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3rd revision of itinerary and needing help....please

Nottingham, United...
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3rd revision of itinerary and needing help....please

My partner and I travel to New Zealand in Feb, it's likely to be our only trip for some time, maybe forever. We start in the North and will spend 6 days getting to the south island in our Base Jumper 2!

I don't want us to spend hours driving and looking at nothing and realise there's no way we can fit everything in but want to make the most of our time there. The original version took us from Wellington to Kaikoura (whale watching or dolphins?), across country via hammer springs but then down the coast to the Frans Josef, onto queenstown, Milford road, doubtful sound and then across the bottom to work our way back up to Christchurch

Then we revised it after hearing that Greymouth and the coast wasn't very exciting and was full of annoying sand flies! I also felt we were missing some beach R&R time, now revising it again to miss out the Catkins coast as its a long way and seems not to be the best use of our time

We both love scenery and LoR but relaxing is also important! Swimming and beaches are essential, So....revision 3 or maybe 4 is where we are....

Can you help.

here's our thinking;

16th Collect bus 11am

16th PM - Bay of islands 3hrs OVERNIGHT here

17th Bay of Islands OVERNIGHT here

18th AM Waipoua Forest - Tana Mahuta      1hr 15m

18th Head to Waitimo 5 hours OVERNIGHT Nelson maybe?

19th AM - Waitomo Caves 

19th PM - Rotorua & Wai-o-Tapu  2hrs OVERNIGHT here

20th AM - Rotorua & Wai-o-Tapu

20th PM - Lake Taupo & Tongarino  2hrs

20th LATE - Wellington  5hrs OVERNIGHT here

21st AM - Ferry Wellington to Picton  3hr crossing - do we need to book?

21st PM - Nelson & Kaiteriteri - beach, 3hrs OVERNIGHT here

22nd AM beach time

22nd PM - on to Kaikoura 3hrs OVERNIGHT 

23rd AM Dolphin Swim do we need to book? Recommend this or the whales?

23rd PM - Coast drive to Moeraki Boulders  6hrs OVERNIGHT somewhere along the way

24th AM visit Boulders etc

24th PM - head to Queenstown 3hrs 20m

25th Queenstown for the day

26th Milford Sound Road - all day OVERNIGHT Manapouri

27th Join overnight cruise of Doubtful Sound - I'm guessing we need to book

28th leave cruise head to mount Cook OVERNIGHT here

Is this leaving enough time in this area.

29th Frans Josef Glacier - do we need to book?

29th Overnight somewhere between here and Arthur's pass?

1st Head back to Christchurch via Arthur's pass

2nd fly to Auckland for a 5 day rest and wedding

We need to be back in Christchurch for a morning flight on 2nd March, happy to get there the evening before as I don't think we need any time in the city

Please help add some sanity here, we will compromise, already have in the North and in Marlborough (my fave Sauvignon region!), we would welcome some help!

Many many thanks

Sarah

Melbourne, Australia
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1. Re: 3rd revision of itinerary and needing help....please

Hi Sarah,

The beginning of your trip sounds fine but the end is a bit rushed. I would give Moeraki boulders a miss and head to Mt Cook from Kaikoura. Two nights at Mt Cook would give you the opportunity to do some walks and perhaps the Glacier Explorer boat trip. Then to Queenstown and the Sounds from there. From Manapouri, after your overnight cruise, (yes, you'll need to book this one) drive to Wanaka and overnight there before continuing on to the glaciers. The drive from the glaciers to Christchurch can easily be done in one hit.

Consider doing the dolphin swim in the Bay of Islands. The water will be warmer and you might even see whales there as well. We did on our trip. That way you could cross Kaikoura off the list which will give you a bit more time for relaxing and taking it all in. A good thing in your favour is that the days are nice and long at that time of year.

Hope that helps.

Edited: 05 January 2012, 21:39
Nottingham, United...
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2. Re: 3rd revision of itinerary and needing help....please

Hi

Thank you so much for your reply. I was worried about the south and whether we were rushing...hence the revisions!

I think we got stuck in our heads that the only place we could see and swim with the dolphins was Kaikoura but that came from originally wanting to see the whales - after reading reviews of the tours we were up off so switched to dolphins

Ok so strike Kaikoura off and head straight down more time at Mt Cook or enjoy a more leisurely day at the beaches near Nelson, maybe both!

Thanks again this is really useful and much appreciated

Regards

Sarah

New Zealand
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for South Island
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3. Re: 3rd revision of itinerary and needing help....please

hello Sarah :)

You have some extremely long drives planned in a fairly slow moving van. Your drives are optimistic if driving a rally car, not achievable in a van. Plus the drive Queenstown to Milford to Manapouri will take about 9 hours of non-stop driving, far longer if you stop to eat, rest cruise etc. The drive Aoraki/Mt Cook to Franz is a two day drive via Wanaka. There is no direct access due to the rather long mountain chain in the middle. And oh dear - more bad news - the drive Chch to Oamaru is generally acknowledge to be the least interesting drive in the S. Island. With your limited time, I suggest you plan to visit Milford or Doubtful, you don't have time for both.

and yes, most definitely book your ferry crossing.

The only way you will cram everything in;

21 ferry to Picton, drive to Kaiteriteri

22 explore

23 drive to Punakaiki

24 drive to Franz Josef

25 drive to Wanaka

26 drive to Te Anau

27 explore Milford, stay Te Anau

28 drive to Queenstown

29 drive to Aoraki/Mt Cook

1 drive to Chch

2 fly to Auckland

if this was my trip I would spend less time in the North Island and allow an extra day or two in the larger South Island. Most visitors are surprised at how long it takes to drive from place to place. I fear this trip will have you mainly driving. Can you fly back to Auckland from Queenstown?

best of luck :)

Colorado
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for Western Australia
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4. Re: 3rd revision of itinerary and needing help....please

<22nd PM - on to Kaikoura 3hrs OVERNIGHT>

From Kaiteriteri? If so, the drive will take you over four hours.

<Then we revised it after hearing that Greymouth and the coast wasn't very exciting and was full of annoying sand flies!>.

WHAT??? Sandflies yes, but the West Coast has incredible scenery!

<27th Join overnight cruise of Doubtful Sound - I'm guessing we need to book>

ABSOLUTELY.

<29th Frans Josef Glacier - do we need to book?>

Accommodation in February, yes. Activities, yes.

Moeraki boulders? Definitely not worth going out of one's way for. The east coast south of Christchurch is the least scenic part of the SI IMO. So many much prettier options.

The SI portion sounds really rushed to me. Not what I consider relaxing, but different strokes and all that.

Nottingham, United...
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5. Re: 3rd revision of itinerary and needing help....please

Hmmmm...here comes revision 4/5, thought we were pushing it,

Ok so we drop the east coast and we drop Kaikoura, bring more deet for the west and review what we will have time for.

We have to drop the camper off in Christchurch unfortunately, looking at wilderness campers it's the only option

So here's a question for you... Given what we have dropped off the list, what would you propose and would you drop the overnight cruise in doubtful sound in favour of more time in the mt cook region and the Milford drive?

This is hard, I don't think we could shave off any more time in the North without losing some R&R time at the bay of island and dolphin swimming which we really fancy

We have to get the flight to Auckland on 2nd, the wedding is on the 3rd, we fly back to the uk on the afternoon of 6th, we won't have a car and have a hotel booked for that period but we could hire one if you t it wou be worth doing some of the northern stuff when we get back to Auckland on 4th and 5th to free up some time

This is really great advice thank you

Edited: 06 January 2012, 11:40
Nottingham, United...
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6. Re: 3rd revision of itinerary and needing help....please

Update....

I've asked the question about dropping off in Queenstown and flying up from there....just waiting for everyone to wake up so they can answer :)

Also thinking to go to Waipoua forest on our way to Bay of islands and then after the couple of days up there drive straight down to Waitomo....is this do-able, we could shave a day off north that way and catch a late ferry to Picton on 20th

16th tana mahuta stop off

16th Pm Bay of islands overnight

17th bay of islands dolphins overnight

18th Waitomo to caves - 5hrs40 - overnight here or head to Rotorua 

19th Rotorua for the day overnight at Taupo

20th head to wellington for ferry..late ferry crossing to Picton and then get as far as is comfortable driving towards Kaiteriteri and overnight there (maybe Havelock for mussel supper/breakfast)

Thoughts?

Edited: 06 January 2012, 14:47
New Zealand
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7. Re: 3rd revision of itinerary and needing help....please

You just have too many miles to cover in too few days. Getting no sleep on the night of the 20th is not actually a solution. Driver fatigue is the main cause of NZ road accidents.

You really need a few extra days to do your planned South Island trip in any form of comfort.

My suggestions - (do one or all of these below) -

- reduce your itinerary. In 10 days you can only comfortably see either the top half or the lower half of the South Island, not both

- ditch the campervan, rent a car and stay in hostels. You will save time on the road and save money

- tell the boss you need longer on holiday

- on arrival in NZ head directly to the South Island. After the wedding spend those few remaining days seeing what you can of the North Island

You have some hard decisions to make - best of luck :)

Nottingham, United...
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8. Re: 3rd revision of itinerary and needing help....please

Hi

Thanks for the advice

We are making some tough decisions tonight on what we can and can't do, we will be sleeping overnight on 20th when we get to havelock and not move anywhere until fit the next day, final revisions being made and then if you would be so kind perhaps you'd sanity check it for us

I should have mentioned that we've already followed your suggestions for the coast and incorporated this into our plans with longer stays and shorter drives, we are just now deciding on doubtful or Milford sound, whether we want to go to mount cook or not and a few other little bits like not going to Waitomo to see the glow worms but in fact seeing them from Te anau where wil will have a day!

Thanks again it's so easy to look and think its not far as its a small island and great to have a reality check that actually its quite far when you consider what we will be driving and the winding roads!

Back soon for your thoughts - hope you don't mind

Sarah

Nottingham, United...
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9. Re: 3rd revision of itinerary and needing help....please

Well here it is....our latest attempt...be honest (I know you will be)

We have tried to spend more time in places to break up the driving and think the cruise will work better than more driving in a busy area, a bit more rest....

16th pick up bus

16th Head to Bay of islands, overnight here, tana mahuta stop off if not too tired otherwise leave until 17th - 1hr 15m away

17th All day at bay of islands, dolphin swim,overnight here again

18th Head down to Rotorua , overnight here or on the way -  5hrs40, Waitomo open until 6.30pm if we have the energy and time otherwise glow worms in Te Anau

19th Rotorua for the day and on to Taupo, overnight here or closer to Wellington

20th head to wellington for ferry with lunch stop en route, 5hrs

Ferry at 6.25pm

20th Arrive Picton 9.40pm, head towards Blenheim 25 mins overnight here

21st leave Blenheim for Nelson via havelock for lunch overnight Nelson

22nd Nelson & Kaiteriteri overnight here again

23rd head to Punakaiki 3 hrs 30 overnight here

24th head to Franz Josef  2hrs 54 

24th drive to Wanaka or somewhere on the way overnight here 3hrs 37

25th Wanaka to Queenstown 1hr 30 overnight here

26th drive to Te Anau and spend the day here and overnight

27th join cruise on doubtful sound at 8.15am overnight cruise

28th return from cruise at around noon, drive from Te Anau to Queenstown 3hrs 45 overnight at Glenorchy maybe?

29th  Queenstown to Mt Cook 3hrs 45, spend the afternoon and overnight Mt Cook

1st leave Mt Cook for Christchurch 4hrs 39, no rush as leave Christchurch morning of 2nd

What do you think. Do we need to shorten something or miss something out? Does something stand out as impossible or really silly?

Thank again everyone this is really helpful

Cheers

Sarah

New Zealand
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10. Re: 3rd revision of itinerary and needing help....please

Hi Sarah :)

It's better but most of your drive times are still impossible. It takes a car driven at the maximum speed limits 4 hours to drive Franz to Wanaka - most visitors take 6 hours or more if stopping to lunch, sightsee etc. It will take about 20% longer by campervan. car drive times here www.aatravel.co.nz/main/td-calculator.php

Plus why the two short stops in Queenstown? You can streamline your trip by going;

24 drive to Wanaka

25 drive to Manapouri

26 Doubtful overnight

27 drive to Queenstown

28 explore

29 drive to Aoraki/Mt Cook

Here's all the info you need on camping - if you have a campervan with shower and toilet you might like to consider the DOC campsites as well as the commercial camps http://www.camping.org.nz/

happy travels :)