Queenstown vs Christchurch

Oct 11th, 2017, 04:32 PM
  #1  
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Queenstown vs Christchurch

Hi Fodorites!
So here's the question. We are ending a trip in the South Island with a Milford Sound tour and will be back to Te Anau about 12:30PM. Had planned on driving that day to Tekapo, 5 hours or more, spending a night and then on to Christchurch, 3 hours, to catch a plane to Auckland the next day. Are we crazy?
Won't see much of Christchurch and I'm wondering if I should should go to Queenstown for a couple of nights and fly to Auckland from there. What do you think? As always I value all input.
Tdiddy

I know we are going to miss Mt. Cook
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Oct 11th, 2017, 05:56 PM
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Is this your only chance to see Queenstown--after the trip to Milford Sound? If so, I'd recommend the latter...go to Queenstown for couple nights. I flew from Queenstown's small airport to Auckland. Easy. And--with all due respect to C'church, a lovely town== Queenstown's lake and mountain scenery setting is much more of the "do not miss" level. If you have a free morning/afternoon before your flight out ( assuming you fly from Queenstown) take a boat trip across the lake to one of the farms.
CaliNurse is offline  
Oct 11th, 2017, 08:53 PM
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I agree with CaliNurse, fly to Auckland from Queenstown.
Diamantina is offline  
Oct 11th, 2017, 09:57 PM
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We are staying in Wanaka for a couple of nights so may have a chance to visit Queenstown but I wouldn't mind spending a night or two there. Glad to hear that Q'town has an easy airport. Does anyone have an opinion about staying in Te Anau for a night before driving to Milford Sound, so we can take our time driving up to Milford. We are thinking of doing an overnite cruise which I believe leaves at 3:30PM from the Sound.
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Oct 11th, 2017, 10:48 PM
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Go for Queenstown. It has more of the tourist 'wow' factor and you will enjoy looking around. I love the Earnslaw (only operating steamship in the Southern Hemisphere)steaming across the lake to Walter Peak. The gondola trip offers a superb view of Queenstown and you can have lunch up there or do something more energetic like the luge.
If you have a spare night then stay in Te Anau. It's a beautiful part of NZ and worth a bit of time.
tasmangirl is offline  
Oct 12th, 2017, 05:31 AM
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I agree with the others that Queenstown makes sense, but it would be helpful to know your entire itinerary.

I highly recommend spending a night (or two) in Te Anau before Milford - that way you can take your time getting to Milford the next day, stopping as you see fit to walk the tracks, etc. Otherwise, that day will be all about driving and leave little time for exploring.
Melnq8 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2017, 08:15 AM
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As it stands, we will be leaving from Wanaka about 10AM, we will have been there for 5 days because we are staying at a timeshare. (We had this discussion about 5 months ago!). We will be able to take day trips to Queenstown and Arrowtown before our trip to Milford Sound. So what I am currently planning is to leave Wanaka and go to either Queenstown or Te Anau and then drive up to Milford Sound to board the overnite. If there isn't a ton of stuff to do in Te Anau, we could stop at Queenstown for lunch etc. After the overnite which gets back to Milford around 9AM the next morning, I would drive back to Queenstown and have a day and a half there. We will fly out the next morning. Jetstar has a good price but only one flight that suits our time. Does anyone have experience with Jetstar?
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2017, 10:29 AM
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Te Anau then - plenty of places for lunch and lots of walking options, etc in the Te Anau area

I've flown Jetstar within Australia and I'd certainly do so again.
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Oct 12th, 2017, 10:51 AM
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Te Anau is a perfect low-key overnight stop before driving up to Milford Sound to get the overnight boat (which I also did).

At Te Anau, do the lovely quick boat trip across the lake, and then take the rowboat into the glow worm caves.When it gets pitch black and quiet, look up at the "ceiling" of the cave.

If you have time for a walk, you can enter the Kepler track via a wooden suspension bridge on the outskirts of Te Anau.

I flew Jetstar on the flight between Queenstown and Auckland, and like Melnq8, I'd se the airline again. It was fine, left on time, and was comfortable for the brief flight, although a Kiwi friend said the airline had a bad reputation. But DO book asap--the longer you wait the higher the prices, as with so many airlines. Are you transferring at Auckland for an international flight? You will change terminals.

There's a great gift shop/cafe on the road between Te Anau and Milford. If interested, let me know here; I'll look back at photos and send its name.
CaliNurse is offline  
Oct 13th, 2017, 12:06 PM
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CaliNurse -

Would you mind sharing the name of the gift shop/cafe between Te Anau and Milford and where exactly its located?
Melnq8 is offline  
Oct 13th, 2017, 07:23 PM
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Sure, Melnq8. It's called Bracken Hall, in the village of Mossburn. We stopped between Te Anau to Milford, and then the next day between Milford and Queenstown.
Its website: http://www.brackenhall.co.nz You can also read tripadvisor reviews (including mine )
Wifi is available there. I had to call back to the USA but had been having difficulty finding "connectivity"-- so a relief to find a place for it.
The hot drinks and snacks were good and we had fun browsing the gifts area.

Tdiddy12, speaking of snacks/ food, there's a hamburger place in Wanaka called Red Star, up the hill away from the lake (i guess most of the town is!). Delicious burgers and casual atmosphere with outdoor terrace and tables.

And IF you prefer a quieter village atmosphere to the busyness of Queenstown, about a 20 minute drive from Queenstown center, there's Arrowtown. We stayed there instead of in Queenstown, but drove to Queenstown for the sites. However, after 5 days in Wanaka, you may be craving a bit more in terms of city crowds and tourist activities!
CaliNurse is offline  
Oct 14th, 2017, 05:02 AM
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CaliNurse -

I thought you might have been referring to Five Rivers Cafe, a place we always stop for a flat white between Queenstown and Te Anau, but it's not the same place. I shall add Bracken Hall to my list for our trip in May.
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Oct 14th, 2017, 10:10 AM
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OK! Now the next big question for everyone. We've decided to stay in Te Anau. Thanks for the input. So do we drive to Milford Sound? We will have a car, it's cheaper than taking the Bus-Cruise-Bus option and we can leave earlier than the Bus which leaves Te Anau at 12:30PM for a 3:30PM Cruise departure. I've looked at videos and it seems like the first part is pretty flat and leaving early from Te Anau gives us extra time to stop on the way up to Milford Sound. Opinions?

By the way CaliNurse, we booked our flight on Jetstar!
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Oct 14th, 2017, 11:20 AM
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I would absolutely drive.

Make a day of it - leave Te Anau early and head directly to Milford, take an early cruise before the buses arrive (around 11 am), then take your time exploring the overlooks and tracks on the return to Te Anau.

Or, do your exploring on the drive in, then take a late cruise and return to Te Anau in time for dinner.

Either way, you'll miss most of the bus traffic.
Melnq8 is offline  
Oct 14th, 2017, 04:30 PM
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I had a look at your original posting.
http://www.fodors.com/community/aust...uggestions.cfm
You mentioned, "We are not big trekkers, will do moderate hikes."
I'll re-suggest this: if you're planning on doing the overnight cruise on Milford Sound, you'll be returning to the dock at around 9 a.m. This would give you enough time to do the Key Summit Track on the way back to Te Anau. It's considered one of the most scenic day hikes in New Zealand. The first part is uphill, but the track is in good condition. The views from the top are fantastic. It's 3-hour roundtrip walk.
http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-rec...-summit-track/

Mirror Lakes and The Chasm are very short, easy walks along Milford Road that also offer lovely views. http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-rec...or-lakes-walk/
http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-rec...he-chasm-walk/

Here are those Milford Road links again:
https://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/sh94-milford-road/
http://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/par...-factsheet.pdf
http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-rec...s-for-drivers/
Diamantina is offline  
Oct 15th, 2017, 08:16 AM
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Thanks for looking back, Diamantina. We've really nailed down our itinerary due to all of the help on the forum. Great idea about hitting walks on the way back. Is there much to do in the actual Milford area once you reach the end of the road?
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Oct 15th, 2017, 10:18 AM
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<>

No. Just the boat terminal, a cafe and a very short walk around the waterfront. And the cruises of course.
Melnq8 is offline  
Oct 15th, 2017, 02:56 PM
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Not to mention chance encounters with sandflies.
Diamantina is offline  
Oct 17th, 2017, 03:36 PM
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I recall virtually nothing of interest in the immediate area where you board the boat, except what Melnq8 mentions. Also, --apologies for not recalling exact details--but we had to park in two different areas, as the parking adjacent to the overnight boat departure didnt open until closer to the early evening departure tine.

Re: activities after leaving the ship next morning: Unless I misunderstood, you are not returning to Te Anau that day, but going on to Queenstown.
With in minimal necessary stops, that will take most of a day.

Make sure your car's petrol tank is full for the drive from Te Anau to Milford, and for the trip the next day.
CaliNurse is offline  
Oct 17th, 2017, 03:52 PM
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Tdiddy, sorry, I'm having trouble keeping track of your changing itinerary. I thought you were spending the night after your Milford Sound overnight trip in Te Anau. I've done the Milford Sound overnight trip twice, and found it much easier to spend the night in Te Anau after the trip. This way, we could take our time with activities on Milford Road, with no worries about rushing back.
Diamantina is offline  

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