South Island Itinerary

Mar 28th, 2016, 08:03 AM
  #1  
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South Island Itinerary

Am helping my sister plan a visit to the South Island, she will be travelling with her son and daughter, 23 and 20. Their schedule is as follows:

Apr 23-26: Mother and daughter arrive CHCH from Wellington, rent car and drive to Akaroa, visit/explore the Banks peninsula
Apr 26 am: pick up son at CHCH airport, drive to Mt Cook, stay 2 nights at village
Apr 27: Mt Cook area hike
Apr 28: drive to Te Anau, stay 3 nights. Day trip to Milford Sound one day, glow worm caves and hikes.
May 1: drive to Queenstown, stay night
May 2: pm flight back to Wellington

My main concern is the drive from Mt Cook to Te Anau on Apr 28, would it be better to stay that night at Queenstown and then go to Te Anau for 3 nights? Then drive back to QT on May 2 in time to drop off the rental car and take the late afternoon flight to Wellington.

This is my first time on the Kiwi forum, hence my apologies if I sound an ingoramus! Please feel free to comment/critique my itinerary, thanks in advance for your suggestions
geetika is offline  
Mar 28th, 2016, 08:08 AM
  #2  
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Forgot to add that my niece wants to see penguins, which would be a good place for that? Milford Sound I guess, maybe even Akaroa? Thanks again!
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Mar 29th, 2016, 06:41 AM
  #3  
 
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You most certainly DO NOT sound like an ignoramus, perish the thought!

I think your itinerary looks pretty good. I too, have concerns about the drive from Mount Cook to Te Anau, which is close to 5.5 hours, w/o stops. But, it can certainly be done. I suggest you just get an early start and plan to make a full day of the drive, stopping as you see fit en route. You'll have about 11 hours of daylight to work with, so as they say, make hay while the sun is shining.

If, the drive still concerns you, and the main focus of your time in Te Anau is Milford, you might consider this:

Mount Cook to Wanaka - one night (about 2:40)

Wanaka to Te Anau - two nights (this is a three hour drive, so if you plan well, you can be in Te Anau before lunch and still have half a day to hike and visit glow worms, still leaving a full day for Milford and Milford Road)

Te Anau to QT - one night

It's certainly possible to drive from Te Anau to QT for your departing flight to Wellington - the drive from Te Anau is QT is about two hours, so can definitely be done, assuming there are no other issues, such as poor weather, road trouble, etc. Just leave yourself plenty of time.

Penguins can be seen in Akaroa - highly recommend this tour, which we took several years ago - very unique:

http://www.pohatu.co.nz/

You might also see some in Milford from the boat. The boat operators will point out any wildlife encountered during the cruise.
Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 29th, 2016, 11:57 AM
  #4  
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Thanks a ton melnq8, overnight at Wanaka sounds good and will also break up the driving time.

Any suggestions for hotels/B&Bs, nothing fancy or expensive, just a place which is neat and clean since they will be outdoors the whole day and only come to the hotel at night.

I have already contacted Pohatu and my sister and niece will be doing the 24 hour package at Flea Bay. Not sure how many penguins they'll see though as apparently this will not be quite the season. I hear there are blue penguins at the Antarctic center near CHCH airport, havre suggested they go there too.

Thanks again for your help
geetika is offline  
Mar 29th, 2016, 01:00 PM
  #5  
 
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Generally speaking, Bella Vista is a chain of inexpensive motels in NZ. I've stayed at several of their locations during my visits. Note that on my last stay at the one in QT, I found it very noisy, although convenient to town (short walk) and the gondola.

Their rooms can be a bit small, but they offer several options, including two bedroom units. They're clean, well equipped and a good budget option. If they plan to self-cater, they'll want to make sure they book a unit with sufficient cooking facilities.

As to some specific lodging I've personally stayed at in the areas they're considering:

Criterion Motel in Akaroa (good location, but a wee bit noisy, be sure to read the reviews if this is a concern)http://www.holidayakaroa.com/. Request a floor on upper level for bay views.

Mount Cook - I highly recommend the Aoraki Court Motel -
http://www.aorakicourt.co.nz/. Love this place, an inexpensive option in an expensive village. They also have two bedroom units I think.

Te Anau - I can highly recommend, The Croft, Birchwood Cottages and Amber Court Motel. Tell them not to miss Ata Whenua at the local theater, Fiordland as they'll never see it.

Wanaka - I highly recommend Clearbrook Apartments.

Queenstown - I like Villa Del Lago, although its been several years since we've stayed there (we prefer Arrowtown these days). Do be aware Villa Del Lago is on the outskirts a bit, a drive or 25 minute walk to town. Large condo-style units, some two bedroom available.

http://www.villadellago.co.nz/
Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2016, 09:15 AM
  #6  
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Melinq8, thanks ever so much, you've been a fund of information! Have already contacted several of the hotels and hope to firm up bookings within the next few days.

Any suggestions for a rental car company, or anyone to avoid? People have been recommending Apex, will let my sister handle that part as she's picky about cars.

Thanks again for all your help, I really appreciate it
geetika is offline  
Mar 30th, 2016, 11:26 AM
  #7  
 
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You're very welcome geetika, hope they have a fabulous trip.

I recommend APEX too - have rented with them on the SI for years and never had a problem.
Melnq8 is offline  
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