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Help with Driving Routes: CHC-->Franz Joseph-->Queenstown

Singapore, Singapore
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Help with Driving Routes: CHC-->Franz Joseph-->Queenstown

Hello all,

Hoping to get some advice on suggested driving routes for my upcoming trip next week.

Here's our itinerary:

- We're flying into CHC and will be driving straight to Kaikoura where we'll stay overnight and do a whale watching tour early that next morning. After the tour we'll be heading straight out and driving to...

- Franz Joesph Glacier, where we'll stay overnight and head towards the glaciers the next morning. After that we'll head out later that day to...

- Queenstown: we'll be staying two nights here and one of the days take a tour to Milford Sound. The other day will be doing some activities around town.

A few points / questions:

1) Would like to drive through Mt. Cook / along Lake Tekapo on the way to Franz Joseph from Kaikoura. Is there a side road off SH 8 that will allow us to pass by both on the way to Franz Joseph?

2) What route would you suggest the next day from Franz Joesph to Queenstown?

3) Would you recommend flying or driving back to Christchurch or leaving the car in QT and flying back? If we drive, we'll have to do it all in one day.

We have a total of 6 days to get all this in. Dates in NZ are Oct 18-23rd.

Thanks in advance for the help!

Marc

New Zealand
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for South Island
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1. Re: Help with Driving Routes: CHC-->Franz Joseph-->Queenstown

Marc, welcome to the forum :)

Sorry I have no happy news for you, but your schedule is crazy.

Points to consider -

- best not to drive on arrival in NZ after a long overnight flight with little to no sleep. Driving jet lagged is a proven recipe for disaster - there have been some horrific accidents.

- at this time of year the first whale watch is 10am, subject to bookings and weather. Allow 3.5 hours for the tour followed by at least 30 minutes for lunch - you won't be on the road before 2pm then have a drive of 6.5 hours in front of you - considerably longer of you stop for sightseeing, photos, resting, loos and food. Little point, and no safety, in driving in the pitch dark - NZ rural roads have no street lighting.

- The drive Franz to Queenstown is another long drive on a challenging road. The route - there is only one road to take - is narrow, steep, twisty and has about 20 one lane bridges to negotiate. Many visitors overnight in Wanaka to make the drive more manageable.

- the Milford Road is currently closed to all traffic due to a rock slide. You can still fly in, they hope to have one lane of the road reopened on Wednesday.

1 - Franz is one side of the Southern Alps, Aoraki/Mt Cook is one the opposite side - it is a two day drive from one side to the other.

2 - only one road - no alternatives

This is a punishing schedule and not safe planning. driver fatigue is the number one cause of NZ road accidents - please reconsider and plan wisely.

one possibility;

1 arrive Chch, fly to Queenstown

2 explore

3 bus/cruise Milford Sound, bus back to Q'town - if the road is open

4 collect rental car, drive to Franz - long drive

5 drive to Hokitika

6 drive to Chch, fly home

or take the easier driving of:

1 arrive Chch, fly to Queenstown

2 explore

3 bus/cruise Milford Sound, bus back to Q'town - if the road is open

4 collect rental car, drive to Wanaka

5 drive to Aoraki/Mt Cook

6 drive to Chch, fly home

hope this helps :)

Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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2. Re: Help with Driving Routes: CHC-->Franz Joseph-->Queenstown

Love your name - but not the itinerary - yikes!!

If the Milford Road is still closed you might still be able to fly in, but 6 days is not long enough to drive both ways from Chch to QTN.

Singapore, Singapore
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3. Re: Help with Driving Routes: CHC-->Franz Joseph-->Queenstown

Thanks to you both for your advice. I was worried it might be a little too aggressive of a time frame. :)

I think I should clarify a few things:

1) We're coming in from Singapore overnight. I'm a very experienced business traveler and my girlfriend is an air stewardess so we're both accustomed to hitting the ground running when we land.

2) I'm from Texas so I'm accustomed to pulling long hours in a car & driving in rural areas at night.

That said, I do heed your advice and I'm changing our plans.

-I'm canceling our hotel and plans to visit Franz Joseph glacier

-After an overnight and the tour in Kaikoura, we will fly from CHC to Queenstown and follow your suggestions.

Just a follow-up question to your suggestion to drive from Queenstown to Wanaka-->Mt. Cook.

I'm assuming driving from Queenstown to Mt. Cook in a day is not that challenging? Do you just take SH 8A and 8 all the way from Wanaka to Aoraki / Mt. Cook? Do you have a suggested hotel?

We would then follow your suggestion and drive from Aoraki back to CHC.

Thanks again WanakaLakes for your detailed advice! It's much appreciated!

Edited: 14 October 2012, 16:08
New Zealand
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for South Island
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4. Re: Help with Driving Routes: CHC-->Franz Joseph-->Queenstown

Smart move :)

And considering your short time frame in Queenstown, I would skip Wanaka this trip. The drive Q'town to Aoraki/Mt Cook (or Wanaka to Aoraki) is an easy drive through Lindis Pass - the scenery is pretty amazing.

Stay at the Hermitage with mountain view room - just beautiful.

Happy travels :)

Christchurch, New...
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5. Re: Help with Driving Routes: CHC-->Franz Joseph-->Queenstown

Just watch your speed on the road from Queenstown to Christchurch. It is one of those roads that whisper "go faster". There are always cops on it, mufty and in plain sight. They don't have any tolerance as their sense of humour has been removed. Unpaid fines lead to convictions on your name which could make entry into some coutries "interesting"

You dates inlude Labour Week end, a typical "blitz" period for speed enforcement. Don't hit the ground running too fast.

Singapore, Singapore
7 posts
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6. Re: Help with Driving Routes: CHC-->Franz Joseph-->Queenstown

Thank you so much! We are both very grateful for your help!

Singapore, Singapore
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7. Re: Help with Driving Routes: CHC-->Franz Joseph-->Queenstown

Duly noted, Mike. Thanks for the advice. Will keep it in check. Seems highway law enforcement types all over the world are the same, ie. have surrendered their sense of humor cards. ;)

Joking aside, with the road conditions you see in NZ and lots of tourists from different countries with varying driving skill levels, I can understand the need to keep things under control on NZ's roads. I can remember reading just recently here in the papers that a young Singaporean couple were tragically killed in a head-on collision with another vehicle after crossing over the centerline.

8. Re: Help with Driving Routes: CHC-->Franz Joseph-->Queenstown

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