Advice needed on my 2 week South Island itinerary


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boroangel

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Apr 23, 2005
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Hi guys, after few weeks of research, have come up with a rough itinerary for 2 weeks in South Island. Time is running out for booking accomodations as I am reaching Christchurch on 30th December and flying off on 13th Jan. I need some advice so that I can tailor my iti and get down to booking my accom. Here is my plan and I included some questions along the way :

30 Dec - Reach Christchurch in the late afternoon , pick up rental car and spend rest of the day at Christchurch.

31 Dec - Drive to Lake Tekapo via Mount Hutt and Geraldine.

(1. Is this stretch too far and is it worth taking the route via Mt hutt rather than straight to Geraldine from Chc?) Do the night stargazing tour near Mount John.

1 Jan - Spend part of morning around Takapo and drive up to Mount Cook.

(2. Cant decide whether to stay the night at Mount Cook or to head back to Twizel for the night. Which is the better choice?)
(3. Is it worth it to do some tracks around Mt Cook such as the Hooker Valley track or track to Kea point? Can we do this unguided?)


2 Jan - Travel from either Mt cook or Twizel to Omarama->across Lindis Pass to Cromwell-> Queenstown.

(4. Actually in a dilemna of whether to head out to Dunedin from Twizel and then on to Te Anau or to skep this part and instead to go to Nelson in the later part of the trip. Its either choosing Omarama->Otago->Dunedin-> Te Anau or to skip this part and include Greymouth->Buller Gorge->Nelson->Kaikoura later in the trip. Not really interested in penguins and sea animals but more into stunning scenery and from what I read over here the path from Omarama->Otago->Dunedin-> Te Anau isnt that great? What are your opinions?)

3 Jan - Do a day trip to Glenorchy and back to Queenstown for the night. Jetboating at Dart River

4 Jan - Stay in Queenstown and do activities like paragliding and going up to the gondola.

5 Jan - Drive to Te Anau and stay for the night. Do the glowworm cave tours

6 Jan - go to Milford Sound and back to Te Anau for the night. Take a cruise and maybe do kayaking in Milford Sound.
(5. Is it too much of a trip to go to Milford and back for the night at Te Anau? Do not want to do the overnight cruise and there does not seem to be much accommodation in Milford Sound.)
(6. Cant decide whether to do Doubtful sound the next day but I would assume the scenery is roughly the same for both sounds?)


7 Jan - Drive to Wanaka and stay for the night.
(7.How feasible is it to track up to Mount Iron or Mouth Roy as I read it takes around 4 hrs to reach the top for a view over Wanaka?)
(8. Any suggested places to go where I can get a good view over Wanaka?)


8 Jan - Drive to Franz Josef.

9 Jan - Do half day glacier walk and drive to Hokitika or Greymouth

(9. Is it better to stay at Hokitika or Greymouth?)

10 Jan - Drive to Punakaki to see the pancake rocks, past Buller Gorge and on to Nelson

11 Jan - Drive from Nelson to Kaikoura

12 Jan - Drive from Kaikoura to Christchurch

13 Jan - Fly off from Christchurch

(10. Looking at the iti above, I wonder if I should spend more time like half a day more in Wanaka and Buller Gorge and skip certain places like the trip up to Mt Cook or skip Nelson, after Punakaki, head towards Hammer Springs and stay 1 nigh in Hammer Springs, before going to Kaikoura.)

Any comments and suggestions please?
 

megaweb

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It is good to have a schedule first and change according if necessary. After Lake Tekapo, you should visit Dunedin. A great place to see Royal Albatross and Penguin.

I dun find glowworm cave tours is nice. No photography is allowed and you see total darkness and some blinking worms.

What is your plan for meal ? Self cook ? If self cook, go to their big super market to shop for raw food and fruits. Their raw salmons is Sashmi grade.

Each time when you visit the town, go to the i-Site first. Settle the accommodation and then tour around the place.
 

boroangel

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Apr 23, 2005
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It is good to have a schedule first and change according if necessary. After Lake Tekapo, you should visit Dunedin. A great place to see Royal Albatross and Penguin.

I dun find glowworm cave tours is nice. No photography is allowed and you see total darkness and some blinking worms.

What is your plan for meal ? Self cook ? If self cook, go to their big super market to shop for raw food and fruits. Their raw salmons is Sashmi grade.

Each time when you visit the town, go to the i-Site first. Settle the accommodation and then tour around the place.
Hi megaweb, arent u the one who sent me the map o the loop around South Island u did?

Ya I was thinking i need to get the rough schedule out so I can book my accommodation in advance. Its the school holidays for Nzers so options are running out. The other activities can try to sort out later and allow some flexibility.

Thing about Otago and dunedin is....I am not tat really into seeing animals so was thinking of giving it a miss if the scenery is nothing to shout about.
 

syl

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#5
I'm no expert but how or who helped you plan your itinerary? AFAIK you can't drive to Milford Sound & v.v. from Queenstown except via Dunedin!

IMHO 2 weeks is a little too quick to see the whole of the South Island. I recommend that you also visit Akaroa - about 80 km south-east of Christchurch. It's the only French settlement in NZ and its an extinct volcano that had one side caving in to the sea and thus is a very deep and natural harbour.

You are also going at the peak time - During the X'mas and new year hols. Good luck with the accomodation and the rental cars!

PM me if you need some advice about NZ - I studied there for a few years but that was a long time ago!
 

megaweb

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Hi megaweb, arent u the one who sent me the map o the loop around South Island u did?

Ya I was thinking i need to get the rough schedule out so I can book my accommodation in advance. Its the school holidays for Nzers so options are running out. The other activities can try to sort out later and allow some flexibility.

Thing about Otago and dunedin is....I am not tat really into seeing animals so was thinking of giving it a miss if the scenery is nothing to shout about.
Yes, I showed you my NZ trip map.

Dunedin has nice old buildings, castle and rail station. They also have the baldwin street, the world steepest street.

I find everyday visit new town is kind of rush for the trip. Wake up in the morning, eat breakfast and then start journey to next town. Reach town and settle the accommodation. You only left afternoon time to explore the place. Some towns need more time to explore like Queentown and Kaikoura.
 

buddy

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May 19, 2003
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#7
I wouldnt book accomodation in advance unless you know the places are going to be packed. You would hate it if u liked a place and wanted to stay longer but couldnt because u had booked something later. Bring some picnic gear, cup noodles etc and remember to rent a nice car that can store all your gear.

Driving everyday is going to be tiring. Like megaweb said, its better to spend more time in some towns - Queenstown is one I recommend to spend 3 nights. Are you travelling with children? There are literally hundreds of walks in NZ. You will all be tired after the glacier walk so maybe spend more time there as well. The glaciers are a must to see. I didnt do the Franz Josef glacier - went to Fox glacier instead.
 

foxwagon

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Mar 13, 2005
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Agree with some said above, spend more time at one place & enjoy the place thoroughly really like a relax holiday then speeding town to town everyday. Queenstown & the glaciers would be worth extra nights.
 

boroangel

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Apr 23, 2005
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Hmmm....I guess the core of my iti is somewhat sorted out...I just need some comments on :

1. is it worth it spending 1 day on the trip from Lake Tekapo to Mt Cook and do some walks in Mt Cook? Is it necessary to do guided walks on hooker valley and Kea point or can we do it on our own? Do we have to book some sort of pass for the walks? Is it better to stay the night in Mt Cook or outside Mt Cook? Will these walks be spoilt if we get a cloudy day?

2. Is there much in the scenery from Punakaiki to Nelson? I have 3 choices, 1. Greymouth->Punakaki->Westport->Nelson(stay1 night) ->Kaikoura OR 2.Greymouth->Punakaki->backtrack to Greymouth->Reefton->Hammer Springs (stay 1 night) -> Kaikoura OR 3. Greymouth-> Punakaki->Buller Gorge-> Reefton->Hammer Springs (stay 1 night) -> Kaikoura. Cant decide which one to go for....but I would definitely go for the most scenic route. Doing the Hammer Springs route would mean a really short drive to Kaikoura the next morning and I m not sure if I am allocating too much time to the route to Kaikoura and time in Kaikoura.

3. From Wanaka, is it better to drive to Haast and stay for the night or is it a reasonable drive to drive straight to Franz Josef for the night?

4. Is it recommended to do some short walks in Wanaka for half a day and then drive on to Franz Josef?

5. Is it tiring doing doing half day glacier walk in Franz Josef and drive to Hokitika or Greymouth? Is it a slow journey from Franz Josef to Greymouth?

I seem to be asking a lot of questions about driving times although i can get them from distance calculators....reason being I know we cant directly based the travelling times directly ont eh distance. Have to factor in things like how winding is the route, number of stops to make to take photos(which will be plenty for me as I wll be doing a lot of photography). Would appreciate it if someone familiar with the route can just roughly tell me how much time I need to travel each day based on my iti.

Thanks.
 

syl

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Nov 1, 2005
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#10
From my experience, Kaikura is a very small town. Its only attraction is you can go whale watching (but the seas can get pretty rough). The coastline is pretty rugged and I've seen seals basking in the sun on the rocky coastline.

If I can remember, Westport & Greymouth - not much to see or do there. I don't think you'll miss out on anything fantastic if you skip these 2 towns.

If you can spend some time in Nelson, then you must take a cruise. I came in once on a ferry from Wellington into Nelson and the seascapes coming into the Nelson harbour was just spectacular!

I reckon you should drive around the Cashmere Hills and Lyttleton Harbour whilst you're in Christchurch (ChCh). From there you can really see the spectacular Canterbury Plains with the Southern Alps in the background! Take shots of the River Avon whilst in ChCh also!

So many things to do and take shots of in the South Island. Wish I was going (sigh....),

Have fun! You will enjoy your trip!
 

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