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South Island trip ideas

Los Angeles...
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South Island trip ideas

Hi We are planning to take a trip to S. Island for about 9 days. I have a few questions:

1. We are going to take Tranzalpine train from Christchurch to Greymouth and hire a car from there, drive to Queestown and back to Christchurch for a loop. Is it worth to pay $192 just for the train ride? We have four people and that adds up to almost $800. Ouch! Can we just hire a car and drive from Christchurch to Greymouth instead? Are we going to miss the fun for riding the train?

2. Do we need to take both tours of Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound? If not, then which one to take? Since we have a car, should we drive from Te Anau to the Sound and take the boat tour or don't drive instead, take the bus tour from Te Anau and take the boat tour?

3. We have been to Canadian Rocky Mountain National Park. We visited the glacier there. Is Fox Glacier very similar? Is it worth to visit it again?

4. I heard people talking about "there is a national park in S. Island that can not miss it" which one are they talking about?

Those are the questions I have so far. Looking forward to your answers. Thank you!

Te Anau
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1. Re: South Island trip ideas

Hi Wen, Welcome to the NZ forum.

IMO the drive from ChCh to the West Coast is every bit as good as the train trip, and at a saving of $800 is the best option.

I think that you would be a bit underwhelmed by Fox or Franz Joseph glaciers after the Canadian Rockies, but you will be driving right past them, and it's only a short drive and walk to the terminal face, so why not do it? The flights onto the Glacier are well worth the time and money, and if you didn't do that in Canada it would be a new experience.

You don't need to do both sounds, but they are sufficiently different that doing both if you have the time is a good option. If you decide on only one then I would say go for Milford Sound. The best option is to take a coach tour. It gives the driver a spell, and you will gain far more than just driving yourself (because of the commentary). These tours stop at all the good photo spots, so you won't miss out.

If you decide to drive yourself, leave early from Te Anau, and aim to take one of the earlier cruises,, 10am or 11am. These are less crowded, and you will have more time to stop on the return trip, either for short walks, or photo stops.

Not sure about the 'Can't Miss" national park, but you will be passing through quite a few of our national parks, and they are all great. Fiordland is the largest, and you will be in the Fiordland National Park when you go to Milford or Doubtful.

Hope this helps. Have a great holiday.

Queenstown, New...
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2. Re: South Island trip ideas

I agree with vbc.

A jet boat ride with the Waiatoto River Jet boat Safari at Haast would be something that you can not do any where else in the world.

If you are short on time? Why not fly from Queenstown to Milford sound. The flight over the Alps is often commented as the high light of the holiday.

Colorado
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3. Re: South Island trip ideas

I much prefer the drive over Arthur's Pass vs the train.

I also prefer self-driving to Milford Sound - more flexibility. I've done both Milford and Doubtful Sound - they're both good - getting to Doubtful and back takes a full day; it also costs considerably more and it's a bit of a waste IMO if the weather isn't cooperative. What you choose might depend on time and finances as much as anything.

No idea which national park you're referring to, but Mt Aspiring Nat'l Park is one of my personal favorites - you can get a nice taste of it by driving from QT to Glenorchy, and perhaps explore a track or take the Dart River Safari from there - gorgeous. The drive from QT to Glenorchy takes about 40-45 minutes.

Los Angeles...
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4. Re: South Island trip ideas

Thank you for all your reply and advises. We will drive to Greymouth instead of taking train as you all suggested. And we will try to drive to Milford Sound, but we must leave very early to give myself plenty of time in case get lost or can not drive fast since none of us have ever driven on the left side of the road.

Our tentative itinerary is: fly to Christchurch and hire a car and drive to the west coast and all the way down to QT and to the east to Dunedin, and then fly back to Auckland. The total time we have in South Island is 10 days. The detailed itinerary has yet to be decided. Do you think 10 days is enough for this route?

Molalla, Oregon
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5. Re: South Island trip ideas

These postings are most helpful because my wife and I are planning a trip to Australia and then over to the South Island from Brisbane. We plan to spend about 7-8 days in the south before going to Auckland where we will fly back home to Oregon.

My questions are: how many hours will it take us to drive from Christchurch to Queenstown (I've never driven on the left side of the road), can my wife and I take the coach tour from Te Anau, do a Milford Sound boat tour and return back to Te Anau for the night - all in one day's time? Any suggestions on Bed and Breakfast places to stay in Te Anau?

Los Angeles...
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6. Re: South Island trip ideas

Sandy: You can check this website for driving time and distance:

www.aatravel.co.nz/main/td-calculator.php

I have one more question to ask everyone:

Originally we are going to drive from Queenstown to Dunedin, and then fly back to Auckland as we heard that Dunedin is a nice place to visit. But what about Mount Cook? We can not drive from Queenstown to there and back on the same route, it just takes too much time on the road. So my other thought is to skip the Dunedin. Drive from Queenstown to Mount Cook and then to Christchurch and then fly to Auckland. In other words, We need to pick between Dunedin and Mount Cook. Which one is better? We do not like too much driving. What do you think?

New Zealand
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7. Re: South Island trip ideas

welcome to the forum Sandy :)

Post your questions on your own thread and we can then focus on your trip and your questions.

Auckland
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8. Re: South Island trip ideas

IMO I would skip to Dunedin and go and see Mt Cook. This is mainly because I prefer New Zealand's scenery to its cities.

New Zealand
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9. Re: South Island trip ideas

Queenstown to Dunedin is about 3.5 to 4 hours drive. Dunedin is a great city but you really need two nights, one full day there to make the most of your visit.

Queenstown to Aoraki/Mt Cook is over the Lindis Pass and it's one of my favourite drives in the world . Allow 3.5 hours to Aoraki with another 4.5 hours to Chch.

http://www.glacierexplorers.com/

Which is better? neither is better, they are each uniquely their own.

10. Re: South Island trip ideas

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