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What can't we miss on South Island?

california
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What can't we miss on South Island?

We are headed to the South Island in a week (arrive Feb 25)for a 21 day trip in a campervan. We were in New Zealand 2 years ago and naively thought we could do the North and South Island in 21 days. We realized that was an impossible task. We did see enough of the North Island in our campervan but came up way short on the South. So we are coming back to finish the job! We have read and researched what to see and where to go. We have read the blogs and have looked at maps and websites. We want to see everything that everyone talks about but we know that's not going to happen, realistically. We will be starting in Christchurch and want to concentrate on the south half. Basically down to the Catlins and up to Arthur's Pass. What should we absolutely not miss? Last time we drove a lot and didn't stop much to explore, a beautiful drive but not too relaxing. Any suggestions from those in the know would be appreciated. What is the best way to see Milford Sound? Coach-cruise-fly? Who is the best tour company to do Milford with? Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.

Oz
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1. Re: What can't we miss on South Island?

Hi,

What are your interests?

My can't miss sights or sites include:

Fiordland.

Mt Cook.

The glaciers.

The Crown Range Rd between Wanaka and Arrowtown.

The wineries around Cromwell.

The Shotover river from a jet boat.

Skippers Canyon.

Queenstown from the top of the chair at the Remarks.

Lakes Tekapo, Wakatipu and Wanaka.

Cheers,

South Island
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2. Re: What can't we miss on South Island?

The pick of the the South Island is Golden Bay, the West Coast and the Wanaka, Queenstown, Fiordland area. In my opinion coach cruise fly Milford Sound from Queenstown is the only way to go. Who is the best tour company?Impossible to answer unless one has recently used them all. The most comfortable way to travel is in a half full luxury coach which allows everyone to spread out. The smaller companies are more likely to be the best bet. If you book direct 1 or 2 days prior to travel, some of the tour companies may be able to tell you how full their coaches will be.

Have a good trip.

New Zealand
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3. Re: What can't we miss on South Island?

Take a look at the Catlins forum for ideas tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g1746108-i20319-Th…

My favourite beach is Cannibal Bay - plan at least half a day there and walk along the beach to Serat Bay - lots of sea lions and elephant seals lazing in the sand dunes.

And yes, the bus/cruise/fly option is, I think, the ultimate way to enjoy Milford.

Happy planning :)

Queenstown, New...
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4. Re: What can't we miss on South Island?

A flight over the Alps either from Wanaka Queenstown or Te Anua

Auckland Central...
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5. Re: What can't we miss on South Island?

Hamner Springs hot springs resort is awesome to visit - about and hour and half north of Christchurch. Has great mountain biking tracks and cool shops and restaurants also.

Driving to Milford sound yourselves is a wonderfully scenic drive with lots of quick stop short walks. Stay in Te Anau the night before - right by the lake and very pretty. We did a trip in kayaks on Milford sound - not to be missed - half day and early start but you beat the crowds. Very easy to do and great fun.

Queenstown and Mt Cook are the other not miss places.

London
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6. Re: What can't we miss on South Island?

I've just done the South Island and it was amazing! I know you want to concentrate on the Southern part but if you can give a day to Kaikoura we had our best experience there, swimming with Dolphins in the sea. It's the best money we've spent so far - no gimmicks, the trip organisers (Dolphin Encounter) just know where to take you off the coast of Kaikoura and before you know it you're floating in the ocean surrounded by Dolphins.

We chose to do Doubtful Sound over Milford Sound and did a day's kayaking there. It's more expensive but much more remote and just as, if not more beautiful, I hear. We only saw one other small group of kayaks while were there and really loved how personal it felt. We also had friends who did Milford Sound on the same day and they said they regretted just doing a boat trip as after a while it got a bit samey. But obviously it's each to their own! If you have a car I would recommend staying in Te Anau the night before you do your trip as it is at the start of the scenic route to Milford Sound and right near Doubtful Sound- if doing a Milford Sound trip you can then do the scenic drive yourself and stop to take photos when you want. You will also save yourself half of the journey/coach journey between Queenstown and Milford. If you Google map Queenstown to Milford and Te Anau to Milford you'll see what I mean! From Queenstown it's definitely worth taking a couple of hours to drive to Glenorchy- the reflections on the lake are incredible. And finally, our other favourite was a one day hike on Fox Glacier and it was brilliant- we had 6 hours exploring the glacier and it was so good!! Have an amazing time!!!

London
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7. Re: What can't we miss on South Island?

Sorry just saw the other post that mentioned Te Anau- what they said!! ;-)

Edited: 18 February 2013, 11:31
TX
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8. Re: What can't we miss on South Island?

Mt Cook

Okinawa, Japan
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9. Re: What can't we miss on South Island?

I spent 9 days and drove clockwise starting from Christ Church coming back around via Arthur's Pass. The highlight for me was Canyoning in Wanaka and the full day Fox Glacier hike. I used NakedBus for a 1 day trip to Milford Sound going by coach. We wanted to save our $ for doing other things so opted to stick with coach and NakedBus seems to have the best pricing. The way they worked was that they seem to aggregate multiple tours companies together. Another words, I paid for the same service but at a lower price than the guy behind me.

Here's a link to my 9 day itinerary of South Island if you're interested. We …wordpress.com/2013/…

california
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10. Re: What can't we miss on South Island?

Thank you all for your suggestions. We are on our way. We have an agenda but are flexible enough to make changes. I will post our trip when we return. Anyone headed to Norhtern California and need some information please feel free to give me a shout. Thank you all again we are really excited.