My family of 3 (myself, wife and 9yr old son) will be spending 9.5 days in NZ, arriving Feb 15 to Auckland, leaving Feb 25 from Queenstown (to Sydney).
We are planning to spend 4 days on North Island and 5.5 days on South Island.
Arriving on South Island on Feb 20, InterIslander ferry 8.25-11.35AM, renting a car from APEX so no luggage/car rental hassle, should be ready to go around noon.
I mapped the route for 3 days -- it goes through Westport, Franz Joseph, Haast. Here is the map:
Each of the days is roughly 4-5 hrs of pure driving, which should give us plenty of time to stop by and soak in NZ nature and culture (we'll have around 14 hours of daylight during this time of the year).
We are quite used to long drives (I do understand that driving in NZ is quite a bit slower compared to US) and treat driving in new places (particularly as beautiful as NZ) as part of the overall experience of the country, rather than a chore to get from one place to another. We’d rather spend 2 hrs on the road than in a restaurant or shopping :)
The most important criteria for us when selecting the route is:
1. It should be scenic.
2. Visiting National parks and taking short hikes (1-1.5 hrs).
3. We prefer nature made to man-made attractions, so mountains, volcanoes and ocean scenery are on top of the list.
Restaurants/wineries/shopping are not our primary goal when visiting NZ, although we would gladly visit them if it does not affect our other plans.
We are going to spend 3 nights in Queenstown and planning to do:
1. Milford Sound
3. Glenorchy drive (half day on the day of departure)
We are also considering East Coast route through CC and Mount Cook. I would appreciate any feedback on the route we are considering as well as any tips you might have.
Thanks for your help !