South Island NZ Hiking Adventure

Jan 1st, 2004, 01:49 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
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South Island NZ Hiking Adventure

Anyone who can help me will be loved forever! My husband and I are traveling to So Island NZ 2 FEB - 20 FEB 04. We arrive CHC on 4 FEB. Have read a ton. We love to hike and kayak, swim. Our main focus will be hiking. We also love animals. Its been difficult to get hiking info in US. The only info we can get is for backpacking. We are taking the Routeburn trek Feb13/14. We are avid dayhikers. We can hike 10 - 20 miles in a day. Prefer the 10 - 15 mile length. Here are our thoughts. Please feel free to tell us what is not worth the time to visit. Kaikoura - whale watching, swim with seals in Abel Tasman - walk back, Marlborough Sound kayak. Has anyone hiked in Nelson Lakes Natl Park? Has anyone floated thru the Metro cave on innertube in Westport? Punakaiki hike to blowhole, hokitika - glowowrm dell, Okarito kayak, Arthur's Pass hike Avanlanche Peak and/orTemple Basin or Welcome Flat, Franz Joseph and Fox glaciers hike to Robert's Pt or take glacier walk, see Lake Matheson and glow worms, Gillespies Beach for seal colony, Mt Aspiring Natl Park - hike to Mt Aspiring Hut, visit Rob Roy glacier, see Lake Haiwa, Lake Wanaka, Mt Cook - afraid it might be too far out of the way to hike in this region - opinions? Kayak Milford or Doubtful Sound any thoughts? Is Doubtful Sound cruise very costly? Visit Penguin colony Otago Peninsula outside of Dunedin. We fly out of Queenstown around 11 AM on the 20th to Auckland- have a 5 hour lay over in Auckland - anything we should check out while we are there?

Thanks to any Fodorite who can lend their wisdom to our wonderful problem. So many things to do, not enough time.
lovetohike is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 09:52 PM
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We've done our share of hiking on the South Island, but we're more into 7-8 mile day hikes than overnighters with camping, etc (we're old!). We've hiked portions of the Abel Tasman (from both ends), the Routeburn Track, Queen Charlotte Track and the Heaphy Track. All well worth it and all special in their own way.

I'm not clear on what you have in mind - do you want to walk the entire length of each track, staying overnight in huts, or are you looking for long day hikes?

We've also taken a hike on Fox Glacier, seen Lake Matheson and hiked to Gillespies Beach, although we never did find the seal colony.

Yes, the overnight on Doubtful sound is expensive - NZ $190 per person. I've heard wonderful things about this cruise, so if time allows, weather is good and the cost doesn't deter you, I'd suggest you go for it.

You mention you're going to walk the Routeburn track in two days (?) The track is listed in my Lonely Planet as a 3-4 day walk and advance bookings are required from November-April. The track is 39 km (25 miles).
Melnq8 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 09:59 PM
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Correction: The cost of the Doubtful Sound overnight cruise ranges from NZ $275-690 (275.00 for quad share, 395.00 for twin share and $690 for sole occupancy). The NZ $190 I gave earlier is for the Wilderness cruise, which consists of a three hour cruise plus a Lake Manapouri cruise, visit to Manapouri Power Station, and coach over Wilmot pass.

Prices given are for RealJourneys and are current as of September 2003.

Sorry for the error....
Melnq8 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 10:16 PM
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Here's some more info that might help-

The Abel Tasman Coastal track is 51 km and is listed as a 3-4 day track. It begins at Marahau, about 18 km north of Motueka. Portions of the track are tidal, so you need to plan ahead.

You can also begin the track from the other end in Totaranui (near Golden Bay).

We walked portions of the track from both ends.

Because you like to walk 10-15 miles a day, you might want to consider walking a large section of the track and taking a water taxi back to where you began. Or, you can combine walking, kayaking and camping.

There are organized kayaking trips or you can take freedom trips from 1/2 day up to three days. The possibilities are endless...
Melnq8 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 11:10 PM
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I agree with Melnq8 that a good Abel Tasman walk is to take a water taxi out, then walk back along the beaches and over the headlands. From Torrent Bay campground back to Marahau is about 14km.

A hike onto either the Fox or Franz Josef Glacier is great too. Unless you are experienced at glacier travel though, you should take a guided walk.

A fine, but costly, walk is to take a helicopter to high elevation on Fox or Franz Josef. This was a highlight of our trip.

We kayaked Okarito Bay, and it was pretty good - well-protected, and fine shorebirds if you go in the morning.

The Punakaiki walk to the blowholes is very short, no more than a couple of km. Very worthwhile though!

Lake Matheson is also quite short, but pretty.

Other good walks that we liked:
'The Chasm' - a fairly short walk to a spectacular cataract, just the other side of the Homer Tunnel, on the way to Milford.
Hike to Rob Roy Glacier, in Mt. Aspiring Park, about 12 km.
Hooker Glacier Lake, in Mt. Cook Park, about 10km.
Ben Lomond Track, off the top of the Queenstown Skyline Gondola, about 7km.

The best S Island longish-dayhikes can be found at Mt. Cook, Wanaka, and Queenstown.

Another fun kayak thing to do is rent one on the Porarari River, just north of Punakaiki. You can paddle a short way upriver, haul your kayak around some fun riffles and shutes, then run back down through them.
ALF is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2004, 01:26 PM
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We have just returned (yesterday) from a month long trip (3wks in South Island) so can help you with a few bits.
My boyfriend is a mountaineer and climber and I am a reasonably fit hiker (tramper in NZ terms).

Trails - we loved the Kepler Trail - 67km advised in books over four days but easily done in three. In fact on all the hiking times given in books and on the excellent signs posted on all trails we did all the walking in two thirds of the time stated easily. The Routeburn is shorter so I would have no worries about you doing it quicker than guidebooks state.
There are three mountain huts on the Kepler but we only stayed in two as the third is not really necessary. The huts were all excellent.
Our main advice is take the best insect repellent you can because the sandflies are biting nightmares. Buy it locally and also anti-histamine cream or tablets (or both!).

Avalanche Peak is great. A bit of snow but Paul did it wearing trail shoes. Again completed in two thirds of the recommended time. Leave early to avoid crowds.

Kayaking - whatever you do - DO NOT kayak at Milford Sound, drive up and on the way hike to Marion Lake - beautiful.
If you do want to take a Milford boat trip advice is to avoid certain times 1pm I think when the tour buses reach there and the boats are busiest.
The whole point of kayaking is to enjoy the fantastic scenery in peace and quiet with lapping water. At Milford you will have a plethora of tourist boats passing by you and only hear their commentary on the loud speakers. Doubtful Sound is much much quieter and we saw penguins.
We kayaked in Doubtful Sound with Adventure Kayak and Cruise based in Manapouri ( NZ$169 for the day trip. We only booked a couple of days in advance but would recommend booking earlier. The only reason we got on was that they decided to put on an extra trip that day otherwsie we would have missed out.

Kaikoura whale watching - a MUST DO. Again book before you get there - a couple of days before should be OK.

Glaciers - If you have never seen a glacier then it may be worth a trip. Paul has been on a few but I have not. Our feelings would be that if you really wanted to do it then a heli hike would be the way to go but it is quite pricey. The glaciers have receded a huge amount and on the day walks you would probably only see the dirty terminal wall. Others who have done this may offer more opinions on this.

Seal colonies - are everywhere. North of Kaikoura on the main road is the biggest one we saw. There is a seal colony at Westport (Cape Foulwind) which was really good. Bonus was a beautifully situated cafe (Bay House Cafe & Restaurant) Beach Road, Taringa Bay.

We did drive out along the Otago Peninsula (not that scenic). Penguin colony did not open until later in the day so did not bother waiting and wished we hadn't bothered at all.

Mount Aspiring. We did not do this hike but did drive some way along the road out of Wanaka, past Glendhu Bay, towards Mt Aspiring. We had hired a 4WD for the South Island but did not feel terribly happy driving along this particular unsealed road (the car felt like it was shaking to pieces) so you may want to check out where the walk starts from. It is most probably fine but with a hire car you always worry more. Again others may have more advice on that.

Auckland - Skytower was excellent - NZ$15 plus extra NZ$3 to get to the higher section.
Ponsonby Road and Parnell nothing special so if you don't have much time I would stay in the centre.

Hope this helps.

Happy to answer any other questions you may have once you are more established on your rough schedule.

By the way, we camped so if you have questions about that - let us know.

Have a fantastic trip

blueskies is offline  
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