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19 day South Island Itinerary Check

Honolulu, Hawaii
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19 day South Island Itinerary Check

We are a 55 year old couple visiting NZ for the first time. It turns out that 19 days is not nearly enough time to see the South Island! We are trying to find the right balance between driving and hanging out, and are highly influenced by the New Zealand Frenzy guides. Could you take a look at this itinerary and let me know what problems you see?

Day 1: Christchurch. Arrive CC in evening.

Day 2: Kaikoura. Drive to Kaikoura (3 hrs). See: Ohau Point, Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway, Iron Gate Stream Swimming Hole, Haumuri Bluffs tramp.

Days 3-5: Golden Bay (Takata). Drive to Takata (6 hrs). See: Wharariki Beach, Kaihoka Lakes, Paturau Beach, Rawhiti Cave, Wainui Bay, Abel Tasman North, Paynes Ford Limestone.

Day 6: Hokitika. Drive to Hokitika (6 hrs).

Days 7-8: Franz Josef/Fox. Drive to FJ/Fox (3 hrs). See: Okarito Beach, Robert's Point Hike, Fox Glacier Chalet Track, Gillespies Beach, Monro Beach Track.

Days 9-10: Wanaka. Drive to Wanaka (4 hrs). See: Iron Mountain, Diamond Lake loop track, Colquhouns Beach Track, Rob Roy Glacier Valley Track.

Days 11-14: Te Anau/Milford Sound. Drive to Te Anau (4 hrs.) See: Kepler Track Day walk, Key Summit Track, Milford Sound.

Day 15 - 17: Dunedin. Drive to Dunedin (5 hrs). Sandfly Bay, Sandy Mount loop track, Royal Albatross Center.

Day 18: Lake Tekapo. Drive to Lake Tekapo (5 hrs).

Day 19: Christchurch. Drive to CC (4 hrs).

Thanks so much for your thoughts.

Honolulu, Hawaii
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1. Re: 19 day South Island Itinerary Check

Oh, and this is arriving in mid-November, leaving early December 2014.

Dunedin, New Zealand
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2. Re: 19 day South Island Itinerary Check

If you are going from Te Anau to Dunedin, I suggest you overnight in the Catlins along the way. Then follow the Southern Scenic Route up to Dunedin, turning toward the coast at Lake Waihola to Taieri Mouth and then north along the coast through Brighton, then Blackhead Beach Road, taking in Tunnel Beach Track at the southern end of Dunedin.



A great place to overnight in the Catlins would be Curio Bay/Porpoise Bay (they are next to one another), home of the Petrified Forest and a Yellow Eyed Penguin Colony. In summer, Hectors Dolphins can often be seen in Porpoise Bay. There are many places to see and enjoy in the Catlins (Nugget Point is a must and you can see it as you drive from Curio Bay to Dunedin). The Catlins are an excellent place to see Yellow Eyed Penguins and NZ Hookers Sea Lions, one of the rarest species in the world.


If you drove straight from Curio Bay to Dunedin, it would take around 2.5 hours, but there is no need to rush through this interesting area. The days will be long in November:


If the weather is fine in Dunedin, do not miss Tunnel Beach Track. It is short but steep: 12 minutes to descend, about 15 minutes to ascend.


All of your Dunedin activities are located on the Otago Peninsula, it's probably most practical to stay there as well. Besides Taiaroa Head's Royal Albatross Centre, consider viewing its Little Blue Penguin colony (admission charged to viewing platform). The LBPs swim ashore at twilight, as the last light is on the horizon, but LED lights allow you to see them quite well. It will be cold.


I live in Dunedin, and in November the weather might still be grey, windy and slightly damp (December is the wettest month). So you'll need your wind and waterproof jackets. But at least there are no sandflies or mosquitoes.

No time for Mt. Cook Village and its Hooker Valley Track?

Up in Golden Bay, you mean Takaka. On the way to Hokitika, I assume you'll be stopping at Punakaiki.

New Zealand
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3. Re: 19 day South Island Itinerary Check

You have certainly been doing your homework :)

No problems as such - I would just reorganise slightly.

You won't achieve your wish list with just one day in Wanaka - I find the walk to Colquhouns Beach rather underwhelming. It crosses scrub farmland for mile after mile with no great views. The walk Wanaka to Waterfall Creek and on to Glendhu Bay stunning as it hugs the lake shore for the entire route. So i would add a day to Wanaka.

and I wonder if you really need so long in Te Anau? Plus you have skipped Aoraki/mt Cook - which is considerably more scenic than Tekapo - and offers excellent walks.

you could;

11 drive 3 hours Wanaka to Te Anau

12 day hike Kepler

13 drive to Milford, cruise, drive back to Key Summit track, hike, continue to te Anau

14 drive Catlins to Dunedin - will take all day with stops southernscenicroute.co.nz/index.php/destinat…

hope this helps :)

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4. Re: 19 day South Island Itinerary Check

My comment about the day in Wanaka is that the Rob Roy Glacier Valley Track is going to take you 5 to 6 hours. It's an hour drive from Wanaka to the trailhead, and a 3-hr return hike. You are sure to spend a bit of time taking photos and admiring the glacier once there.

So if you are going to do that, there's little time for more hiking that day. You could fit in the Iron Mtn Loop, but adding Diamond Lake would be too ambitious, IMO.

Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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5. Re: 19 day South Island Itinerary Check

I think that planning 6 hr drives is a little crazy. Remember these are DRIVE times - you need to allow for rest stops (no cruise control); fuel/food/photo opportunities etc. I find when travelling with visitors I can take up to 50% longer on some roads

Where will you have come from, on day 1? If Hawaii, you may still have jet-lag on day 3. But even without jet lag, that is a very tiring drive. The last bit, over the Takaka Hill is quite exhausting driving even when fresh. Do yourselves a favour & stay a night in Nelson (D3).

On day 6 you would be better to stop at Punakaiki for the night to break that long day too.

Honolulu, Hawaii
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6. Re: 19 day South Island Itinerary Check

thanks PassarinhoAzul, WLnz, deSchenke, and zhuhai2007 for the excellent comments! Will revise this itinerary per your improvements.

7. Re: 19 day South Island Itinerary Check

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