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Itinerary Help with South Island!

Bend, Oregon
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90 posts
14 reviews
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Itinerary Help with South Island!

I've posted before and received excellent advice, but we are running out of time and are having a few issues piecing together our itinerary. We got a good deal on a rental car, so we're driving from Auckland to Queenstown, dropping off the car in Queenstown, and then flying back to Auckland for our return. Here's what I have, any help would be greatly appreciated. I'll be more than happy to write a report after our trip to help others out!

Please note: I really wanted to do the Routeburn Track and booked the only dates available at the time.

Nov 30: Auckland Airport (booked)

Dec 1: Get rental car early and drive to Rotorau (booked)

Dec 2: See more Rotorau Sites and drive to Taupo (booked)

Dec 3: Get up early and head to Tongariro for Alpine Crossing. Take shuttle from car park, walk back to car, stay in National Park. (booked)

Dec 4: Drive Wellington (booked)

Dec 5: Late Afternoon Ferry to Picton. Stay Picton. (booked)

Dec 6: Drive to Nelson via Queen Charlotte Drive

OR.... Queen Charlotte Track water taxi + day hike QCT to lodging for one night. It's quite a bit of money to just do one day on the QCT. Is it worth it? Should we do more? Or focus on Abel Tasman.

Dec 7: (assuming Nelson on Dec. 6) Abel Tasman

Dec 8: Abel Tasman

Dec 9: Punakaiki

Dec 10: Glaciers

Dec 11: Glaciers

(this is where it gets tricky because I want to visit mount cook to hike, but we're going to have to back track in order to do so).

Dec 12: Wanaka

Dec 13: Mt Cook

Dec 14: Mt Cook

Dec 15: Queenstown

Dec 16: Te Anau (Booked)

Dec 17: Routeburn (Booked)

Dec 18: Routeburn (Booked)

Dec 19: Te Anau (long bus ride but we had to hike this direction---booked).

Dec 20: Milford overnight cruise (booked)

Dec 21: ?

Dec 22: ?

Dec 23: ?

Dec 24: fly back to Auckland morning. Depart Auckland late night.

Would it be best to spend the last three days in Queenstown, or take a drive over to Dunedin?

Ballarat, Australia
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1,318 posts
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1. Re: Itinerary Help with South Island!

I would stay Queenstown - there is lots to see and do for a few days, and you'll likely be quite tired by then and glad of a multi-night stop. (And if you do still have lots of energy, there are plenty of active options and places to go sightseeing in the vicinity.)

If you want to stay Queenstown, book now! I was looking on behalf of my brother last night, and Queenstown is booked solid from Boxing Day, and there is very little left in the days up the Christmas.

If Mt Cook is important to you, I think you should go. It's not that far from Wanaka, and a pretty drive so no harm in seeing it from both directions.

Bend, Oregon
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90 posts
14 reviews
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2. Re: Itinerary Help with South Island!

Thanks Jean. I went ahead and booked Queenstown for the last three days. It makes sense and we did find a hotel, but options are limited so thank you for the tip to book right away. For anyone looking for a hotel, the Novetel (sp?) Lakefront still has rooms that week. Thanks again!

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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31,642 posts
322 reviews
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3. Re: Itinerary Help with South Island!

Oh, too bad you have already booked because my suggestion is to drive from Wanaka to Firodland like this:

12. All day drive Glaciers to Wanaka;

13. Explore Wanaka

14. Drive to Te Anau.

15 Drive to Milford Sound & do your overnight cruise

16. Back to Te Anau for the Routeburn;

19. QTN-Mt Cook

20. Mt Cook

21 - 24. QTN

4. Re: Itinerary Help with South Island!

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