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Driving route in the South for first timers in NZ

Singapore, null...
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Driving route in the South for first timers in NZ

Hi there. Was wondering if someone could give me some advise on my driving itinerary in the south island of NZ this coming Nov. My family is planning to drive out of Christchurch -> Kaikoura (1 night) -> Christchurch (1 night) -> Lake Tekapo (2 nights) -> Mount Cook (3 nights) -> Queenstown (1 night) -> Milford Sound (2 nights) -> Queenstown (1 night) and fly back to Christchurch.

Are the roads easy for first timers? Thanks much :-)

Wanaka, New Zealand
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3,080 posts
21 reviews
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1. Re: Driving route in the South for first timers in NZ

The roads in November will be fine. Just allow plenty of time.

I think your allocation of nights is a little off. 5 nights in the Tekapo/Cook area is way too many. 2 nights at Mt Cook should be sufficient - or one at Cook and one at Tekapo if you intend to do the observatory at night. Shift the extra nights to Queenstown. I am not sure about 2 nights at Milford either. Again, one night is probably sufficient. The second night could be spent in Te Anau.

Will you be spending at least a night in Christchurch after flying long haul? Please don't plan to jump straight in the car and drive off your flight. That is more dangerous than our roads in winter.

New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
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28,364 posts
84 reviews
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2. Re: Driving route in the South for first timers in NZ

Welcome to the forum :)

Why 2 nights Milford Sound? There is little to do there apart from cruise the fiord and swat sandflies.

My suggestion;

1 arrive Christchurch, explore

2 drive to Kaikoura

3 drive to Akaroa

4 drive to Tekapo

5 drive to Aoraki/Mt Cook

6 explore

7 drive to Wanaka

8 explore

9 drive to Milford Sound

10 cruise, drive to Queenstown

11 explore

12 fly back to Christchurch

if this was my trip I would skip Tekapo - it is a place you stop for 20 minutes whale driving to someplace more interesting. And this would make your trip;

3 drive to Akaroa

4 drive to Aoraki/Mt Cook

5 explore

6 drive to Wanaka

7 explore

8 drive to Te Anau

9 explore Milford Sound, stay Te Anau

10 drive to Queenstown

11 explore...

Singapore, null...
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3. Re: Driving route in the South for first timers in NZ

Thanks so much for your advise. Am flying into Christchurch from Auckland in the morning so will pick up the car and go straight to Kaikoura. I have revised our travel itinerary based on your advise and here's what it looks like:

1. arrive Christchurch, drive to Kaikoura

2. 1 night in kaikoura (whale watching, kayaking, Penisular Walkway...)

3. 1 night in Christchurch (pick up supplies and explore)

4. 1 night in Lake Tekapo (star gazing, sightseeing)

5. 2 nights in Mount Cook Village (glacier explorer, 4WD, walks)

6. 1 night in Wanaka (Puzzling World, Mount Iron, walks)

7. 4 nights Te Anau (Milford Sound, overnight Doubtful Sound, Fiordland National Park...)

8. 1 night Queenstown (explore)

9. Back to Christchurch to catch flight back to Auckland

Singapore, null...
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4. Re: Driving route in the South for first timers in NZ

Could you help me with another question: Is it necessary to book a room with an aircon during the november period because of bugs / heat?

Ballarat, Australia
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1,318 posts
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5. Re: Driving route in the South for first timers in NZ

Coming from Singapore it is very unlikely that you will find November hot. Sandflies are a problem in Fiordland - insect screens are necessary there.

6. Re: Driving route in the South for first timers in NZ

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