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Trip to the south Island NZ with small children - please help plan itinerary

Trip to the south Island NZ with small children - please help plan itinerary

Oct 31st, 2007, 03:19 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 103
Trip to the south Island NZ with small children - please help plan itinerary

Dear all,

We are a family of four (2 adults and 2 children ages 7.5 and 3.5). We are booked to spend christmas holidays in NZ for 8-9 days and will land into Christchurch. My husband and I have travelled to NZ many years ago and in the south island have visited Christchurch, Hanmer springs and Lake Takepo(sp?) as day trips from Christchrch. We loved the natural beauty and the friednly people of NZ and are looking forward to taking the family. I have been reading some trip reports but it seems that all are very packed with long day trips, glacier and fjord visits and everyone seems to be wet a lot . I have also read that a train ride from Christchurch is very scenic and that Queenstown is better town as a base than Dunedin.

Given the limited time we have and the ages of our kids and the fact that they do not like to sit in the car for very long day trips, I am desperately in need of suggestions of where to go and also about places to stay at. Places that include dinner /have a restaurant are better for us. Our budget is about USD 400 per night.

Thanks you in advance for any advice you may have to help me kickstart my planning.

Deepa in Singapore
DeepaSingapore is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 04:00 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,392
Hi Deepa -

Queenstown is a good base from which to make day trips and there's plenty in the area to keep your family busy without having to drive too far.

Puzzling World in Wanaka seems a popular spot for the kids, although it's about a 90 minute drive from QT. Glenorchy, (Lord of the Rings country) is a 40 minute drive from QT - the Dart River Safari (and other tours) leave from there, although I've no idea if these activities are age appropriate.

Then of course you've got Milford Sound, which is more of a haul at four hours from QT, but you could always spend a few nights in Te Anau and thereby cut the drive in half.

With your limited time, and traveling with young kids, I'd suggest you just pick one or two spots and venture out from there.

If you don't want to drive from Christchurch to QT, (or Dunedin if that's what you decide on) you can fly there and back, thus spending all your time in one area.

Melnq8 is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 04:21 PM
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Thanks Melnq8 for your very useful reply. Day trips with upto an hour and half are fine. Queestown certainly seems like a good base. I think we would need another base perhaps Christchurch itself or near Christchurch because our flight is 10 hours and we would like to stay for a couple of days there before heading out some place else. I did hear of a train ride from Christchurch (Trans Alpine..?) that is about 4 hours and is quite scenic. We could then pick up a car from the destination and then drive to QT. Any thoughts on this? Also on Hotels?

DeepaSingapore is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 05:21 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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As you probably discovered on your last visit, the SI of NZ is difficult to see without driving quite a bit. That's why I suggested using Queenstown as a base - you can fly both ways and therefore avoid long drives in between.

If you opt to drive however, you'll probably want to spend at least one night in Christchurch to rest up after your flight.

The Tranzalpine is a good trip and a relaxing way to take in the scenery without having to drive. You can take the train both ways, making a long day trip ending back in Christchurch, or take the train one way and end in Greymouth.

Once you arrive in Greymouth, you can pick up a rental car and continue your drive down the West Coast, but I highly recommend you make the side trip to Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks) which is about 45 minutes north of Greymouth. This will involve doubling back to Greymouth before heading south down the West Coast, so you might want to spend a night in Punakaiki or Greymouth so the kids will be rested for the drive the following day.

You can easily drive from Greymouth to Hokitiki (30 minutes) or to Franz Josef (1:45). The drive from Franz Josef to Queenstown though, is a long one - about six hours (90 minutes less if you only drive to Wanaka). There aren't many places to stop for an overnight between the glaciers and Wanaka (Haast and Makarora are two possibilities though).

Because you only want to drive about an hour a day, it will take you forever to get to Queenstown taking the Christchurch-Greymouth-West Coast-Queenstown route. This will result in a string of one night stays and won't allow much time to actually explore and enjoy your holiday.

I don't have kids, but I'd think changing accommodation each night would be rather tiresome with young ones.

Personally, I think Queenstown, Christchurch and Dunedin all make good base cities. I realize you've spent time in the CHC area before, but there's still plenty to do there - Akaroa is definitely worth a day trip, as is Kaikoura (whale watching).
Melnq8 is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 09:05 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 39
If you are in Queenstown I would fly over to Milford.
What are the children into. Do they like the outsides and walking?
I'm from Dunedin if you want to see albatross, fur seals, penguins and sea lions we have them near by.
We also have a nice beach.
When we travel with the boys we maybe do a long day which we explain and then stay pretty much where we are.
Bosworth_Family is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 09:22 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2007
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Thanks again Melnq8 and Bosworth family. Yes, I think we might just stay in Christchirch for a 2-3 days and may just get a car and then return it there. Then take the train and hire another car. I will fit in the places you mentioned on my online Encarta Atlas to guage the driving times and then there may not be too many days left after we have explored the west coast. Perhaps we will leave Queenstown for another time.

In terms of what the kids like - since we live in a big city (Singapore), just large emply spaces with easy walking, picnics etc. are all good. We were recenlty in the Margaret River area in Oz and they loved the farm visits, sheep shearing, cave visits etc. Obvoiusly good hotel choices are important as well. Thanks again.
DeepaSingapore is offline  
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