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Trouble Deciding on SI New Zealand Itinerary *Please Help*

Trouble Deciding on SI New Zealand Itinerary *Please Help*

Dec 4th, 2011, 04:00 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 9
Trouble Deciding on SI New Zealand Itinerary *Please Help*

Hi All,

In April my wife and I are headed for the SI of New Zealand for 2 weeks and I could really use some help deciding on an itinerary. We are flying into Wellington (taking the ferry to Picton) and flying out of Christchurch. I was pretty set on our original itinerary, however we got grief from a few Kiwi's that said we'd be disappointed if we did not to make our way up to see Abel Tasmen, Wharariki beach, and Farewell Spit areas. I know both itineraries will have a few long driving days, but I am afraid that the revised itinerary will be too much (Esp. Collinswood to Hokitika). I wish we had more time!

Revised Itinerary..............Original Itinerary
4/1 Nelson..........................Picton
4/2 Collinswood................Kaikoura
4/3 Hokitika........................Kaikoura
4/4 Wanaka........................Hokitika
4/5 Wanaka........................Wanaka
4/6 Milford Sound..............Wanaka
4/7 Milford Sound..............Milford Sound
4/8 Queenstown................Milford Sound
4/9 Queenstown................Queenstown
4/10 Queenstown................Queenstown
4/11 Mt. Cook........................Queenstown
4/12 Akaroa...........................Mt. Cook
4/13 Kaikoura.......................Akaora
4/14 Kaikoura.......................Akaora
4/15 - Fly out of Christchurch in Afternoon.

I would really appreciate any feedback on either itinerary!! Either way I know it will be an amazing trip! Cheers!
STLBarks is offline  
Dec 4th, 2011, 04:23 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,078
The sad reality is that you just can't see and do everything in so little time and you're going to have to make some hard choices. Adding Nelson and Collingwood doesn't allow you to really see Abel Tasman...Abel Tasman is accessible from Marahau on the Motueka side or from Totaranui on the Takaka side. Sure, you can see some of the Abel Tasman region as you drive from Nelson to Collingwood, but you won't see the park itself unless you go into it from the above mentioned access points.

Nelson to Collingwood is 3:10, 219 km. Once there, you'll need a full day if you plan to do the most popular activity, the 4x4 tour of Farewell Spit, which is well worth the time and effort. You can easily get to Wharariki Beach on your own, it's located between Takaka and Collingwood. You'll need at least another full day to explore the Abel Tasman Nat'l Park though if that's what you're interested in.

I'm heading out at the moment, but I'll check back with a few more suggestions later.
Melnq8 is offline  
Dec 4th, 2011, 08:01 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,078
I just noticed that you're not staying at the glaciers, which is the main attraction of the West Coast. If you're not interested in the glaciers, you could save some time by skipping the West Coast altogeher (which would be a shame, but you've no time allocated there anyway).

In which case you could do something like this:

Picton (or Abel Tasman area, which ever you decide)-Kaikoura-Akaroa-Mt Cook-Wanaka-Te Anau/Milford-Queenstown.

You could then fly back to Christchurch from QT - this will free up some time as you'd be bypassing the West Coast...

I feel about the West Coast the way your friends feel about Abel Tasman, but as you've only night allocated to it on both of your itineraries, if seems you're just looking for an overnight stop anyway. Why bother driving the extra distance if you've no interest in the area?
Melnq8 is offline  
Dec 5th, 2011, 08:05 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 9
Melnq8 - Thank you for the quick response! You are definitely right...lots of hard choices to be made. I think if we did attempt going to Farewell Spit/Wharariki beach areas we would skip Abel Tasmen or possibly just do a drive by.

We really want to see the West Coast, although seeing the glaciers isn't the most important. Would the scenic drive alone be worth it? I'd hate to cut it out of our itinerary, but it would actually give us an extra day or so to devote to Akaroa or Mt. Cook.

Is staying at Milford Sound for 2 nights too much time or just perfect? We were planning on staying at the MS Lodge Chalets and fitting in both a cruise and kayaking.

Back to the itinerary board...decisions decisions! Thanks again!
STLBarks is offline  
Dec 5th, 2011, 11:09 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,078
The West Coast is absolutely worth every single minute you can give it...as much as I like the top end of the SI, it pales in comparison to the West Coast.

Regarding Milford...think of it this way, two nights only gives you one full day, so two nights definitely isn't too much time. Having said that, I prefer staying in Te Anau, but that's just me.
Melnq8 is offline  
Dec 7th, 2011, 09:08 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 9
Well we will definitely make every attempt to see as much of the West Coast as possible. Besides the glaciers are there any other particular spots are must sees on the WC? I wanted to check out Hokitika Gorge and/or possibly Monro Beach.

Also, just last night I realized that we will be in NZ during Easter 4/8 and Good Friday 4/6. I'm a little worried that tourist attractions/restaurants/shops will be closed. Any idea of how that may affect our trip?? Most likely we'll be either in QT, Wanaka or Milford during the holidays. Thanks for your help!!!
STLBarks is offline  
Dec 7th, 2011, 12:45 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 9
Areas that rely on tourism come alive over public holidays so very few places are closed. There might be some rare individual exceptions but most attractions will be operating throughout the Easter break.
HLucy is offline  
Dec 7th, 2011, 12:50 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 9
My two bobs worth on Mount Cook, it's actually better approached from the eastern side, staying in Mount Cook village and witnessing the Tasman Glacier that flows down that side of the mountain. But that's no reason to miss the West Coast. The glaciers the flow down the western side of the mountain are more approachable, and the West Coast is a wild frontier with a warm welcome.
HLucy is offline  
Dec 7th, 2011, 02:23 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,078
Easter is very busy in NZ. Expect to pay a 10-15% surcharge on Good Friday, Easter and possibly Easter Monday at most restaurants.

Mt Cook can only be accessed from the east side, so I'm not sure what you're referring to HLucy???


Hoki Gorge and Monro Beach are definitely worthwhile, as are the Blue Pools. There's loads of walks in/around the glaciers, Haast and near Makarora. Ship Creek and Okarito Lagoon (kiwi tours at night here) are also good stops.

I have several detailed trip reports posted here on Fodor's from our many trips to the SI. If interested, just click on my name and scroll down through trip reports to access them.
Melnq8 is offline  

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