Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Australia & the Pacific
Reload this Page > South Island - New Zealand - 13 days - Feedback Please
Notices

South Island - New Zealand - 13 days - Feedback Please

Reply

Jan 29th, 2012, 01:54 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 7
South Island - New Zealand - 13 days - Feedback Please

What are your thoughts on the following? First time to NZ. My husband and I are 27. Arriving Feb 17th. Love the outdoors, beaches, hiking. Not wanting to spend a lot on food or hotels (hostels are fine).

Flying in and out of CC

Day 1 - Drive to Kaikoura
Day 2 - Drive to Picton
Day 3 - Drive to Abel Tasman
Day 4 - Abel Tasman
Day 5 - Drive to Punakaiki or Westport?
Day 6 - Franz or Fox Glacier?
Day 7 - Franz or Fox Glacier?
Day 8 - Queenstown
Day 9 - Queenstown
Day 10 - Te Anau
Day 11 - Te Anau/Milford Sound
Day 12 - ???
Day 13 - Mt Cook to Christ Church

Any advice is welcome. Thanks
cnstar33 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 29th, 2012, 06:25 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 31
I live North Island, NZ. Have lived in CHCH. You've chosen excellent locations for outdoor activities. Don't waste a valuable night in Picton. It's beautiful but just the InterIsland Ferry Port town. Buy a take away lunch at Picton then travel to lovely location for a picnic. Its a long day trip from Kaikoura to the Abel Tasman Park but a beautiful journey.

From Picton take the winding road through the Sounds - no straight roads! The vision is unreal. You'll stop often to walk up the marked tracks and take picture but try not to stop overnight, because round the corner is paradise.
Use your time at the Abel Tasman Park - it's heaven for everything outdoors. There are camp grounds close to the Park. It's a busy place in February but a large Park. You can walk into the park or use the Water Taxis up into the Park and walk out. Before you depart base, give the Park Ranger your plans; the Taxi picks up at the exact time & place. If you MISS this deadline - they send in Search and Rescue; you pay for this rescue. Heaps of choices to make once you get there. Walk, paddle - a day or several days. It's an amazing place. You could easily spend over a week in Abel Tasman Park especially if you travel right into the middle. We discovered Abel Tasman Park a few years ago; I loved the Water Taxis - VERY fast and powerful and they travel long distances. We were dropped into a little bay and picked up five hours later at another Bay. I wish we had walked back to base. There are all levels of walks. Don't forget to check IN with the local ranger, then check OUT.


Before leaving Nelson get petrol, and food for several days. You going into a beautiful wilderness. Never go walking without telling the ranger or someone you can trust your plans; IN and then OUT. Take their advice. NZ weather can change very quickly. Don't change your plan.
Drive from Abel Tasman Park to Fox in one day. There will be a shop from time to time. There is one Pub in Westport town; do the tourist stuff - its all ok.
Stay ONE night in Fox. There is a Pub and camp - good party place. Everyone stops here (this can be good or bad if you don't want to meet again) because the next part of your trip is long. Drive to Wanaka. Great place. Do a bit of fishing?

Queenstown... at least two nights, or more.
Many travellers do the long day trip from Queenstown to Milford then back to Queenstown. Te Anau... never stayed there...just passed through.

Long drive from Queenstown to CHCH - stopover at Mt Cook is good idea. Tasman Glacier at Mt Cook is worth a visit. I thought it was much better than the Fox.

Have a wonder trip!
OldKiwiGal is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 29th, 2012, 10:37 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,683
cnstar33 -

You're off to a good start. I suggest taking a look at this site to work out travel times/distances. I find it pretty accurate, but it doesn't account for stops.

http://www.aatravel.co.nz/main/td-calculator.php

I'm sorry OldKiwiGal, but I disagree with your suggestion to drive from Abel Tasman to Fox Glacier in one day - this is a 494 km drive, and won't allow cnstar33 time to enjoy the drive. Rushing through the SI is the worst thing a visitor can do IMO.

I used to feel the same way about Picton, but having spent three nights there on our last visit, I've had a change of heart. If you can spare the time, you might prefer to take a water taxi to accommodation within the Marlbrough Sounds...there are several budget options and an assortment of B&Bs, although the cost of a water taxi will run up the price a bit.

Since you like to hike, spending at least one full day in the Picton/Marlborough Sounds area will allow you time to walk a portion of the Queen Charlotte Track.

Franz and Fox Glacier are only about ~30 minutes apart, so it's just a matter of choosing which you'd prefer to stay in. Franz is a bit bigger, has more services and a larger range of accommodation, but both have their good points.
Melnq8 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jan 30th, 2012, 01:24 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 31
cnstar33 makes a good point regarding the distances. It depends on your focus - walking or sightseeing? As Aussies I figured a long distance trip might be alright, even though the roads are very scenic.
The entire region is amazing. We found the lovely cafes and museums of Picton township boring as we couldn't wait to get out into the countryside. During the road trip around the Marlborough Sounds we walked up several of the smaller tracks. The views are spectacular. We still reached Nelson at lunch time and stayed there... but we could have travelled straight to Marahau, a gateway to Abel Tasman Park. Queen Charlotte Track or Abel Tasman National Park?
Anyone done both?
OldKiwiGal is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 30th, 2012, 01:42 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,683
I've done most of both QCT and Abel Tasman OldKiwiGal.

I hear you about getting into the countryside, but there are some pretty amazing hidden gems in/around Picton. We've stayed within the sounds several times (water taxi access only), but this last trip we stayed in Waikawa, a secluded bay just north of Picton. Exploring the opposite side of the Marlbrough Sounds was a whole new experience for us and we get to the SI often.

Marahau is the gateway to the Abel Tasman, on that side of Takaka Hill anyway. Personally, I prefer the Golden Bay end, which starts at Totaranui.
Melnq8 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jan 30th, 2012, 07:31 AM
  #6
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 7
Thanks everyone. This is helpful. We do have a night at Kaikoura booked and a night at Picton, so we won't be changing that. We will spend some time on Blenheim on the way to Picton and do some wine tasting. We still are not sure if Nelson is worth a stop or just head straight to Abel area. Also, we were looking to stay two nights in Marahau, spend time in the park one day, and then one day go to Golden Bay, because we have heard how great it is, but should we stay one night in Golden Bay as well? So it sounds like from y'alls feedback that our schedule is doable? Just need to fill in the missing piece of the extra day. Not sure to use it in the Golden Bay area. We would love to find a place to stay along the beach, but find you can't do anything like that for anywhere under $150ish and just can't justify that when I knowe we could stay in a private hostel for $50! Any other random comments would be great! What is the best place to stock up on snacks/bread etc for cheaper breakfasts and lunches? Thank you times a million.

-Caroline from Dallas
cnstar33 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 30th, 2012, 12:55 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 31
Nelson is a city.
Motueka has a good sized shopping area, including Supermarket. From then on it will be 'the country store' with limited items at top price to cover transport. Everything in that part of the country will be expensive - Dec to March is their high season. Motueka is like the gateway for many bus tours to depart, so you could stay there and take a day trip up to Collingwood.


Melnq8 you have inspired me... I must go to QCT
OldKiwiGal is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 30th, 2012, 04:34 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,683
OldKiwiGal - QCT is definitely one for the bucket list

Caroline -

Blenheim is only 25 minutes from Picton, so easy enough to do one from the other or en route.

Nelson is indeed a city, albeit a small one. You could easily stop in Nelson for a few hours to explore on your drive from Picton to Marahau. Maybe have lunch, poke around town and visit a winery or two. I personally prefer the area between Nelson and Mouteka to Nelson itself. It’s a bit of an arts and crafts area with local artists, boutique wineries, fruit producers and some nice scenery in the way of rolling countryside, estuary and bays.

If it were me, I’d spend at least one full day in/around Golden Bay, which means two nights - and forgo the night in Nelson. I know of a lovely cottage high on a hill above a dairy farm in Upper Takaka, which would make a perfect base for exploring the area – it’s in the $120 a night range, depending on season. There’s at least one hostel in Golden Bay, although I’m not familiar with it -

ttp://www.bbh.co.nz/bbh_HostelSearch.aspx?bbh=detail&HostelID=199

You might also take a look at accommodation in Pohara and Collingwood – both in the Golden Bay area and near beaches. There’s an assortment of B&Bs too. If you give me an idea of max budget per night, I might be able to give you a few specific suggestions.

Takaka has a good sized grocery store, but no bakery. Motueka has at least two grocery stores, a couple of bakeries, plentiful eating establishments. As you pass through Mapua driving from Nelson to Marahau, I strongly suggest you pop into The Naked Bun Bakery in Mapua – fantastic – I routinely lust for their chocolate croissants. If you like smoked salmon, I suggest you also stop at the Mapua Smokehouse for some takeaway.

So maybe something like this:

Day 1 - Drive Christchurh to Kaikoura
Day 2 - Drive Kaikoura to Picton
Day 3 - Drive Picton to Golden Bay
Day 4 – Golden Bay
Day 5 - Drive Golden Bay to Marahau
Day 6 – Abel Tasman
Day 7 – Drive Marahau to Hokitika (via Westport and Punakaiki 4:40 w/o stops)
Day 8 - Drive Hokitika to Franz Josef/Fox Glacier (~2 hours)
Day 9 – Franz Josef/Fox Glacier
Day 10 – Drive glaciers to Queenstown(~6 hours)
Day 11 – Queenstown
Day 12 – Day trip to Milford Sound (very long day)
Day 13 – Drive Queenstown to Christchurch via Mt Cook
Melnq8 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 1st, 2012, 12:41 PM
  #9
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 7
Thank you so much. I can not tell you how beneficial this is! On the AA driving times it says queenstown to Christchurch is about 7 hours. We flight out at 4, so we might try to split that up and stop some where in between so we aren't completely exhausted. Is there anything worth seeing in Christ church?

I had already booked Day 3 and 4 in Marahau, so maybe we could go to Golden bay after that and then head down west.

Also, what is there to do in Queenstown?

THANK YOU so much! Excited for our trip (minus the flight) and can't believe how soon it will be here!
cnstar33 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 1st, 2012, 03:23 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,683
Driving QT to Christchurch on your day of departure isn't a good idea. Have you considered catching a flight from QT to Christchurch? You'd miss Mt Cook, but you'd probably have to skip it anyway if you drive since you need to be back in Christchurch for a 4 pm flight.

I moved Golden Bay and Marahau around in order to shorten your drive to Hokitika and to extend your time in Abel Tasman. Golden Bay to Hokitika is a 6.5 hour drive. Marahau to Hokitika is only 4:40.

Loads to do in QT - bungy jumping, jet boat trips, wineries, lake activities, hiking tracks, pubs, casinos, shopping...

Lots more here:

http://www.queenstownnz.co.nz/
Melnq8 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 9th, 2012, 04:51 PM
  #11
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 7
We won't take a flight, just because we already have the car rental, etc. Still need to figure things out and plan on winging it a little. Anyway to do excursions on a budget? It honestly amazes me everything people say to do (on other forums as well) and how much everything costs! Thanks
cnstar33 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 9th, 2012, 05:35 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,683
cnstar33 -

We rarely participate in commerical excursions. They are indeed expensive, as are most things in NZ these days - the cost of food and petrol alone might shock you.

You can save money by doing things yourself - avoid guided hikes, avoid things like commerical glow worm tours (you can see glow worms yourself for free), avoid trips that include transport (drive yourself to Milford and Glenorchy instead of taking a tour operator's bus, etc), visit wineries on your own (tastings are usually free, but you have to control yourself if driving!), research LOTR sites and find them on your own, that sort of thing.

The first time we visited the Marlborough Sounds we found remote lodging that we could drive to to save the cost of a water taxi. It limited us and I wouldn't do it that way again, but it worked.

I'd also suggest self-contained accommodation, which generally includes kitchen facilities and access to laundry facilities. You can save money by preparing your own meals, packing picnic lunches, etc.

Maybe pick one or two special things to do during your trip and do-it-yourself for the rest.
Melnq8 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 10th, 2012, 02:53 PM
  #13
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 7
Wonderful! Thanks so much Melnq8!
cnstar33 is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:34 PM.