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13 day (crazy?) Itinerary

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56 reviews
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13 day (crazy?) Itinerary

My family and I will be going to New Zealand in December for 13 days. We came up with this itinerary and would like to know if it is will be miserable to do this much in the time that we have (or dont have). I would like to add that the designated driver will not be participating in most of the physically taxing activities.

Specifically we are not sure about December 22 and 23rd: We would like to do the Lost World tour that starts at 10:30am so would you suggest gunning it to Waitomo on the 22nd to make the tour or leaving the 22nd as a more relaxed day and doing the tour on the 23rd.

Any suggestions/advice to tweak the itinerary would be much appreciated!



12:25pm arrival to Christchurch

Pickup car rental

Punting on the Avon 10am-4pm, 30 minute ride

Willowbank Wildlife Reserve to 7pm



Drive Christchurch to Arthur's Pass (145km, 2 hours)

Drive Arthur's Pass-Fox Glacier (257km, 3 hours)



8:00am Full day ice climbing adventure


12.15 Crazy DRIVE

Drive Fox Glacier-Haast Pass (180km, 2 hours)

Haast-Pass-Wanaka (82km, 1 hour)

Wanaka-Cromwell (53km, 40min)

Cromwell-Queenstown (60km, 50min)

Queenstown-Te Anau (171km, 2 hour 11min)



Drive Te Anau-Milford Sound (118km, 1.5 hours)

Boat Ride (9am) for 2 hours or Kayak (7:15-9am depending on tour) for 5-6 hours

Drive Milford Sound to Queenstown (286km, 3.5 hours)




Canyoning, half day or full day?

Half day: 9am or 1:30pm (3.5 hours)

Hangout in Queenstown



Drive Queenstown-Mt Cook (262km, 3 hours)



Drive Mt Cook-Lake Tekapo (104km, 1 hour)

Drive Lake Tekapo-Christchurch (225km, 3 hours)

Fly Christchurch-Wellington

Wellington Mt Victoria, little red cable car



Drive Wellington-Tongariro National Park (330km, 4 hours) not planning to hike

Drive Tongariro National Park- Lake Taupo (60km, 1 hour)



Huka Falls

Drive Huka Falls-Rotorua (77km, 1 hour)



Drive Rotorua-Waitomo (147km, 2 hours)

this is ???



Waitomo Cave Tour (10:30am, 7 hours) finish at 5:30

Drive Waitomo-Auckland (202km, 2 hour 40 min)







New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
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85 reviews
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1. Re: 13 day (crazy?) Itinerary

Here's the thing - your drive times are in some cases completely impossible. Haast to Wanaka in one hour? Only by helicopter! I know the road well, I don't stop for views and it takes me a full two hours for the drive.

Drive Fox to Te Anau in one day? - please don't. Driver fatigue is the main cause of NZ road accidents. We don't have the multi-lane freeways you will be used to driving. Here driving our often narrow, twisty and steep roads is both mentally and physically exhausting. best not to plan more than 4 hours driving in any 24 hour period. Example - the drive Franz to Wanaka can be done in 4 hours of non-stop driving if you are familiar with the road (and it's many twists and aprox 20 one lane bridges) - but most visitors take closer to 6 hours for the drive as there are so many view points.

Drive te Anau to Milford in 1 hour? Nope - it will take twice as long. The road has a high number of accidents - due to fatigue, speed, driver inattention (the views are amazing, the majority of bends have no guardrails) and failing to drive on the left.

With 13 days in NZ you have time to explore one island. It takes a minimum of three weeks to cover both. You need two weeks just for what you plan for the South Island and another week for the North. Either extend your time here or drastically reduce your itinerary.

Best of luck :)

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2. Re: 13 day (crazy?) Itinerary

Thanks for your reply! I just pulled the driving time from google map so assumed the estimates would be accurate. This definitely changes everything!

Destination Expert
for Western Australia
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3,476 posts
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3. Re: 13 day (crazy?) Itinerary

I've found this time/distance calculator fairly accurate:


Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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362 reviews
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4. Re: 13 day (crazy?) Itinerary

Just as an example of how wrong Google's times are " 19/12: Mt Cook to Tekapo (104Km - 1 hour)" - the MAX speed limit in NZ is 100 kph - without taking into account any bends; hills;intersections; sheep on the road; one way bridges; photo opportunities etc. So Mt Cook to Lake Tekapo is more likely to take 90 minutes - plus time to buy the world's freshest salmon from the Mt Cook Salmon Farm enroute!!

Most of the experts here recommend www.aamaps.co.nz

Adelaide, Australia
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716 posts
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5. Re: 13 day (crazy?) Itinerary

Thanks Mel; that NZ time and distance calculator seems really accurate, judging by what our New Zealand experts say about travel times - for example, Mt Cook Village to Lake Tekapo: 102 km - 1 hr29m.

Suzanne :)

6. Re: 13 day (crazy?) Itinerary

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