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hurrygirl Sep 25th, 2016 05:13 PM

South Island versus North Island NZ
We are 59 year old very active Canadians going to NZ from Australia on Nov.9 for 4 weeks. We arrive n Auckland and fly the next day to Queenstown and the next day do a guided hike of Milford Sound for 5 days( cannot carry my own pack due to recent ski injury so can't do unguided).Then fly to Christchurch where we have a camper van booked for 11 days. We plan to go to Abel Tasman Park to kayak and hike. We plan to drive to Banks Peninsula, Otago and Mt. Cook. We are avoiding the glacier areas as we have experienced a lot in other countries and feel we have to pick and choose.

Now we are wondering if we should spend more time on South Island , then fly to Aucklamd for our return trip to Canada OR should we rent a car in Christchurch , drive to Picton and take ferry to Wellington , spend a day/ overnight there then do day hike in Tongariro , then Waitomo Caves , back to Auckland and back to Canada. We are not interested in seeing Aucklland or the thrill seeking experiences in Queenstown.
Any advice ?

tasmangirl Sep 25th, 2016 06:28 PM

I'd stay in the South Island. Abel Tasman National Park is a lovely spot and Mt Cook worth seeing as well.
Look at it this way - for the North Island (TAC and Waitomo)you have to drive long distances in fairly boring countryside to get to these two places as they are right in the middle of the North Island. Waitomo to Auckland is not that exciting either buy you could stop in Hamilton.
For your time and energy you will see more in the South.
Where are you going in Otago?
Mt Cook is in the opposite direction from Abel Tasman so have you got a route planned out that avoids backtracking?
Campervans are slower on the roads here.

tasmangirl Sep 25th, 2016 06:34 PM

Ooops did not edit.. that was 'but' not buy in relation to Hamilton.
I've just read your Australian post and see you will be in New Zealand in early November. The TAC will only just be out of the winter season on Oct 31 (meaning you need to be an experienced fit tramper with all the gear to walk it in the winter. We have had a late cold winter here so it would be a shame to drive all the way and not be able to walk it.

michelhuebeli Sep 25th, 2016 09:09 PM

My last two trips to NZ were spent entirely on the North Island, and since you have to get back to Auckland, I would recommend getting to Wellington and visiting Te Papa (a must - see

Then get a car for a one-way drop-off to Auckland (very common and therefore no big deal), make your way to the wine country of Hastings and the architecturally remarkable town of Napier (go up on the Bluff Hill lookout).

The next short trip gets you to Taupo. Read up on Taupo, its lovely location on the lake, the thermal pools and such ( in its environs, it’s a great place worth a few days if you have them.

The Waitomo caves are two hours away, then another two hours get you to Rotorua.

Rotorua stinks of sulphur, but for a few hours you can try to ignore that and visit the fabulous museum in a former bath house/guest house, an impressive building full of very interesting exhibits. See

Then it’s 3 hours to Auckland, via Hamilton.

hurrygirl Sep 26th, 2016 06:31 AM

Thanks Tasmangirl. We would not get to North Island until late Nov. so we were hoping the TAC would be better by then. We are not sold on doing it. Not totally sure where we are going in Otago - still planning details. Any suggestions? We will pay attention to our route to try to avoid backtracking, thanks. If you have suggestions, we would be thrilled.

Thanks for your advice on North Island.

Melnq8 Sep 26th, 2016 07:47 AM

I'm not following why you'd fly from QT to Christchurch to rent a camper van, and then backtrack to Otago and Mt Cook?

Can you collect your camper van in Queenstown? This would make more logistic sense.

If not, you have plenty to fill 11 days just by heading north of Christchurch- Akaroa, Kaikoura, Picton, Abel Tasman area...

<<Now we are wondering if we should spend more time on South Island>>


FWIW, there's a whole lot more to QT than thrill seeking experiences. Fantastic tracks. Don't miss Glenorchy.

hurrygirl Sep 26th, 2016 05:55 PM

The drop off charge for the camper van was far greater than the airfare so this why we planned it that way. Thanks.

tasmangirl Sep 26th, 2016 11:47 PM

What about a top of the South Island loop? From Christchurch head to Hamner Springs and up to Nelson through the Lewis Pass.
The Nelson Lakes are lovely (but sandfly paradise!)and worth a look.
After your ATNP head to Blenheim/Picton for wine and walks, down the coast to Kaikoura and back to Christchurch.
Do the Banks Peninsula bit before you leave or return a day earlier and do it then.
If you add in Mt Cook there's no way around backtracking from Christchurch. Allow 3 days for this.

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