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Planning a trip to the South Island

Planning a trip to the South Island

Old Mar 9th 2010, 9:39 pm
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Default Planning a trip to the South Island

Hi everyone,

I'm hoping for a bit of help and advice. We've got our flights booked for a trip to New Zealand and I'm trying to sort out an itinerary. We fly into Christchurch and stay there on April 2nd and April 10th. So... we've got about 7 days in between to fill with "stuff".....

Mostly we want to do a lot of scenic things. We've got two young kids (aged 6 and 3) so a lot of the more active activities are out. There will be no hiking or things like that. I do plan on doing a day cruise in Milford Sound though. We don't mind longer drives as the kids are nicely contained in the back seat and are likely to nap a bit.

So, any ideas how we should space out our days. I would like to book the hotels early in case they fill up so I need to come up with an itinerary. Unless of course it's really not busy that time of year and we could just turn up to places. But if there's a decent chance most places will be full we wouldn't do that while travelling with the kids.

Is this possible?:

Day 1 (April 3) - Drive to Lake Tekapo and stay overnight
Day 2 (April 4) - Drive to Wanaka
Day 3 (April 5) - Drive to Queenstown
Day 4 (April 6) - Drive to Te Anau
Day 5 (April 7) - Drive to Milford Sound (do cruise)
Day 6 (April 8) - Drive to Te Anau
Day 7 (April 9) - Drive to Dunedin (longer drive)
Day 8 (April 10) - Drive to Queenstown, stay overnight and fly out in the morning

Also, a question on place to stay. We are looking at getting a pack of vouchers with Golden Chain and booking them that way. We don't need anything fancy, just decent and clean. Is that worthwhile that way, or is there a better way to go about it?

Thanks in advance!

Last edited by comet555; Mar 9th 2010 at 10:40 pm.
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Old Mar 9th 2010, 10:17 pm
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Default Re: Planning a trip to the South Island

We can give u a bed for your first night in ChCh, U can drive to Tekapo from here in 2.5 hours we also have a freind with a holiday home there so if you give me your exact dates i will see if it,s free and what she charges

Neil
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Old Mar 9th 2010, 10:26 pm
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Default Re: Planning a trip to the South Island

Originally Posted by Jan n Neil View Post
We can give u a bed for your first night in ChCh, U can drive to Tekapo from here in 2.5 hours we also have a freind with a holiday home there so if you give me your exact dates i will see if it,s free and what she charges

Neil
Thanks for the offer, we've already booked and paid for the hotels in Christchurch on either end though.

While I'd be happy staying with people my husband would be uncomfortable, I can't even get him to stay in bed and breakfast places because he feels like he's in someone else's house! Oh well....

We'll only be staying in each place for 1 night, so that probably wouldn't be long enough for a holiday home I would think. We also like having restaurants either in the motel/hotel or within short walking distance so it's easier to get the kids fed in the morning.

We will be there from April 2 (in Christchurch) until the 10th (staying in Christchurch that night).

I'll change the dates on my above post so that it's clear what dates we're there at.
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Old Mar 9th 2010, 10:32 pm
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Default Re: Planning a trip to the South Island

we stayed in motels on our visit, they are nothing like the ones in the uk, one even had its own hot tub! really nice place to stay in queenstown is oaks resort, a bit pricy but fantastic. word of advice on Milford Sound, its a bloody long drive and day out for little ones. good luck with it im sure youll have a fab time.
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Old Mar 9th 2010, 10:33 pm
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Default Re: Planning a trip to the South Island

Thanks for confirming the driving time. It's nice to know I've been reading the map right!

Any ideas how to drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound? Is it quicker/easier to drive the long way around through Te Anau or is there a more direct route off the main road?

I just had a look online and saw that you really do have to go the long way around. So I adjusted the itinerary to stop in Te Anau for the night.

Last edited by comet555; Mar 9th 2010 at 10:40 pm.
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Old Mar 9th 2010, 10:43 pm
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Default Re: Planning a trip to the South Island

Another question, what will the roads be like in early April? I'm hoping since it's the beginning of winter it won't be too bad.
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Old Mar 9th 2010, 11:18 pm
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Default Re: Planning a trip to the South Island

At the moment it's looking like we'll drive from Queenstown to Te Annau and then stay overnight. We'll head out in the morning to Milford Sound and then probably return back to Te Annau as it doesn't look like there's really anywhere to stay in Milford Sound. Will be a couple of hours each way, but that's all right. The kids will probably have a nap on the way back in the late afternoon.
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Old Mar 10th 2010, 12:03 am
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Default Re: Planning a trip to the South Island

Which place is better to stay in, Lake Tekapo or Twizel?

Twizel has a Golden Chain motel and might allow us to go from Christchurch to Twizel and then straight to Queenstown. A bit more driving but it would free up a day for on the way back to Christchurch at the end of the trip.
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Old Mar 10th 2010, 1:10 am
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Default Re: Planning a trip to the South Island

When we went to Milford Sound we went from Queenstown to Te Anau and stayed the night and set off for Milford Sound the following day. We then went from Milford back to Queenstown. I do think spending a night at Te Anau is a good idea if you're going to Milford though probably not worth spending two there since you aren't here that long.
I haven't stayed in Tekapo but stayed a night in Twizel, and there really isn't a lot to do there. We stayed only as it was a handy place to stop on the way from Queenstown to Christchurch.
Have you thought about going over to the glaciers/ Arthurs Pass? If you missed out Dunedin then you could do a loop from Chch over to the West coast, south through the glaciers and Wanaka, Queenstown, Te Anau, Twizel/ Tekapo and Mt Cook. I've not been to Dunedin so can't help you on that, we didn't go when we did a similar trip over 10days as it was 'further' out of our route. Bear in mind that driving does take longer than you expect sometimes.
Check out the AA driving times, we have found them to be pretty accurate and we don't dawdle!
http://www.aatravel.co.nz/main/td-calculator.php

Puzzling World in Wanaka will be good for the kids [and young at heart adults as well Other than that I can't help with things that the children will enjoy.
One option for accommodation is to pick up a free AA guide at the airport as it will list plenty of motels if you haven't booked beforehand. We have usually only ever booked 1-2 days in advance or just turned up somewhere and always managed to get somewhere to stay.
I'm confused [doesn't take much!] but are you flying from Queenstown to Christchurch or driving, you seem to suggest you're doing both
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Old Mar 10th 2010, 2:06 am
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Default Re: Planning a trip to the South Island

Originally Posted by Persephone View Post
When we went to Milford Sound we went from Queenstown to Te Anau and stayed the night and set off for Milford Sound the following day. We then went from Milford back to Queenstown. I do think spending a night at Te Anau is a good idea if you're going to Milford though probably not worth spending two there since you aren't here that long.
I haven't stayed in Tekapo but stayed a night in Twizel, and there really isn't a lot to do there. We stayed only as it was a handy place to stop on the way from Queenstown to Christchurch.
Have you thought about going over to the glaciers/ Arthurs Pass? If you missed out Dunedin then you could do a loop from Chch over to the West coast, south through the glaciers and Wanaka, Queenstown, Te Anau, Twizel/ Tekapo and Mt Cook. I've not been to Dunedin so can't help you on that, we didn't go when we did a similar trip over 10days as it was 'further' out of our route. Bear in mind that driving does take longer than you expect sometimes.
Check out the AA driving times, we have found them to be pretty accurate and we don't dawdle!
http://www.aatravel.co.nz/main/td-calculator.php

Puzzling World in Wanaka will be good for the kids [and young at heart adults as well Other than that I can't help with things that the children will enjoy.
One option for accommodation is to pick up a free AA guide at the airport as it will list plenty of motels if you haven't booked beforehand. We have usually only ever booked 1-2 days in advance or just turned up somewhere and always managed to get somewhere to stay.
I'm confused [doesn't take much!] but are you flying from Queenstown to Christchurch or driving, you seem to suggest you're doing both
We're flying into Christchurch and then using our rental car to get around. We leave from Christchurch about 8 days later.

Thanks for the link on driving times, very helpful.

I'd love to fit in the northern part of the island as well. We could skip Dunedin and head to Haast and do the Glaciers and go back through Arthur's Pass. Not sure if it's better to do that or go along the south east coast.

It would be nice to just find hotels as we go along, I just don't know how busy it is in early April.
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Old Mar 10th 2010, 3:41 am
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Default Re: Planning a trip to the South Island

Here's our account of our last South Island trip with maps and distances:

http://clubley.blogspot.com/2007/12/...trip-day1.html
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Old Mar 10th 2010, 4:03 am
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Default Re: Planning a trip to the South Island

Originally Posted by RobClubley View Post
Here's our account of our last South Island trip with maps and distances:

http://clubley.blogspot.com/2007/12/...trip-day1.html
Cool, thanks.

Do you think it'd be worth driving straight from Christchurch to Queenstown? How long would that take?

We don't mind a long drive with a few stops throughout the day to take pictures, eat, etc.
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Old Mar 10th 2010, 4:06 am
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Default Re: Planning a trip to the South Island

Originally Posted by comet555 View Post
Cool, thanks.

Do you think it'd be worth driving straight from Christchurch to Queenstown? How long would that take?

We don't mind a long drive with a few stops throughout the day to take pictures, eat, etc.
It's about 550km so a very long drive, but do-able in a day as you can see from our blog. It took us about 10 hours I think with loads of photo stops. Depends what you want to see along the way I guess.
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Old Mar 10th 2010, 4:11 am
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Default Re: Planning a trip to the South Island

Originally Posted by RobClubley View Post
It's about 550km so a very long drive, but do-able in a day as you can see from our blog. It took us about 10 hours I think with loads of photo stops. Depends what you want to see along the way I guess.
Actually a nice scenic drive is what we're looking for. We might just try and do it in a day and see how it goes.

When you went to Milford Sound did you do an overnight boat tour? I couldn't quite tell from the blog although you did mention the cabins.
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Old Mar 10th 2010, 5:28 am
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Default Re: Planning a trip to the South Island

Originally Posted by comet555 View Post
Actually a nice scenic drive is what we're looking for. We might just try and do it in a day and see how it goes.

When you went to Milford Sound did you do an overnight boat tour? I couldn't quite tell from the blog although you did mention the cabins.
Yes we did. With RealJourneys. Highly recommended although we did pay for the cheap boat and it had broken down so we ended up on the most expensive one!
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