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13 days in South Island

Bengaluru, India
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13 days in South Island

Hi guys,

My fiance and I are planning our honeymoon in South Island later this year. This forum has already been immensely helpful to come up with a tentative itinerary:

31 Dec – Arrive at Auckland by flight & fly out to Christchurch

1 Jan – Explore Christchurch

2 Jan – Drive to Nelson & explore

3 Jan – Abel Tasman

4 Jan – Drive to Franz Josef

5 Jan – Explore, Lake Matheson, Helihike

6 Jan – Drive to Wanaka, explore, stay the night

7 Jan – Drive to Queenstown, explore

8 Jan – Adventure sports in & around Queenstown, explore

9 Jan – Drive to Te Anau, see Glow Worm Caves

10 Jan – Day trip to Milford Sound, stay the night at Te Anau

11 Jan – Drive to Dunedin, explore

12 Jan – Day trip to Catlins, stay the night at Dunedin

13 Jan – Fly back to Auckland for return flight to Bombay

Questions:

1. Are we packing too much in a short time?

2. I'm planning to rent a drive from Christchurch. Is it possible to return it in Dunedin?

3. Will the drive from Nelson to Franz Josef be a little too much in a day?

4. Punakaiki & Mt. Cook are the two other places we were considering. Would you suggest skipping any of the places in the itinerary in favor of either of the two I mentioned?

5. Any other suggestions? :)

Many Thanks,

Aditya

Wanaka, New Zealand
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1. Re: 13 days in South Island

I would drop either Nelson (Abel Tasman) and/or Dunedin.You are moving a lot, and not really staying anywhere long enough to see it properly. Less is More! You Could do Christchurch to Christchurch circuit via Arthurs Pass and then, glaciers, then Queenstown, Milford and Mt. Cook onthe way back. Search 10-14 day trips on here and you will see what I mean.

Edited: 24 August 2013, 06:53
Ballarat, Australia
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2. Re: 13 days in South Island

You have a lot of long days driving. These are the sort of days a local might drive to get somewhere quickly, but as a tourist you'll be driving straight past a lot of sights, and doing this repeatedly gets very tiring.

Also a honeymoon, especially, should be relaxing! In 14 days I would suggest as a maximum you choose either Arthur's Pass and south, or Queenstown and north. There isn't time to do the whole island unless you're going at breakneck speed. (In fact for a honeymoon I would focus on one region with time for relaxed exploring, eg top of the South, or Queenstown and the alps, but I understand the urge to see as much as possible when you've come so far.)

The other option is to cut some drive time out by flying. eg fly to Nelson on day one if your international flight gets in in time.

New Zealand
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3. Re: 13 days in South Island

Welcome to the forum Aditya, and congratulations on your honeymoon :)

I think you have planned really well but yes, I do have a couple of changes to suggest;

31 arrive Auckland, fly to Christchurch

1 drive Lewis Pass to Nelson and continue to Kaiteriteri

2 explore Abel Tasman

3 drive to Punakaiki

4 drive to Franz Josef

5 explore, heli-hike

6 drive to Wanaka

7 drive to Queenstown

8 explore

9 drive to Te Anau, Glow Worm Caves

10 explore Milford Sound, stay Te Anau

11 drive through Catlins to Dunedin

12 explore

13 fly to Auckland, fly home

Hope this helps, happy honeymoon :)

Bengaluru, India
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4. Re: 13 days in South Island

Thanks a ton you all for the quick responses. I've decided to skip either Nelson or Dunedin.

Kaiteriteri & Abel Tasman seem more appealing to me but just concerned about the driving time from Chrtistchurch to Nelson / Kaiteriteri. We'll stop enroute for sure, so looks like almost the entire day will be spent driving. I'm inclined to think that's okay, as long as the road is scenic. Thoughts?

At this stage, I'm pretty much certain about the itinerary from Franz Josef onwards (except Dunedin) and I can increase my stay by a day at one of those places.

If I do leave Nelson out, another option is to take the TranzAlpine from Christchurch to Greymouth and rent a car from there for the onward journey to Franz Josef. How is this option compared to driving?

Thanks,

Aditya

Ballarat, Australia
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5. Re: 13 days in South Island

Christchurch to Nelson is a long day, but most of the road is scenic. You could drive to Kaikoura after only one night in Christchurch to make a head start. Another option would be to take the train from Christchurch to Picton to reduce the drive time - the train is even more scenic than driving as it hugs the coast more closely. You see mountains, wild beaches and wildlife from the train. Then you could pick up your car from Picton, leaving you with a short scenic drive via Queen Charlotte Drive to Nelson.

The Tranzalpine train is great for rail enthusiasts as there are lots of tunnels and bridges, but the road is more scenic and there are good walks to do at Arthur's Pass.

I think you would be wise to cut some corners - Nelson and/or Dunedin would be the obvious choices. Nelson is wonderful but it is adding a lot of drive time.

New Zealand
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6. Re: 13 days in South Island

Chch through Lewis Pass to Nelson and Kaiteriteri takes just over 5 hours, plus stops.

Visitors avarage 6 hours to drive Franz to Wanaka, with brief stops.

te Anau through the Catlins to Dunedin takes all day with stops.

One of the joys of NZ travel is the journey getting from location to location.

When exactly do you plan to visit? - the TranzAlpine is best in the winter months. The rest of the year the road is the more scenic option.

Bengaluru, India
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7. Re: 13 days in South Island

Thanks Jean, the train option is indeed tempting. Nelson, I plan to visit end of the year (Dec 31 - Jan 13). Updated itinerary below:

31 Dec – Arrive at Auckland by flight & fly out to Christchurch (stay ChCh)

1 Jan – Explore Christchurch (stay ChCh)

2 Jan – Train to Picton & rent a drive to Kaiteriteri (stay Kai)

3 Jan – Day trip to Abel Tasman (stay Kai)

4 Jan – Drive to Franz Josef [long drive] (stay FJG)

5 Jan – Explore, Helihike (stay FJG)

6 Jan – Drive to Wanaka [long drive] (stay Wanaka)

7 Jan – Explore Wanaka (stay Wanaka)

8 Jan – Drive to Te Anau, see Glow Worm Caves (stay Te Anau)

9 Jan – Day trip to Milford Sound (stay Te Anau)

10 Jan – Drive to Queenstown, explore (stay QT)

11 Jan – Adventure sports, explore Queenstown (stay QT)

12 Jan – Explore Queenstown & take evening flight to Auckland (stay AKL)

13 Jan – Explore Auckland (if possible) & return flight to Bombay

I guess this one looks a little more relaxing than the one I posted at the top of this thread... There are two long drives in there but I don't want to skip Abel Tasman & Kaiteriteri; read a lot about them... :)

I've decided to end at Queenstown because of the flight availability to Auckland for the return international flight and also because I can return the car in QT. So it's Wanaka to Te Anau directly; and then to QT.

Thanks a lot guys; this is helping a lot.

Cheers,

Aditya

Wanaka, New Zealand
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8. Re: 13 days in South Island

It's looking better. The Kaiteriteri to Franz Josef drive will be a long day. I would check that you can actually find accommodation in Kaiteriteri for that time of the year. You are going there in absolute peak season. It will be absolutely heaving with people. You may find it difficult to get accommodation already as it's the sort of place that gets booked out a year in advance. You are there on 2 Jan, so the New year crowd will still be around. Even if you look at staying in Motueka and doing a day trip, accommodation will be getting booked up.

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9. Re: 13 days in South Island

Bangalore, Kaiteriteri to Franz is a long exhausting drive - 6 hours non-stop driving, considerably longer with lunch, loo, sightseeing etc.

Driver fatigue is the main cause of NZ road accidents so please reconsider.

Wanaka, New Zealand
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10. Re: 13 days in South Island

And the roads will be super busy on NY Eve also, so not the easiest driving conditions.