We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

6 day driving holiday in South Island (late Dec 2010)

sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
22 posts
2 reviews
Save Topic
6 day driving holiday in South Island (late Dec 2010)

Hi All,

I know you come across these posts often, and i can see similar ones on the south island forum. I have read some and will endeavour to read/research many more before we go.

However i'm hoping that someone passionate :) about the south island (local or familiar traveller) can assist with the planning of an itinery.

A little background: i'll be travelling with my gf, we're both 34, love food and wine, and never been to NZ before. As most do, we're hoping to take in the natural beauty of the south island on this trip, so we'd like to plan our days accordingly. nothing overly active, i dont know whether i'd bungy jump or jump out of a plane (though it's almost a must-do when anyone talks about NZ), but would love to go for a day-trip canoing on rivers winding through the base of mountains and forests.

It will be a driving holiday. Starting and ending in Christchurch (Mon 27 Dec 2010 > Sun 2 Jan 2011). We're flying into Christchurch form Sydney and renting a car from the airport.

oh and a little secret, i'm going to propose to my gf on this trip (i'll have my precioussss with me) so would also be thankful to ideas of where, somewhere breathtaking, i can do this.

our accomodation has not been determined, as it will be based on where we go/are each day. but we're not princesses, we're happy to stay in motels as much as we'd be prepared to pay $$$ to stay in a 5-star facility. it all depends, i guess on whether we're just stopping the night, or staying in a region for a couple/few days and using that place as a base for day trips.

my very basic route is to drive from Christchurch > Dunedin > Invercargill > Te Anau > Queenstown > Christchurch.

probably spending 2 nights in Queenstown?

with only 7 days i know i cant see even most things the south has to offer, so would probably focus on seeing a few good spots rather than trying to see too much.

would love to hear your suggestions!

thanks

ben

Christchurch, New...
Level Contributor
327 posts
18 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: 6 day driving holiday in South Island (late Dec 2010)

Hi there, before anything else I hope you have booked your rental car and your accommodation, otherwise it isnt going to be a fun trip!!

New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
Level Contributor
28,297 posts
74 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: 6 day driving holiday in South Island (late Dec 2010)

Hello Ben

I'm sorry to say that 7 days just won't do it. Plus your planned route isn't the most scenic. With your limited time you are probably best to forego Dunedin and Invercargill and just drive one way Queenstown to Chch.

You could;

27 arrive Chch, fly to Queenstown (or better yet, fly directly into Q'town)

28 explore, bungee, jet boat

29 bus/cruise Milford Sound, bus or fly back to Queenstown

30 drive to Wanaka, skydive

31 river or lake kayaking, heli-flight to propose in the snow?

1 drive to Aoraki/Mt Cook, explore Tasman glacier icebergs

2 drive to Chch, fly home

look for accommodation on www.wotif.com

hope this helps, best of luck :)

sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
22 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: 6 day driving holiday in South Island (late Dec 2010)

quin2930 - tryiing to get that all sorted now. understandably accomodation bookings come after itinerary, so hoping everything falls into place at this 11th hr

WanakaLakes -

thanks very much for that breakdown. yeh i know 7 days is just too short to see much of the south island. and after doing a bit more reading from the tourism.net.nz website about the regions of the South Island, i have to agree with you and will skip Dunedin and Invercargill.

your suggested itinerary looks very agreeable! the only place i wanted to possibly spend a little more time was the Fiiordland national park. would you suggest fitting this in and leaving out one of the others? or are those listed your best pick?

cheers

ben

New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
Level Contributor
28,297 posts
74 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: 6 day driving holiday in South Island (late Dec 2010)

To have longer in Fiordland you could;

27 arrive Chch, fly to Queenstown (or better yet, fly directly into Q'town)

28 explore

29 drive to Milford, explore, drive to Te Anau

30 explore more

31 drive to Wanaka

1 drive to Aoraki/Mt Cook

2 drive to Chch, fly home

However.... I doubt you will find any Wanaka accommodation for one night on New Years Eve, most places have a minimum night stay. On my previous suggested itinerary you wouldn't need a rental car until the 31st. Now you would require a few extra days rental.

if this was my trip I would go with the first itinerary and plan a future trip over this way to explore more :)

sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
22 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: 6 day driving holiday in South Island (late Dec 2010)

ok thanks for the affirmation. ill stick with the first plan.

i plugged the destinations as you sugegsted in that order, into Google maps-Direction by road, and for the leg from Aoraki/Mt Cook to Fox Glacier, it appears to show that i need to back track down SW along hwy 8 towards Wanaka again before heading westerly to the Westcoast along hwy 6 to get to the Fox Glacier....a huge circle of 457km! when the glacier is geographically about 30km NW from the point where Google Maps marked Mt Cook national park?? a little confused.

can i visit both from either side of the national park? or do i need to follow this 457km route if i wanted to see both?

thanks!

New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
Level Contributor
28,297 posts
74 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: 6 day driving holiday in South Island (late Dec 2010)

well you didn't mention Fox in your wish list and if you had, I would have pointed out that Fox and Aoraki/Mt Cook are opposite sides of a rather large mountain chain.

You will just have to come back for another (much longer) visit to see what you miss this time around :)

New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
Level Contributor
28,297 posts
74 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: 6 day driving holiday in South Island (late Dec 2010)

sorry, the above post wasn't meant to read so snippy...

Yep, the Southern Alps running down the spine of the South Island and effectively cutting the island into two halves can be pesky if wanting to get from one side to the other. But all the more reason to return for another visit :)

sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
22 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: 6 day driving holiday in South Island (late Dec 2010)

hehe no worries, i didnt read it as snipy. i guess im letting enthusiasm get in the road of what's achievable.

i actually thought when you suggested going to Mt Cook and explore the glaciers, that you meant explore Fox Glacier. so im presuming there are glacier's on the Mt Cook national park 'side'?

i take it also that with your last response you would still suggest keeping with Mt Cook over Fox Glacier

thanks!

:)

sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
22 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: 6 day driving holiday in South Island (late Dec 2010)

i only ask that choice because obviously when i come down to queenstown on day1, i will be driving the same rd that i take on the way back to christchurch, if i go with the Mt Cook option.

whereas doing the Fox Glacier route (if its worth it) will give me a opportunity to see new scenery, hugging the coast on the way back

New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
Level Contributor
28,297 posts
74 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: 6 day driving holiday in South Island (late Dec 2010)

Aoraki/Mt Cook has NZ's longest glacier, the Tasman. http://www.glacierexplorers.com/

The drive Queenstown to Chch direct takes about 7 hours (which is why I suggested you fly there on day 1).

The drive from Q'town with a detour to Aoraki/Mt Cook takes 4 hours, another 5 hours to Chch which is why it is best done in 2 days.

the drive Q'town - Chch via the West Coast takes a minimum of two days... to Fox takes about 5.5 hours non-stop... Fox to Chch is another 6 hours.

If wanting to see it all then you need to extend your visit;

1 arrive Chch

2 drive Arthur's Pass to Punakaiki

3 drive to Franz or Fox, explore glaciers

4 drive to Wanaka :)

5 explore

6 drive to Te Anau

7 explore Milford, stay Te Anau

8 drive to Queenstown

9 explore

10 more

11 drive to Aoraki/Mt Cook

12 explore

13 drive to Chch

14 fly home