Seeking Serenity on the South Island

Aug 3rd, 2018, 02:19 PM
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 2,309
Thanks for the additional color, Mel. And you too Ann and Nelsonian. I too remember all the coverage of the Canterbury quakes but there does not seem to be much on its recovery.
tripplanner001 is offline  
Aug 4th, 2018, 02:57 AM
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I'm sorry to read that, Nelsonian, but not surprised. The mental health of the survivors is not something you think of when you hear about earthquakes and other natural disasters but it is probably one of the most lasting ill-effects. I hope your brother feels more settled now he has finally moved away.

Mel, when we were in Sri Lanka several years after the Tsunami we had a similar experience with a gentleman in Galle, who sat down next to us in a cafe and showed us his photos of the aftermath which were very affecting; almost everyone had a tsunami story to tell.
annhig is offline  
Aug 11th, 2018, 07:51 PM
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Mel, we are thinking of doing the Caitlins in February next year. I should be retired by then!! However I looked up Chinese New Year and it seems to be around the 5th Feb, so will be a lot of tourists around. Do you think we would be better off moving it to March, or even later in February?
nelsonian is online now  
Aug 12th, 2018, 05:11 AM
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Hi nelsonian -

I don't know if the Chinese have discovered the Catlins yet or not. We saw them mostly around Queenstown, Wanaka, Glenorchy and the glaciers.

That's not to say they haven't - and as its a busy time of year anyway, if it were me, I'd bypass Chinese New Year altogether. I'd go in March or better yet post-Easter.

Congratulations on your upcoming retirement! Time to get out and see your beautiful country in earnest!
Melnq8 is offline  
Aug 15th, 2018, 01:59 PM
Join Date: Sep 2010
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also looking for serenity...

I read this trip report and all the comments with great interest as my husband and I are considering taking a return trip to NZ next year. We went previously in 2007 and it remains one of our fondest travel experiences. I was distressed to read that the NZ we remember will probably not still be there and it has me concerned whether we should even go. I realize you can never duplicate a similar experience, but I am afraid of spoiling the lovely memories we have. We were in the Canadian Rockies 2 years ago and had a dreadful time due to the hordes of tourists despite the gorgeous scenery. We couldn’t wait to get out of there and will never return. Could you offer advice? We planned to concentrate on the north part of the South Island since we missed that area the first time. We wanted something very low key (I think we share similar travel tastes with Melnq8) and away from the tourist hustle and bustle. We were interested in hiking, admiring scenery and touring the wineries. I hoped to find one spot that was centrally located to use as a base and make day trips from there, avoiding changing accommodations as much as possible. We originally thought we’d like to travel in March, but from reading the report and responses, I am now thinking that would be a bad idea if we want to avoid crowds. Please help! I am looking for advice on whether we should reconsider going back to NZ, a suitable time of year to travel that avoids crowds but the weather is temperate (we’re from Florida so our cold tolerance levels are lower than average) and finally some suggestions on where to stay as a base that would be conveniently located to Tasman and Queen Charlotte and wineries. Thanks in advance. I have always found this travel forum to be the best and that is because wonderful people take the time to share their experiences.
rancherswife is online now  
Aug 15th, 2018, 09:33 PM
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rancherswife, I live in Nelson and we do not have the same tourist influx as in seen down the Queenstown area of the South Island. The better weather is normally in February, but March is good also. Schools have gone back at the beginning of February, so it will be reasonably quiet from then on. As I say Chinese New Year will not have much affect this end of the island.

Melnq will be able to give your more advice as to where to stay to do the Abel Tasman, I know she likes the Upper Muter area.
nelsonian is online now  
Aug 16th, 2018, 09:12 AM
Join Date: Sep 2010
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Thanks for the encouraging response. I will not rule out a trip next March after all. I will just carefully select where to go. I would like advice on whether it is a good idea to pick one location to stay and travel out from that point, or does it make better sense to select several locations and move on every 3-4 days?
rancherswife is online now  
Aug 17th, 2018, 06:54 AM
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Hi rancherswife -

My intent was certainly not to discourage visitors from going to NZ, but rather to point out how the country has changed in the 25 years we've been visiting.

As nelsonian said, the north of the South Island isn't quite as overrun with tourists as the south, although it will still be busy in the height of summer as it's a popular spot with locals as well as the many tourists who descend on the popular Abel Tasman National Park.

If it were me, I'd hold off until late March, or better yet, until after Easter.

As for a central location in the top of the south, I have two suggestions - 1) Tasman Village/Upper Moutere/Ruby Bay make excellent bases from which to explore Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, Motueka, Kaiteriteri, and even Takaka, as well as the wine regions around Nelson, Richmond, Brightwater etc and 2) Blenheim/Riwaka/Picton (or somewhere in between) makes an excellent base from which to explore the Marlborough Sounds, Havelock and the Marlborough wine region.

Fear not, it is still possible to escape the tourist throng, but one must try a little harder to find out-of-the way places and think outside of the box.

I can help with more specific info if needed.
Melnq8 is offline  
Aug 17th, 2018, 10:38 AM
Join Date: Sep 2010
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Thank you for your candid reply. Both you and Nelsonian were very helpful and our NZ plans are back on - just for later in the year than we previously thought. I appreciate your suggestions for areas to stay. I'll do a bit of homework and if you don't mind, I'll get back with you once I have a rough idea of travel plans. I do appreciate you sharing your experience and opinions.
rancherswife is online now  
Aug 17th, 2018, 11:23 AM
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Works for me, I'll keep an eye out for your next post.
Melnq8 is offline  
Aug 21st, 2018, 02:28 AM
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I don't think February will be crowded in Nelson. Schools start back the week of Waitangi day, either just before or just after the 6th February. Some schools start the week before. Most locals will be back at work by then. They normally go camping Nelson anniversary weekend at the end of January, and some stay on until school starts back or Waitangi day on whichever comes first.
nelsonian is online now  
Aug 31st, 2018, 12:14 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
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Thrilled to log on and see your latest trip report! We're planning our third trip to NZ, and I have used your tips in planning the previous trips to our great advantage.
PJTravels is offline  
Aug 31st, 2018, 12:54 PM
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Good to see you here PJTravels - hope it helps!
Melnq8 is offline  
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