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34 Day Itinerary Revised

Tucson, Arizona
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34 Day Itinerary Revised

Hello, You have all been so helpful in suggestions that you gave for my initial 35 day tour, that I've researched books and read thousands of posts on T.A. since then. We've changed our mind to NOT hire a campervan, and instead will rent a car. We're in our 60's, love driving on natural scenic roads, staring at mountains, forests, waters, taking scenic walks (up to an hour each) and avoid helicopters and caves ! Also, as some of you recommended we return the car in Christchurch and Fly back to Auckland, this option was investigated, and my hubby decided to return car to Auckland and drive a different route going back. So, please no need to offer that we fly to Christchurch. Here is how the revised rough draft looks now, taking the entire month of November and a week into December, 2014. I'm aware there are many one night stops, and plenty of driving....but...I do want to see as much as possible. We've done other driving trips throughout Alaska, Canada and USA and this frequent 1 nite stops routine works well for us. I do appreciate your expertise, patience, and valuable advice.

1. Land airport early morning, rest, get car, sleep First night Auckland

2. Drive to Matamama, see Hobbiton, continue drive to Rotorua and sleep.

3. Explore Rotorua

4. Drive to Lake Taopo, hike Huka Falls, sleep near Lake Taopo area

5. Drive to Whakapapa Village, 3 short walks in Tongario Nat'l Park. Sleep Whakapapa Village area.

6. Drive to Wellington. Sleep

7. Explore, museum, botanical garden, sleep Wellington

8. Morning Ferry to Picton. . off Ferry, drive to either Blenheim or Kaikoura and sleep

9. Drive to Christchurch

10. Drive 1/2 of Arthurs Pass and explore, and sleep

11. Drive rest of Arthurs Pass, go to Pancake Rocks, Drive to Hokitika and sleep.

12. Drive to Bruce Bay, stopping at Fox Glacier briefly (been to Alaska, Switzerland glaciers)

and sleep at Bruce Bay

13. Drive to Wanaka and sleep. (stop near Haast, explore ...)

14. explore Wanaka

15. explore Wanaka

16. Drive to Queenstown area....explore, and sleep

17. Explore Arrowtown and/or Glenorchy, and sleep

18. Drive to Te Anau

19 Milford Sound bus and tour

20. Drive through Catlins area..Explore on way, then sleep near Waikawa or Papatowai

21. Drive to Nugget Point area, explore and sleep near this area ? ? ?

22. Drive through Milton to Roxburgh, Alexandra or Clyde to sleep ? (yes skip Dunedin)

23. Drive to Mt. Cook....sleep (maybe in Twizel ?)

24. Explore Mt. Cook sleep maybe in Twizel ?

25 Drive to Geraldine, (exploring Lake Pukaka & Lake Tekapo on way) Sleep Geraldine

26. Drive to Hanmer Springs sleep

27. Drive to Saint Armond in Nelson Lakes National Park (this is weird drive?) sleep Saint Armond

28. Explore Nelson Lakes Nat'l Park with sandflies ! sleep Saint Armond

29. Drive to Nelson, explore and sleep in Nelson

30. Drive to Picton, take Ferry, Sleep in Wellington

31. Drive to Wanganui and sleep

32. Drive to New Plymouth and sleep

33. Explore and sleep New Plymouth

34. Drive to Auckland and airport for late flight.

Whew....I'm exhausted just writing this out ! ! You must think we're crazy to do all this in 34 days ! If anyone can offer sleeping in any motels, B & B, or other acomodations in any of the places where I wrote "sleep".....please offer your suggestions.

Grateful for your help in this route, as I know many of you have seen thousands of itineraries, and no 2 are ever alike !

New Zealand
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for South Island
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1. Re: 34 Day Itinerary Revised

Planning is fun so should never be considered wasted time:)

What time of year are you planning to travel?

Why not go Wanaka - Te Anau - Catlins - Queenstown - Aoraki/Mt Cook?

and this is a personal preference, but it is a shame to come to Nelson and see nothing of Abel Tasman national park. It really does have great walks - or take a day cruise instead - the beaches are glorious.

Where do you plan to stay Bruce Bay? Why Twizel instead of Aoraki/Mt Cook? - Twizel is charmless and will add a few hours of driving to your route.

please don't drive weirdly when going Hanmer to St Arnaud - the road is perfectly normal and doesn't require weirdness ;)

Tucson, Arizona
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2. Re: 34 Day Itinerary Revised

Thanks for your quick reply. I wrote in my LONG narrative that the trip is all of November, 2014 and 1 week into December. I don't have a preference for the order of " Wanaka - Te Anau - Catlins - Queenstown - Aoraki/Mt Cook" that you suggest over the one I chose (from maps, books, other postings) of : Wannka to QTN to Te Anau to Catlins to Mt. Cook. Whichever makes most sense and drivability routes, and scenic roads. If I do it the way you wrote, please advise on precise roads are best views to travel in Springtime, and still travel along the SSR to Catlins.

Bruce Bay is only a stopping place, between Hotitka and Wanaka, so I've researched several motel's on T.A. And Twizel vs. Mt. Cook is not a done deal, just a thought in case accomadations are scarce at Mt. Cook. I thought you'd question stay around Clyde/Roxburgh, but is that area OK ? We may still do Abel Tasman, depending on weather conditions that day. Don't worry about our driving "weirdly"between Hanmer and Saint Arnaud...I just noticed the route on AA mapping was unique ! Any more suggestions are kindly welcomed.

Oz
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3. Re: 34 Day Itinerary Revised

Hi,

Just to "flesh things" out a bit for you.

Lake Tekapo is a scenic stop (The Church of the Good Shepherd must be photographed as much as The Vatican). It's a place to have a break, fill the car's tank, empty yours and move on. Unless you are a serious fisher, caught by bad weather or need to sleep as you have driven too far It isn't a place to stay IMHO.

You may have been to Alaska and Switzerland too but the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers are unique in their rapidity of movement, their retreat (see them before they are no more) and the fact that you can walk through rainforest to the terminal face. Try that one anywhere else on the planet.

Twizel is a town constructed to house the workforce that built the dam and associated infrastructure and looks like it.

Aoraki/Mt Cook is stunning. Endless walks for all levels of fitness, together with activities and tours. Well worthy of a night or three. The boat tour on the terminal Lake of the Tasman Glacier is worth staying an additional night on its' own. One caveat you need layers of "proper" outdoor clothing to enjoy the place as the weather will change rapidly and frequently. You don't have glaciers without significant precipitation.

The South West coast of the NZ's South Island is one of the wettest places on earth so you need to be prepared for this with suitable clothing and a plan "B" through to "F".

I must have said this so many times to would be visitors to NZ I must set up a paragraph to cover the following:

Whilst "getting there" is half the experience of travelling in NZ and a car is the "best" way to do it many spend far too much time staring throught the windscreen and far too little time doing and experiencing. Your plans are no exception. I would urge you to improve your holiday experience by dropping so many one night stands and spending longer in locations such as Queenstown, Wanaka, Te Anau, the Otago Peninsula, Aoraki/Mt Cook, Glenorchy, Arrowtown etc, etc.

Indeed with an overnight trip on Doubtful sound you could spend ten times the amount of time allotted to your entire trip and never leave the Queenstown area and still have many things left to try, see or experience.

IMHO your itinerary needs a drastic pruning to be more enjoyable and worthwhile.

Cheers,

Edited: 21 March 2014, 22:40
California
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4. Re: 34 Day Itinerary Revised

I think you are better off breaking up the trip from Hokitika to Wanaka by staying at Fox Glacier. This would give you the best opportunity to walk around Lake Matheson in the morning when it is at it's glassiest best. Take your camera and hope the clouds have cleared so you get those great mirrored pictures of Mount Cook from the scenic decks (Reflection Island is the better of the two).

If you do the itinerary the way WL has plotted it out for you, then you won't need a night in Clyde/Roxburgh. Take the route from Balclutha to Queenstown that follows the Clutha River, it's beautiful! And stop at Jimmy's Pies for a savory pie on the way.

Spend your two nights in Mount Cook village and not Twizel. When you wake up, you are right at the trailheads to several wonderful walks. If you stay in Twizel, you have to drive almost an hour to get to them.

New Zealand
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for South Island
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5. Re: 34 Day Itinerary Revised

I doubt driving the Lewis Pass from Hanmer has ever been called a unique route before!

15 explore Wanaka

16 drive to Catlins via Alexandra and Balclutha, stay Kaka Point

17 explore more, stay?

18 drive to Te Anau

19 explore Milford, stay Te Anau

20 drive to Queenstown

21 explore

22 explore Glenorchy etc

23 drive Lindis Pass to Aoraki/Mt Cook

24 explore

25 drive to Geraldine or Chch

Hamilton & Waikato...
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6. Re: 34 Day Itinerary Revised

Great plan! I love road trips as well, best way to see places and you can take in so much just while driving. However you have missed out one of NZs best and most magical places. I would highly recommend whale watching in Kaikoura, Kaikoura is so unique and beautiful. Also while your near nelson if you get time to visits Totaranui beach then do so, its beautiful golden sand, backed onto native bush and clear emerald green waters. Just type "Totaranui" into Google and you will for yourself. Its located in Golden bay region near nelson. Other than that your plan looks spot on!

Tucson, Arizona
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7. Re: 34 Day Itinerary Revised

THANK YOU, de Schenke, for recommendation to stay overnight at Fox Glacier. That's going to be a Done Deal ! Can you suggest a specific place (or is that ädvertising?) And we'll sleep at Mt. Cook and NOT Twizel. ( I just liked saying the name of Twizel) As for route that WL recommends, I think the total km and hours driving is a bit more than my original route, but I'll re-check it with AA maps. Seems on other TA posts, the choice of WL and my way are split almost equally by other travelers. And to Beeancalulu, we will stay iin Kaikoura the first day after getting off Ferry at Picton, (see above sleep either Blenheim or Kaikoura), so we will watch whales. Totaranui is also on my wish list. If the sandflies are too much at Nelson Lakes N.P, we'll skip it and head to Golden Bay. Thanks for your Great ideas. Beeancalulu, you said it was a "great plan," but do you think my driving route and plan is viable as is, or does it need more changing ? If so, what changes would you suggest ? I'm so appreciative for all your advice that all of you have contributed. It sure helps so much with your expertise to make this trip memorable.

Hamilton & Waikato...
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8. Re: 34 Day Itinerary Revised

Oh I see, great you are heading to Kaikoura, you will pass through Blenheim on your way so you will still get to see it. Not a very long drive from Picton to kaikoura, maybe 1.5hours 2 hours max.

Yes your driving plans sound totally achievable. However the New Plymouth to Auckland drive might take over 5-6 hours, so as long as your ok with that, thats one of the longer runs you have on here. You'll sleep well on the plane!

Edited: 22 March 2014, 08:43
Hamilton & Waikato...
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9. Re: 34 Day Itinerary Revised

I hope yo get sunny weather for all the south island locations, for the mountains mainly.

California
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10. Re: 34 Day Itinerary Revised

We were in a campervan when we went to Fox, so stayed at the Top 10 Holiday Park. So sorry, I don't have a recommendation for a specific motel. If you click on my screen name and look at my reviews, you will see where we stayed in motels/cottages through the south end of South Island recently. There wasn't a bad one in the lot, not even a so-so one!

>>>" I just liked saying the name of Twizel"

You know it's pronounced Tweye-zle, with a long "i". ;-)

And I meant to mention that Jimmy's Pies is in Roxburgh.