Queenstown to Christchurch in 3 days

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Oct 19th, 2017, 10:55 AM
  #1
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Queenstown to Christchurch in 3 days

Hello! This is my first time posting and I have really learned so much from reading other threads!

My husband and I are traveling from Queenstown to Christchurch on Nov 11-14th and would love some suggestions on what to do. Currently, we are doing a fly-cruise-fly to Milford Sound on the morning of the 11th and free the rest of the day (staying the night in Queenstown that evening). At this point in our trip we will have already spent 4 days in Queenstown so looking more so for short drives to hiking trails in the surrounding area. Tentatively:
11: Milford Sound, free afternoon, night in Queenstown
12: leave early AM and head toward Wanaka- no agenda. Hoping to stay the night closer to (if not in) Pukaki area.
13: Lake Pukaki area/ Tekapo (open to input here on similarities/differences between the two) and end the night in Christchurch.
14: Flying out at 9AM.

We will have already spent 2 days in Christchurch in an earlier part of our trip so coming in late on the 13th is fine with us. Mainly a night stay for an earlier flight in the morning.

A little info on us: in our late 20s; doing lots of high-adrenaline activities during other parts of our trip and wanting to end our trip with more nature-filled experiences. We like staying busy and being 'go-go-go!' We enjoy mild to moderate hiking (under 4 hours preferably), taking in aerial views, and photography. Looking forward to some great tips you guys can provide!
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Oct 19th, 2017, 11:48 PM
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Looks very sensible! And you will get some great photos on the trip. The Lindis Pass is the most scenic when driven northwards.
Lake Pukaki is the pale blue one due to "glacial flour". I'm not sure there's a lot of accommodation choices around there so it would pay to book something.
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Oct 20th, 2017, 06:52 AM
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Thanks for the response! Any hiking trails or areas you recommend in that area? From my understanding, these are all small towns between QT and Christchurch. Any particular ones we should stop in?
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Oct 20th, 2017, 11:32 AM
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It's been a while since I drove around the area...they are all small towns but Geraldine is famous for pies I think!
There will be lovely walks around Lake Tekapo - https://mackenzienz.com/tours/walkin...s-lake-tekapo/
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Oct 21st, 2017, 08:43 AM
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Is there a reason you are not listing Mt. Cook in the possible itinerary? I can't imagine driving from QT to CC and not stopping at Mt. Cook for several very nice but very doable hikes of < 4 hours.

I suppose there is the extra time to drive up to Mt Cook Village from Pukaki, but that should only add < 2 hours to the trip.
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Oct 21st, 2017, 12:41 PM
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Geraldine used to be home to our favorite restaurant, Feast. Unfortunately, it has closed.

If you find yourself in Geraldine, don't miss Talbot Forest Cheese.

There are some nice walks in the nearby Peel Forest and nice hot chocolate at Coco Chocolaterie and a farmer's market every Saturday in the summer.

I can also recommend a very nice B&B there.
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Oct 22nd, 2017, 01:14 PM
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@Paulg: Sorry for the confusion! Yes Mt. Cook is included on the 13th. I suspected that would be the trails we would be recommended as I understand there is only a simple walking path around Lake Pukaki and not much else- please correct me if I'm wrong. Hooker Valley is the common name that pops up on other threads; do you believe that would be doable or any other you recommend?

Geraldine would be about 1.5 hours from Pukaki on our drive toward CC. Definitely an option to stretch our legs for a moment.
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Oct 22nd, 2017, 02:06 PM
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Jpatel12, no worries. Yes, Hooker Valley is maybe the most popular one, and very doable. My profile picture is from the end of that trail under Mt Cook. There are a couple of others that are also worthwhile, but if you only have time for one, you can't go wrong with that one.
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Oct 22nd, 2017, 03:13 PM
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I just read your trip report to NZ and it sounded fantastic! Thanks for tips. We will probably try hiking up to Rob Roy Glacier in Wanaka as well. You mentioned getting a flat and being reimbursed upon returning the rental- I thought another member had stated that road is off-limits on most rental agreements? That is our biggest drawback and subsequent search for another hike if we aren't able to drive the first part.
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Oct 22nd, 2017, 03:36 PM
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The road to Rob Roy Glacier isn't generally a problem, but beyond that point, the road can definitely get dicey - lots of fords to cross, particularly after rain.

I have details in one of my trip reports, I'll try to find it and post.
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Oct 22nd, 2017, 03:49 PM
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Found this excerpt from one of my reports:

<>

And this from one of my old posts:

<
Another reason to rent an older, pre-abused car from APEX IMO.

Roy Roy is about an hour's drive west of Wanaka. As long as the fords are dry, it's really not all that bad, just slow going as it can be rougher than a cob. There is transport available if you'd rather not take the risk.>>

We've driven this road many, many times in a rental car, and usually in the off season when the fords can be a challenge. We drive in much further than Rob Roy Glacier, and the road tends to get worse the further one goes. We go in with our eyes wide open and fully accept the risk (and have never had a problem).
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Oct 22nd, 2017, 04:36 PM
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Jpatel, you wrote:

"12: leave early AM and head toward Wanaka- no agenda. Hoping to stay the night closer to (if not in) Pukaki area.
13: Lake Pukaki area/ Tekapo (open to input here on similarities/differences between the two) and end the night in Christchurch.
14: Flying out at 9AM."

"Mt. Cook is included on the 13th."

It'll be about a 3.5 hour drive without stops from Queenstown to Mt. Cook village. But you'll probably stop a bit in Wanaka, in Lindis Pass, maybe at High Country Salmon near Twizel, to have a look at the fish farm. So your drive will probably take at least an hour longer.

Lake Tekapo is about 1 hour 15 minutes north of Mt. Cook village, so you wouldn't want to drive back on the 13th to walk in Mt. Cook, best to do this before you go to Lake Tekapo. Expect the 12th to be a long day (if you stop to walk in Mt. Cook before heading to Tekapo). Here's a link to a brochure for Mt. Cook walking tracks:
http://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/par...ki-mt-cook.pdf
To walk the Hooker Valley track, it's best to drive to White Horse Hill campground and start walking from there. It takes about 3 hours roundtrip/return, more or less, depending how fast you walk, how many photos you stop to take, and how long you spend looking at the glacier lake.

There aren't that many places to stay around Lake Pukaki itself. Check Book a Bach or Holiday Homes NZ. Lake Pukaki has a scenic lookout and visitor centre located close to the turnoff from the main highway SH8 to Mt. Cook Road (SH80). The Mt. Cook Road drive takes about 45 minutes and offers many beautiful places to stop, with a top stop along this road being Peter's Lookout. You can read about this drive here:
http://www.newzealandtravelinsider.c...ew-zealand.htm

Twizel is a small town with accommodation, shops, restaurants, tourism info office, about a 10 minute drive south of Lake Pukaki. Mt. Cook village has limited accommodation that sells out fast. There's also Glentanner Park which is about halfway on Mt. Cook Road (SH80). Accommodation at popular Lake Tekapo can also somewhat limited:
http://tekapotourism.co.nz/accomm/index.html

Because Tekapo on the main highway, it gets busy during the day with passers-by stopping to use the toilets and take photos of the church and dog statue. In early November, the Russell Lupin, a colorful photogenic invasive weed, might be in bloom (though it might be too early). The view from its Mt. John Observatory is fantastic. The observatory offers stargazing tours at night. Tekapo Springs has hot pools by the lake.

What time do you have to check in for your 9 a.m. flight on the 14th? On the 13th, I wouldn't suggest overnighting in a place too far from Christchurch Airport.
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Oct 22nd, 2017, 04:54 PM
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Jpatel, when would you hike Pob Roy Glacier? I think you're trying to pack in too much.
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Oct 22nd, 2017, 05:20 PM
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melnq8 gave you the rental info you need. To answer your specific question to me, we didn't tell Hertz on which road we got the flat, just that it was in Wanaka. No questions asked. But it could have just been the luck of the agent that we got.

And the key to driving on washboards is to go about 40mph so that you don't go all the way down into the ruts, says the guy who got the flat.
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Oct 22nd, 2017, 06:06 PM
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I meant Rob Roy Track. Not Pob Roy!
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Oct 22nd, 2017, 09:56 PM
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I've reviewed your original post and see you do plan on staying in Christchurch on the 13th. Good to know, because these are the check-in times:
"Allow at least 40 minutes for domestic flights and 2-3 hours for international flights when checking-in. For more specific information regarding check-in, contact your airline directly."

As of now, is this what you have planned?
Nov. 12 leave Q'town, drive to Wanaka, walk Rob Roy, continue to Lake Pukaki, overnight here if possible.
Nov. 13 drive to Mt. Cook, walk Hooker Valley Track, then drive to Lake Tekapo, walk here, then drive to Christchurch via Geraldine
Nov. 14 Depart
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Oct 23rd, 2017, 03:06 PM
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Melnq8: Thanks. We probably won't drive in farther than the carpark as I foresee my husband saying definitely not! �� I'll need to go through your travel reports as well.

Diamantina: First off, wow and thank you for all the detailed info!! On the 12th:
-- Leaving QT at 8am and heading to Rob Roy (est 2 hrs)
-- Walk 10-2pm
-- Drive back to Wanaka (est 1:15 hrs)
-- Wanaka to Tekapo (est 2:30 hours)
-- Built in buffer/Misc time of 3 and half hours if we make it home by 9/9:30pm.
** Before I get shamed for the packed day, this really is how we like to travel- go go go! "We sleep when we're dead" motto. We do picnic lunches so factor in dinner time somewhere in there. Tekapo is also the only reasonably priced housing we could find thus far. Definitely prefer to stay in Twizel to break it up.

13th:
-- Leaving Tekapo at 9am and heading to Hooker Valley (est 1:15 hrs)
-- Walk 10:15-2:15pm
-- The drive from Mt. Cook to Christchurch is 4 hours
-- Again, assuming we aim to be in CC by 10pm, that's about 4 hours miscellaneous time.

We are not planning on doing both Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo unless someone tells me an incredible experience we would miss. So far it seems Pukaki will be the winner.
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