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Urgent help on 12 Nights South Island Itinerary

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First of all, we'd like to thank you Annhig & Melnq8 for their valuable comments. We've came out with a tentative itinerary. However , we've doubts and would desperately need experienced travelers or locals to help us. Below is our itinerary:

26 Nov Land about 12 am in CHR (.overnight flight from Malaysia and transit in
Singapore & Sydney ) Stay at Dorset House

27 Nov Explore Christchurch and buy groceries. Stay at Dorset House

28 Nov Christchurch ( Day tour to Banks Peninsular and Akaroa )???

29 Nov Mt. Cook ( Hire a car and lunch at Lake Tekapo & Visit Mt. John Observatory on
the way). Stay in Glentanner Park

30 Nov Mt. Cook (Glazier Explorers Tour) Stay in Glentanner Park

1 Dec . Wanaka (Mt. Iron walk)

2 Dec Wanaka (scenic flight/ Jet Boating, Bicycle riding )

3 Dec Wanaka ???

4 Dec Te Anau ( Explore and short walks)

5 Dec Te Anau ( The Chasm and Mirror Lakes Walk, Mildford sound cruise, Key Summit
if good weather & still fit )

6 Dec Queenstown ( Glenorchy Lagoon Boardwalk , Moke lake )

7 Dec Queenstown ( bicycle riding and short walks)
8 Dec Queenstown. Return the car ???
9. Dec Early flight from Queenstown

Our Questions are:
(A) If we rent a car to Akaroa, spend a night day. The next day straight drive to
Glentanner Park (Mt. Cook) . Is it better ? The reason is we're
the type who like to stop at scenic places and admire the beauty of the nature
before we continue our journey . Another reason is we think we might save some
money for other outdoor activities.
(B) Should we change the 2 nights Te Anau to 6 & 7 Dec so that we can return the car
on 5 Dec . We 'll take the Milford sound cruise and there'll a transport back to

(C) With 3 days in Queenstown ? Where should we stay? Is it the last day , we must
stay in Queenstown as we have to catch the 9 am flight? The other 2 nights , should
we stay at Cromwell, Frankton or Glenorchy? We don't like too touristy town and we
love scenic nature places.

(D) Any must go places in Queenstown or Wanaka to fill up our third day?

We would love to get advise from you all. Thank you .

  • Report Abuse

    I'm with marg on this one - spend that night in Akaroa and head to Mount Cook on Nov 29 from there. It's about a 5.5 hour drive, so I strongly suggest you get an early start so you'll have time to explore Lake Tekapo en route.

    If you leave Christchurch early on Nov 28, you should have sufficient time to take a harbor cruise in Akaroa and perhaps do a bit of exploring on your own. If you're interested in penguins, you might want to look into taking an evening tour with Pohatu Penguins (great operator, we did this years ago and may do it again on an upcoming trip).

    <<<Should we change the 2 nights Te Anau to 6 & 7 Dec so that we can return the car on 5 Dec . We 'll take the Milford sound cruise and there'll a transport back to Queenstown>>>.

    I wouldn't. Taking the very long 13+ hour bus trip from QT to Milford and back is a bit of an ordeal. You will stop in Te Anau for a break and then make stops at Mirror Lakes and the Chasm, but you'll miss the opportunity to walk to Key Summit.

    Staying in Te Anau for two nights gives you one full day to explore the walks along Milford Road and take a cruise on your own schedule. If you get an early start, you'll be ahead of the bus traffic from QT. I suggest you either get to Milford Sound early, take a cruise before the bus hoards get there and then slowly work your way back to Te Anau, stopping and walking as you see fit. Alternatively, you might get an early start, do the walks first and then take a late afternoon cruise before heading back to Te Anau.

    Either of the above will get you there outside the busy bus traffic, and will afford you the flexibility to do as you wish, and thereby fit in a lot more than you can on a bus tour.

    If you're uncomfortable about driving to Milford yourself (and there's no reason to be in late November), you could always stay in Te Anau for two nights and join the tour from QT as they stop in Te Anau on their way to Milford. This will cut the travel time down by over four hours. You'd still need a car in Te Anau though, so why not just drive yourself to Milford and do your own thing?

    If it were me, I'd keep the car the whole time and return it at the QT airport on day of departure. If you return it the day before, you'll have to get transport to the airport, and I fail to see the logic of this.

    <<<With 3 days in Queenstown ? Where should we stay? Is it the last day , we must stay in Queenstown as we have to catch the 9 am flight? The other 2 nights , should we stay at Cromwell, Frankton or Glenorchy? We don't like too touristy town and we love scenic nature places.>>>

    There's absolutely loads to do in/around QT and I personally prefer to stay for three nights in a given spot vs. switching accommodation frequently. You will not run out of things to do I promise. If QT doesn't appeal to you, I'd suggest perhaps Arrowtown, which is less busy, but still a short drive to all the activities/restaurants of QT.

    Frankton is basically an extension of QT, but it's closer to the airport. I wouldn't stay there, it's at a busy crossroad and rather noisy. You can get from just about anywhere in QT to the airport in 20 minutes or so, no worries there. It's about the same distance from Arrowtown to the airport as it's on that side of town.

    I suggest you visit Cromwell from Wanaka. No need to stay there unless you're a big wine drinker and enjoy Pinot Noir. There's not a whole lot on offer in Cromwell. It's the type of place you can easily visit on the way to somewhere else.

    I personally love Glenorchy, but it's not for everyone. It's the exact opposite of QT - it's a tiny settlement with not much to do unless you like to hike.

    As for must dos in QT and Wanaka, remind me what you like to do and who is in your party (kids?). Are you walkers?

  • Report Abuse

    I just looked at your original post and see that you are four women traveling together and that you enjoy walking.

    So a few ideas for Wanaka and QT:

    Wanaka -

    If the weather is nice, I strongly recommend you drive out to
    Matukituki Valley Road and head towards Diamond Lake, some 12 km from Wanaka. Here you'll find the Diamond Lake Track/Lake Wanaka Viewpoint. The views of the lake and its islands are nothing less than spectacular on a clear day (the walk is two hours return).

    From here I suggest you continue driving west on Matukituki Valley Road to soak up more of the fantastic scenery. If you're feeling really energetic the Rob Roy Glacier walk and other trails start from the Raspberry Flat carpark. Be aware that this is an unsealed road with many fords, but the fords should be dry in November, unless there's been a lot of rain.

    On your way in from Wanaka, you'll pass Glendhu Bay, a beautiful spot for a picnic.

    Other tracks in/around Wanaka:

    The Outlet Track, an easy path that follows the Clutha River from its start at Lake Wanaka to the Hikuwai Reserve in Albert Town. This section is world-renowned for its trout fishing (gentle walk to Albert Town and return, six km, 90 minutes, shared path, lots of bikers).

    Queenstown -

    Mt Crichton Loop, located on Glenorchy Road, 10 km from Queenstown. The track passes through mountain beech and manuka, and leads to the historic Sam Summers Hut and connects to Lake Dispute Walkway. The views from the top are wonderful (yep, it’s uphill, 2:45, 4.36 miles).

    Glenorchy - reached from QT in about 40 minutes - there are some wonderful tracks here, but even if you just drive there and back it's well worth the effort - the scenery is spectacular.

    I highly recommend the Dart River Jet Boat Safari, which leaves from Glenorchy (they also provide transport from QT).

    Watching the (or participating in) Bungy Jumping on the outskirts of QT, wineries, water activities, adventure much to see and do.

  • Report Abuse

    Thank you Marg & Melnq8 for the detailed information. I have to print them out and really study on them. Sorry for the typo it should be CHC and not CHR. It hope it did not confuse you.

  • Report Abuse

    What Marg & Melnq8 said.

    really nothing to add except have a good trip!

    but as a PS, as there are 4 of you, i would see if you can book the apartment at the B&B in Wanaka where we stayed -

    very comfortable and spacious, well-equipped, and the hosts are very friendly and will help you plan/book your activities while you are there.

    in QT, the apartments at are right on the lake, again very comfortable and well-equipped, and [in good weather] are within walking distance of the town. we only had a one bedroomed apartment but I'm sure that the 2 beds would have been just as good.

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