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14 day South Island Self drive

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My boyfriend and I are planning a trip for February 2015. We have 14 days (I wish it was longer) to work with, and are flying into Christchurch and out of Queenstown, and renting a car for our journey! I have developed a preliminary itinerary, and after reading through some posts I think it is do-able, but it is definitely different than others I've seen posted, so I wanted to get some opinions!

We are in our late 20s and are excited to do some hiking, kayaking, and other outdoor adventures on our first trip to New Zealand.

My tentative itinerary is as follows:

Christchurch-1 night

Kaikoura-2 nights. . . we hope to kayak here as we heard wildlife is abundant!

Abel Tasman National Park -2 nights....explore beaches and sea shuttles around the north. Ive read on here Kaiteriteri is beautiful so thinking of staying there

Punakaiki-1 night.....mostly just as a stopping point because driving down to the Glacier region would be too much in a day, heard pancake rocks are beautiful and there are a few good tracks close by, but not set on this at all!

Glacier Region-2 nights

Wanaka-2 nights


Queenstown. . .2 nights

I was nervous that going all the way up to Abel Tasman would be too much driving for our short amount of time (there is no way we can extend our stay!), but we do want to see the wildlife and beaches in Kaikoura, any other route makes this city pretty far out of our way since we are pretty set on Te-Anau and Milford/Doubtful Sound as well.

Also, is it easy to find tracks to hike once youre in the country, or do you have to map out these routes before you go?

Thanks in advance, we're really looking forward to this trip and any help you can give is VERY much appreciated!!!

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    I'm going to mention a self-guided private walking tour that we did in Kaikoura which we enjoyed very much. The scenery was spectacular and we had it all to ourselves. The hosts at the farms where we stayed couldn't have been nicer. If you are going to be in Kaikoura 2 nights anyway, you might want to adjust your itinerary just a bit to do this walk.

    Kaikoura Coast Track--

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    Hi emeehan25 -

    Your driving itinerary makes complete sense, but do keep in mind that it is a lot of driving.

    For example, I recently drove from the Abel Tasman area to Punakaiki and it took us eight hours - sure, we made a few stops, but it was a very long day in the car.

    Driving distance charts don't take into account stops along the way, so allow yourself several hours more than indicated. I'd suggest that you consider each drive day exactly that, a day to drive and explore en route. I wouldn't count on seeing much of your actual destination on these drive days.

    The problem with two night stays is that they only give you one full day to explore an area. The day before and after each of your 'explore' days is a drive day so the majority of your time will be spent getting from place to place instead of exploring the places you've driven to.

    Because of this, you'll want to be fairly organized and have any activities you don't want to miss out on booked in advance, as you only have one day to work with in each area.

    <<Also, is it easy to find tracks to hike once you're in the country, or do you have to map out these routes before you go?>>

    Tracks are well marked and easy to find in NZ. If, however, you want to take a specific hike, it wouldn't hurt to map it out in advance since your time is so limited. For example, the best walks in Mt Aspiring (near Wanaka) are a good hour's drive from town, so you'll want to plan somewhat to make the most of your one day there.

    This website is an invaluable resource regarding walks in NZ:

    Kaiteriteri makes a great base for Abel Tasman, but it does get very busy in season, so you'll want to book ASAP). If you run into trouble finding accommodation, you might look into nearby Little Kaiteriteri, Riwaka and Motueka.

    One day in Abel Tasman will allow you to take a boat into the park and maybe walk a section of the track or do a walk/kayak combo...but you'll want to book this in advance of your arrival, as you won't have much time to spare once you get there.

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