Hello forum! The good news is that as part of a trip to Asia, we have managed to create a NZ stop for about 9 days at the last moment. The bad news is that it is the last moment, and NZ in July seems a little daunting between unpredictable driving conditions and less daylight. After having researched on several websites, including Trip Advisor, we have decided to limit ourselves to the South Island and tenatively come up with the following. Any suggested modifications and help would be GREATLY appreciated.
Day 1: Christ Church. We arrive at 2:30pm. By the time we collect our bags and rent a car, etc, it appears that there will not be a lot of day light left this time of year. But since the earthquake tragedy, there does not appear to be a compelling reason to spend much time in Christ Church itself. We plan on going to the glaciers via Arthur's Pass, but do not want to attempt it overnight. So the question: any suggested towns/places along the way from CC to the glaciers to spend night that gets us closer to the glaciers? Greymouth?
Day 2: Spend a day at Franz Joseph Glacier. We plan to try one heli-hike option either here or at Fox, and otherwise hike around the glacier. Overnight nearby.
Day 3: Spend a day at Fox Glacier. Ovenight near Fox.
Day 4: Drive to Wanaka/Albertown. Spend day nearby. We do not plan on skiing, but are hopeful that there will still be good nature/lake viewing here? We understand that accomodations are pricey and tight during ski season, so any suggested towns nearby would be appreciated as we plan on overnighting around here.
Day 5: Short drive to Queenstown or nearby. Originally, we had planned on staying in QT. But again, the same comment applies as we do not plan on skiing. Does staying here make sense or would an alternative town be better? Several posters nonetheless suggest using QT as a base.
Day 6. Excursion to Milford Sound or Te Anau. Again, any suggestions on whether this makes sense in July? We understand that we should allot a full day for this and perhaps overnight in Milford Sound.
Day 7. Back to Wanaka or QT. Spend rest of day and overnight here.
Day 8. Spend morning in Wanaka or QT. Leave afternoon toward Mt Cook. Overnight in Mt Cook..
Day 9. Explore Mt Cook. Leave in the afternoon to CC. Overnight in Christ Church to catch early morning flight out of CC in Day 10.