Aspiring Nat'l Park)...you're spoiled for choice.

Yes, particularly if exploring the tracks is a priority.

HOWEVER, with only 72 hours, you're going to have to make some tough choices. Queenstown makes a great base from which to see quite a lot. In your case, a day trip to Milford might be a better use of your time, but you'll be limited on what you can do en route and it's a long day.
Melnq8 is online now  
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