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35 day North to South itinerary by campervan

Bristol, England
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35 day North to South itinerary by campervan

We are a couple planning a 5 week road trip from late January to early March next year starting in Auckland and finishing in Christchurch. I have drafted an itinerary and would be grateful for advice as to whether we have allowed too much or not enough time at any particular location, or if we have missed out anything vital. We are 60-ish, fit and active, love walking and kayaking, photography and nature, but not into sunbathing or extreme activities like bungee jumping! We'd also like an idea of the temperatures at that time, anything we need to book well in advance, and the prevalence of sandflies and whether there is anything you can do to protect yourself. Itinerary follows:

NORTH ISLAND

Day 1 Arrive Auckland 0730hrs, Day 2 in Auckland

Day 3 Pick up campervan and drive to Whangerei – see Parihaka Reserve and Waterfall

Day 4 Drive to Kerikeri – Bay of Islands, Russell?

Day 5/6 to Ahipara/Cape Reinga – Sand Safari Tour

Day 7 to Baylys Beach visiting Waipoua Forest Park on the way

Day 8 back to Auckland for overnight stay

Day 9 to Hahei, Coromandel Peninsula and Hot Water Beach

Day 10/11 to Rotorua

Day 12 to Waitomo Caves

Day 13/14 to Tongarino NP

Day 15 to Lake Taupo

Day 16 to Napier, Wine Tour?

Day 17 to Wellington

SOUTH ISLAND

Day 18 Cross to Picton and drive to Motueka

Day 19 Abel Tasman National Park – day spent walking/kayaking?

Day 20 to Punikaiki – see blowholes, Pancake Rocks

Day 21 to Franz Josef glacier

Day 22 walk on Franz Josef glacier

Day 23 to Fox Glacier – walk on glacier - is it worth doing both glaciers or is it a case of more of the same?

Day 24 to Queenstown

Day 25 to Te Anau

Day 26 Overnight cruise on Milford Sound

Day 27 Return to Te Anau

Day 28 to Wanaka

Day 29 to Mount Cook (Glentanner Park)

Day 30 day at Mount Cook – walks?

Day 31 to Akaroa

Day 32 to Kaikoura – see the seals, waterfall and walk

Day 33 to Christchurch

Day 34 Return camper van

Day 35 Tranzalpine Express to Greymouth and return to Christchurch

Day 36 Fly to Adelaide 1530hrs

Christchurch, New...
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1. Re: 35 day North to South itinerary by campervan

Welcome to the NZ Forum. You have a great trip planned with just one little tweak that I can see:

Day 24. Fox to QTN is a very long day and you have to pass through Wanaka, so why not stay there?

25-27 Te Anau

28. Te Anau to QTN

29. To Mt Cook. I strongly recommend the DoC Campground at Whitehorse Hill over Glentanner.

Day 35. Rather than taking the train to Greymouth, why not get off at Arthurs Pass & do some short walks, meet the keas etc?

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2. Re: 35 day North to South itinerary by campervan

Coromandel deserves more than one night so maybe see if you can fit in two nights.

Day 15 consider going Tongariro to Taupo (park your campervan on the lake front and have lunch!) then drive 2.5hrs to Napier.

Day 16 Napier for wine tour.

Day 17 will be 5hr drive to Wellington. You have no time for sightseeing in Wellington?

Be aware that Napier (Art Deco Capital of the World) will be having it's annual Art Deco festival 19 - 22 February which means thousands of people descend on Napier for a fun long weekend!

Am not a weather predictor however usually late Jan/Feb are quite warm in the North Island with temps around 25degC++.

Bristol, England
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3. Re: 35 day North to South itinerary by campervan

Thank you so much for your really useful replies - I have adjusted our itinerary accordingly including the extra day in Coromandel and Wellington. Zhuha - your suggestion of getting off the train at Arthur's pass is inspired. We will be driving through Greymouth anyway the week before. The extra night in Coromandel we will be probably stay on the Mercury Bay Estate as Maui do a Winery Haven deal where you get a luxury hamper and wine with your overnight stay. The extra day in Wellington, we'd like to see Mount Victoria and other Lord of the Rings locations.

Just another query - is it much better to do an overnight cruise on the Milford Sound or would a day cruise cover it just as well? Also , it looks like there are some glowworm caves at Te Anau so maybe we could do that instead of Waitomo - how do they compare?

Cardiff
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4. Re: 35 day North to South itinerary by campervan

A few points:

If you want to dig for hot water at the Hot Water Sands you need to check tide times on your arrival.

I think the tide has to have ebbed.

Whilst in the are do the moderate path walk to Cathedral Cove - it's a lovely spot.

For us, last month, some places warranted two night stays to be able to fully enjoy them - Akaroa, Kaikoura, Wanaka.

Akaroa has a truly stunning scenic drive that climbs way up giving beautiful panoramic views over the harbour from many different aspects.

Driving in such scenery, especially in the South, is truly a joy but you don't want to be constantly pushed to get from A to B

New Zealand
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5. Re: 35 day North to South itinerary by campervan

The glow worms at Waitomo are more extensive. I like the Te Anau caves though some find it claustrophobic as you need to hunch over in places - fine for Hobbits I guess :)

And yes, the Milford cruise by day is fine - save your pennies for another treat elsewhere on your visit.

Happy travels :)

Sydney, Australia
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6. Re: 35 day North to South itinerary by campervan

Hi Barbara,

I thought it would be easier to reply on here!

We went to the Bay of Islands and stopped off in Russell but only stayed for an hour or two. You need to be at Hot water beach 2 hours either side of low tide and can rent a spade. It is really amazing! Cathedral Cove nearby is worth a stroll!

Coromandel Peninsular is gorgeous. We spent a night up on the tip BUT didn't realise it was one of the roads that camper vans rentals are not meant to use. You may want to check the paperwork when you pick the van up. It is very dangerous to drive there with unsealed gravel tracks and sheer drops into the ocean on the side of the narrow road.

We decided against Waitomo caves as it is over $200 and heard there were free glowworm opportunities elsewhere (we didn't come across these though).

Matamata is the town closest to Hobbiton. It was a great tour of the shire! Wellington didn't really provide much in the way of Lord of the rings sights. Richard is a a big fan and had me walking all over but when we got there it was completely different to what we remembered from the films. They altered nearly everything, however Tongariro is home to Mount Doom from the film!

I agree with all the comments above! Arthur's Pass was lovely. We camped and Lake Paringa DOC that night which was free and pretty (although the drop toilet was absoultely vile).

Pancake Rocks can be done in an hour easily so you may want to move on that night! It is best to go at high tide as this is when the pancakes are supposed to look like they are steaming, the blowhole is also very active a this time.

In terms of the Glaciers. The Franz Josef Glacier has retreated a lot in the recent years so the only way to do it now is by catching a helicopter flight to higher ground. I spoke to someone that did this and Fox and they said they felt the Fox Glacier was very similar, cost a lot less and can be accessed by foot. We did the Fox and loved it!

Queenstown is beautiful you may want to stay longer!

Milford Sound - a day is plenty. Be sure to stop at The Chasm and Mirror Lakes.

Mount Cook - Hooker Valley walk is awesome with glacier and iceberg views and a luminous blue lake!

Hanmer Springs is gorgeous!

Enjoy. Sorry this reply is a bit all over the place - I kept remembering things and adding them in!

Katy

Bristol, England
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7. Re: 35 day North to South itinerary by campervan

Hi Katy

Great idea to post on this forum as then I will have all the information on the same page, and it will also be a great resource for anyone planning a similar trip.

We've already decided to leave out Waitomo and see the caves at Te Anau which means we don't have to do a big detour in North Island. We're definitely going to do the Hobbiton Tour - can't wait. We're going to take the DVD with us (which includes a documentary on the making of the film) as I believe there is a player in the van so we can refresh our memory along the way.

Re the blowholes, we only chose Punikaiki as somewhere to stop overnight on the way to the glaciers. If you or anyone else can suggest a better alternative stop, that would be great. I know we would be very lucky to see the blowholes blow anyway!

Thanks for the tip about the glaciers. Tempting as it is to do the helicopter trip, I am sure it will be very expensive, so I think we will spend our time at Fox Glacier and have a bit longer to spend at Queenstown as you suggest.

Milford Sound - We were thinking of booking the trip which includes a bus from Te Anau and the day cruise. Do you think it would be better to drive to Milford Sound ourselves and just do the cruise or does the bus stop for the Lakes and the Chasm? What is the road like? Is it easy for a camper van?

We will definitely do the Hooker Valley walk when in Mt Cook and do a detour to Hanmer Springs on the way to Kaikoura from Akaroa. We have decided to hire the camper van for 35 days as this qualifies us for an extra discount and means we can spend an extra day at some of the lovely places forum posters have suggested.

Christchurch, New...
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8. Re: 35 day North to South itinerary by campervan

I don't know which tour, or how many people, Katy was quoting for $200 at Waitomo, but the main, "Waitomo Cave" costs $48 per adult & $115 for a family.

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9. Re: 35 day North to South itinerary by campervan

Take the bus trip to Milford from te Anau - the road is challenging and has a high accident rate.

There are many tour options - take the one which suits you best. You can book in Te Anau.

Safe travels :)

Bristol, England
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10. Re: 35 day North to South itinerary by campervan

Thank you - will do