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2 week tour in February

Exeter, United...
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for Torquay, Paignton, Brixham, English Riviera, Exeter
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2 week tour in February

Hello,

I have put together an itenerary for my parents trip to NZ in february next year and was keen to get some feedback. They are late 50's early 60's, dont want to spend all day every day in a car but happy to do the driving, will be hiring a car, not interested in the bungie jumping and white water rafting side to the country but more views and culture. My suggested plan is:

Day 1 - arrive Christchurch at lunchtime, spend afternoon / night in Christchurch

Day 2 - St Arthurs Pass (stoping along the way of course) up to Hokitika for the night

Day 3 - Hokitika to Fox, spend two nights here

Day 4 - Fox/Franz Josef

Day 5 - Fox to Wanaka, spend two nights here, exploring wanaka lake/mount aspiring national park and Haast pass

Day 6 - as above

Day 7 - Wanaka - Queenstown

Day 8 - Day trip to Milford Sound, returning to queenstown for the night

Day 9 - Queenstown

Day 10 - Queenstown to Oamaru, spend 2 nights there

Day 11 - Oamaru

Day 12 - Oamaru - Akaroa

Day 13 - Stay Akaroa for a second night

Day 14 - Return to Christchurch

Day 15 - (at silly o'clock in the morning) fly out.

Any tips/hints/places to see/places to avoid/good driving routes etc would be great.

Thanks

Greymouth, New...
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1. Re: 2 week tour in February

The Queenstown - Queenstown day 8, I suggest you do that as a tour by coach. The package deals available can be be all inclusive of bus, lunches and boat. The advantage is that your parents can elax a bit, listen to the comentary, and learn more about the unique region.

Two days in Oamaru? You may well have a reason to visit Oamaru so thats ok, but if you dont, you could include Dunedin as one option or perhaps travel inland via Tekapo and MtCook and Bipass Oamaru.

Day 13 two nights in Akaroa? one night would suffice, and spend a little time in Christchurch to unwind before the long flights home again.

And as you are upside down, it is 'down to Hokitika' Ha ah

Exeter, United...
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2. Re: 2 week tour in February

Hello again!

I was thinking of them doing the coach tour for the day to Milford Sounds - although i will be driving it at the end of August (mad..? Probably) i think the coach sounds a good idea for them!

Oamaru - there was no specific reason for choosing there, apart from they had a bella vista motel, so when i was looking for somewhere for them to stop along that way i took the lazy option and chose there for them. I have just grabed my two NZ guides and will re-look at this. Where ever they stay they will want to stay two nights (getting too old for travelling each day) and needs to be midway between Queenstown and Akaroa

Akaroa - i agree, and i had orginially placed them in Christchurch for 3 nights (one being the night before the silly o'clock flight) but mum has read something about CHCH not being very pleasant in the hot weather. They didnt seem all that keen on Chch generally. I stopped in Akaroa for only a few hours so didnt get to see it, but i am sure the area is very pretty, hopefully they will be happy there for two days, i expect they will not get there till late on day one (heading from Oamaru - or another location to be decided) and they will leave early on the day the head to Chch, so they will only have one full day there, an evening and a morning. they should be ok. Have found a very nice looking place there - Akaroa Village Inn, so have booked that just now.

They fly from Chch to Melbourne, so luckily not a massive flight.

Whats it like out there now, i have heard its quite chilly! We are experiencing lovely sun for a change. I am hoping spring will have started by the time i get there end August

Greymouth, New...
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3. Re: 2 week tour in February

The weather in NZ at the moment or the last week

The top of the north Island has taken a very heavy hammering with the loss of four lives. high winds , heavy seas and heavy rain / flooding.

The South island has had more snow in the high country which is great news for the ski industry.

The passes have been closed due to snow particularily in the mornings.

I have fitted chains 16 times this year when traveling to / from Christchurch compared to 10 times for the whole of last winter.

The icicles (at frozen water falls) are rather stunning.

Try Curling at naseby, excellent winter for Curling

Exeter, United...
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4. Re: 2 week tour in February

Oh dear, it doesnt sound too good in the North Island.

I think i will be having to get snow chains for the 4x4 i am hiring for the south island, especially when driving the Milford Road. I have never fitted them, or driven with them, but have been told they are not to hard to fit. I hope i wont need them as i dont expect it is much fun driving with them.

Do you do Arthurs Pass on your many trips to Chch?

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5. Re: 2 week tour in February

hi TC

One night in Oamaru is fine as your parents might enjoy watching the penguins come ashore. Alternatively they would love driving Queenstown to Aoraki/Mt Cook (the drive is stunning), stay at The Hermitage or Tekapo two nights before continuing to Akaroa. Another possibility is two nights in Dunedin. It's a lovely city with much to see; the Albatross Colony, penguins/seals, museums, gardens, stately homes and Larnach's Castle.

I would caution against driving on the Milford Road in August. The road is hazardous with ice/snow/avalanches and has a high rate of accidents. The scenery is stunning with many places to stop for views and it's actually much more relaxing, and safer, to sit back and let the trained alpine driver show their expertise. The bus stops at all the best views so you certainly won't miss anything. It's a lovely full day trip, enjoy :)

Greymouth, New...
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6. Re: 2 week tour in February

If you are not experienced in snow , ice driving, then I recommend that you use a coach service to Milford sound. The troule is with other vehicles who are not well equipped cause the road to be blocked and closes the road. 4X4 vehicles are not exempt from falling of the road in these condition, I see it often.

The coaches who drive into Milford sound must meet unit standards to be qualified to drive during the winter.

yes I drive Greymouth - Christchurch - Greymouth on a daily basis (4 on 3 off)

Exeter, United...
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7. Re: 2 week tour in February

Thanks Wanakalakes - we are now looking at other places in the areas you suggest as an alternative. My parents have ruled out Dunedin because that would add extra miles to their journey as it is going further south before they go north again.

I note both of your comments about Milford Sounds, some people say its fine, some people say avoid = i am just not sure any more. I woudl be reasonably happy with the coach, however my travel partner is quite short on funds and was wanting to save on money for the coach tour. However, i suspect that the cost of hiring snow chains would be about the same as the cost of the coach. Would you recommend i hired snow chains for the rest of my south island tour in August. Queenstown - Hasst - Franz Josef - Hokitika (thats all i have time for on my trip).

thanks

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8. Re: 2 week tour in February

Hi TC

Maps can be deceptive - the route Queenstown/Dunedin/Chch is 79kms longer than Queenstown/Oamaru/Chch... about one hour of driving :)

If you know what you are doing then fitting snow chains takes just a few minutes. If you are new to snow chains it can take 20 minutes of lying half under your car in the snow and slush. Again, I strongly recommend taking the bus into Milford in August. It will greatly enhance your enjoyment of the stunning scenery. And with the cost of petrol, taking the car won't necessarily save you much money.

You may also require snow chains on the Haast Pass which is occasionally closed/restricted due to snow.

McLean, Virginia
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9. Re: 2 week tour in February

My husband and I are a few years older than your parents and did the South Island for 3 weeks in 2004 (and wished we'd had 3 weeks). We have traveled the world, and this was one of our favorite trips. Some thoughts:

Christchurch: this warrants at least two days. The Antarctic museums (the historical one is in the Canterbury Museum; the geographic/natural history one is the International Antarctic Centre) are both excellent--and different from each other. The botanical gardens next to the Canterbury Museum were beautiful, as was canoeing along the River Avon (or you can punt or just walk along the path). The Arts Centre (a brilliant use of the former university) has many interesting restaurants and artists.

Akaroa: We drove out there and back in one day and walked the town (worthwhile). We drove back via the Summit Road, which was winding and narrow but great views. We don't mind driving roads like these; in fact, we often choose them.

Milford Sound: instead of taking the very long coach ride from Queenstown (it's a very long day), we drove the 2 hours to Te Anau and spent the night there. Friends had recommended the small tour company Trips n Tramps, which was excellent with good commentary, stops for short walks and coffee, and only 12 people in a small coach. We were picked up at 8:30 a.m. and returned about 5:30 p.m., a much saner and enjoyable trip than the tours from Queenstown. Try this website: www.milfordtourswalks.co.nz. Accommodations in Te Anau seem to fill up fast. We stayed the night before the tour and then drove back to Queenstown after the Milford Sound tour, but if you wanted to stay another night, there is also a cave near Te Anau with glowworms.

Wanaka: we loved this little town especially the Cinema Paradiso. This is a funky cinema that has sofas and armchairs instead of theatre seats and stops the movie in the middle for everyone to get food. And the food (and the ice cream) was very good. Go early to get a good sofa and to pre-order your food. www.paradiso.net.nz. There is also a famous airshow in Wanaka in late February and a Warbirds Museum. The owner of the B&B (Oak Tree B&B) we stayed in was affiliated with the museum and gave us a tour. The drive to Mt. Aspiring is beautiful--keep going as far as you can go, even up and down through the streams. My husband likes to hike, so he took off hiking while I read.

I know you aren't going there, but my favorite place in the South Island was the Abel Tasman national park at the north end. Spectacular.

Weather: I don't think your mother should worry about being too hot. We were very comfortable (and sometimes chilly), including in Christchurch.

I know your parents will love New Zealand. I'm just sorry it is so far away!

Exeter, United...
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10. Re: 2 week tour in February

Wanaka Lakes

You mentioned I may need the snow chains for Haast Pass. Although i am going to Haast (for a stop over on route) I am not intending, nor have the time to actually travel the pass itself. So, bearing in mind i will be sticking to the main route from Queenstown to the glaciers (via Haast township) Do you still think i need snow chains?

Luckily there is a man who can do all the scrambling under the car in the snow to fit them.