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Seeking advice on 14 night road trip! Thank you in advance!

Seeking advice on 14 night road trip! Thank you in advance!

Old Jun 16th, 2024, 09:29 AM
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Seeking advice on 14 night road trip! Thank you in advance!



Hi all



First time visitor to New Zealand this October. Iím hearing spring is a nice time to be there, and hopefully it isnít too wet. Ideally would have liked to be there later in the year but timing wise, this is really the best for us.



We are planning a 2 week drive with a toddler (below 2 years), so we donít want to keep it too intense but donít want to miss out of all of the highlights a well. We will have 14 nights in the South Island ó where we fly into Christchurch, and will fly out of, ending the trip with 2 nights in Auckland (for food/shopping/city life).



The plan is to drive the entire trip while staying at hotels or air b&bs -- so 1 room for 2 adults and a toddler.



We plan to bring/carry the toddler while on hikes and we would like to involve some hiking but nothing super intense of streneous.



I have a few questions on my itinerary, where I am quite unsure how to plan for the most efficient schedule and hope i could leverage on some expert advice from those here who have done it before.



Here is a rough outline of my itinerary thus far:



Day 1 - Christchurch - Land Chirstchurch around noon, take it easy/explore city/visit Orana wildlife park/shopping



Day 2 - Twizel/Lake Tekapo - 3 hours drive from morning ó We head off for Lake Tekapo (but also considering this city called Twizel that would be inbetween Lake Tekapo and Wanaka; also heard it is cheaper there?)



Day 3 - Twizel/Lake Tekapo - Church of Good Shepard/hot springs



Day 4 - Twizel/Lake Tekapo - Mount Cook/Lake Pukaki



Day 5 - Wanaka ó Drive Lake Tekapo to Lake Ruataniwha, Ruataniwah to Lindis Pass Viewpoint, then end up at Wanaka for dinner



Day 6 - Wanaka - Explore city? Take it easy?



Day 7 - Queenstown - Drive from Wanaka to Queenstown in morning (70 mins)



Day 8 - Queenstown - Glenorchy Day Trip



Day 9 - Queenstown - Te Anau (Day TripÖ?)



Day 10 - Queenstown - Milford Sound (Day Trip?)



Day 11 - Fox Glacier - Take break at Wanaka? Should I visit Wanaka on the way up instead then since Iím going to pass it.



Day 12 - Franz Joseph - Is this place toddler friendly if I skip the helicopter flight?



Day 13 - Franz Joseph - Glacier Hike/Sentinel Rockwalk/Peterís pool



Day 14 - Christchurch



Day 15 - Fly to Auckland



Questions:

1) How do people usually do Lake Tekapo area efficiently along with Mount Cook? I guess that would be the next destination out of Christchurch. Do people use it as a base and do day trips to Mount Cook? What are the thoughts on Twizel as a base?



2 )Should I skip Wanaka FIRST, then come back on the way up towards the north of South Island, or visit it first to break up my drive? Just want to hear thoughts on this given it COULD possibly work both ways.



3 )The sites around the vicinity of Queenstown are not too far of a drive away, which makes sense to do day trips, but Iíve heard thoughts from people who say not to do that because it involves a lot of backtracking and its easier to do 1 nights at each spot. I want to visit Milford Sound, Te Anau, Glenorchy and other main attractions but not sure how I should structure these 3-4 nights in the most efficient manner. What would be the most sound thing to do?



4) Would you recommend taking the Milford Sound cruise as a way to spend a night back to Queenstown?



5 )Is Franz Joseph worth going while with a toddler? I heard quite a few of the activities would be off limits.



6) Happy to hear overall thoughts from people who have travelled with toddlers; whether Iím missing out on any key places or if my plans are too optimistic given I have a kid with me.



Thank you all!
nicholas2win3710 is offline  
Old Jun 16th, 2024, 12:21 PM
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Day 9 - Queenstown - Te Anau (Day Trip…?)

Day 10 - Queenstown - Milford Sound (Day Trip?)


You'll be driving the same route twice if you do this. Suggest you drive to Te Anau, spend a night or two, and then make the day trip to Milford. Keep in mind if you only spend one night in Te Anau, that you will have a four hour drive back to Queenstown from Milford, so a very long day. I highly recommend two nights in Te Anau, which will allow a leisurely day trip to Milford.

Better yet, drive from Wanaka to Te Anau, spend two nights, see Milford on your full day, and then drive to QT for your stay there after a second overnight in Te Anau.

The drive from Milford to Fox Glacier is well over eight hours, more with stops. Don't attempt this. If you drive from QT, you're looking at more like 5-6 hours with stops.

How do people usually do Lake Tekapo area efficiently along with Mount Cook? I guess that would be the next destination out of Christchurch. Do people use it as a base and do day trips to Mount Cook? What are the thoughts on Twizel as a base?

Lake Tekapo and Mt Cook can be combined in the same day...not a whole lot to see in Tekapo and it's just over an hour to Mt Cook. Many people base in Mt Cook for a few nights, others visit as a day trip from Tekapo or Twizel. Many people base in Twizel when the lodging is full in Mt Cook, as it's quite limited (and can be expensive). Note that Twizel is a town of about 1,600.

The sites around the vicinity of Queenstown are not too far of a drive away, which makes sense to do day trips, but I’ve heard thoughts from people who say not to do that because it involves a lot of backtracking and its easier to do 1 nights at each spot. I want to visit Milford Sound, Te Anau, Glenorchy and other main attractions but not sure how I should structure these 3-4 nights in the most efficient manner. What would be the most sound thing to do?

Glenorchy, Arrowtown and Cromwell are easy day trips from QT. Milford is not. Many people will make the long slog to Milford from QT by bus, but it's a very long day, and you'll be limited to a few stops on the bus route.

I much prefer spending a few nights in Te Anau and then self-driving (picking up the QT bus when it stops in Te Anau is also an option) and dedicating the whole day to Milford (Milford Road is the highlight and there are many gorgeous hikes and walks that you'll miss out on if you take the bus).

Would you recommend taking the Milford Sound cruise as a way to spend a night back to Queenstown?

I don't understand the question. Both the day cruise and the overnight leave and return to Milford.

Can't help with the toddler, but be aware that NZ involves a lot of time on the road...that's a lot of time in a car with a potentially tired and cranky toddler.

PS - don't believe the drive distance calculators - add more time.

Last edited by Melnq8; Jun 16th, 2024 at 12:31 PM.
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 02:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Melnq8
Day 9 - Queenstown - Te Anau (Day TripÖ?)

Day 10 - Queenstown - Milford Sound (Day Trip?)


You'll be driving the same route twice if you do this. Suggest you drive to Te Anau, spend a night or two, and then make the day trip to Milford. Keep in mind if you only spend one night in Te Anau, that you will have a four hour drive back to Queenstown from Milford, so a very long day. I highly recommend two nights in Te Anau, which will allow a leisurely day trip to Milford.

Better yet, drive from Wanaka to Te Anau, spend two nights, see Milford on your full day, and then drive to QT for your stay there after a second overnight in Te Anau.

The drive from Milford to Fox Glacier is well over eight hours, more with stops. Don't attempt this. If you drive from QT, you're looking at more like 5-6 hours with stops.

The sites around the vicinity of Queenstown are not too far of a drive away, which makes sense to do day trips, but Iíve heard thoughts from people who say not to do that because it involves a lot of backtracking and its easier to do 1 nights at each spot. I want to visit Milford Sound, Te Anau, Glenorchy and other main attractions but not sure how I should structure these 3-4 nights in the most efficient manner. What would be the most sound thing to do?

Glenorchy, Arrowtown and Cromwell are easy day trips from QT. Milford is not. Many people will make the long slog to Milford from QT by bus, but it's a very long day, and you'll be limited to a few stops on the bus route.

I much prefer spending a few nights in Te Anau and then self-driving (picking up the QT bus when it stops in Te Anau is also an option) and dedicating the whole day to Milford (Milford Road is the highlight and there are many gorgeous hikes and walks that you'll miss out on if you take the bus).


So should I drive from Twizel to Te Anau straight -- about 4 hours 30 minutes, or Twizel to QTN (2 hours 30 minutes)?

If I did it this way, is it more efficient? Or am I spending too much time in this region?
  • Day 6 - Queenstown - Day trip to Glenorchy? Can go skyline gondola at night
  • Day 7 - Queenstown - Explore town; hot springs
  • Day 8 - Te Anau - Glowworm caves; do 1 of the great walks
  • Day 9 - Te Anau - Milford Sound Day Trip (Cruise); rest when back and prepare to leave next day
  • Day 10 - Wanaka - After breakfast: drive to Wanaka from Te Anau (via Arrowtown), Wanaka Tree, Lake Wanaka, Wanaka Lavender farm, Lindis Valley
  • Day 11 - Wanaka - Drive to Franz Joseph

Originally Posted by Melnq8
How do people usually do Lake Tekapo area efficiently along with Mount Cook? I guess that would be the next destination out of Christchurch. Do people use it as a base and do day trips to Mount Cook? What are the thoughts on Twizel as a base?

Lake Tekapo and Mt Cook can be combined in the same day...not a whole lot to see in Tekapo and it's just over an hour to Mt Cook. Many people base in Mt Cook for a few nights, others visit as a day trip from Tekapo or Twizel. Many people base in Twizel when the lodging is full in Mt Cook, as it's quite limited (and can be expensive). Note that Twizel is a town of about 1,600.
So I'm thinking of this now --- from CHC (leaving at 10am) we get to Lake Tekapo (via Geraldine for lunch to break up the drive). The drive is 2 hours from CHC-Geraldine, an 1 hour from there to Lake Tekapo. That should leave us the entire afternoon for the key sights at Lake Tekapo (Lupin Fields, Church of Good Shepard, Tekapo Summit Viewpoint -- anything else notable?). Planning to spend 1 night in Mt Cook (for chance at Southern Lights) then the next 2 nights at Twizel before we head further South. So total 3 night:
  • Day 3 - Spend night in Mt Cook - breakfast; tire toddler out until 1000hrs then drive to Geraldine for lunch then head to Lake Tekapo (Lupin Fields, Church of Good Shepard, Tekapo Summit Viewpoint), drive to Mt Cook for the night (because of sunset scenery/sunrise/Southern Lights)
  • Day 4 - Spend night in Twizel - Spend day in Mt Cook area (Hooker Valley Track/Kea Point, Tasman Lake, Tasman Glacier) before heading to Twizel down to spend night
  • Day 5 - Spend night in Twizel - Lake Pukaki, Lake Ruataniwha then drive to Queenstown (QTN) for dinner (skipping Wanaka first)
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 04:13 PM
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Or am I spending too much time in this region?

Not possible.

More later.
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Old Jun 25th, 2024, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Melnq8
Or am I spending too much time in this region?

Not possible.

More later.
Do you think I should do 3 nights Queenstown, 2 nights Te Anau, 2 nights Wanaka or is that too long?
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Old Jun 25th, 2024, 02:30 PM
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Not too long at all. Your two nights at Te Anau will be taken up with a trip to Milford Sound. Plenty to do in and around Queenstown which will easily fill in that time. Wanaka is a lovely town in a great location and I'm sure you will enjoy that time there.
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