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13 Days Self Drive South Island

Kuala Lumpur...
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13 Days Self Drive South Island

Hi. Husband & I are traveling round South Island for the first time late Oct this year and am pretty excited for this trip coz we heard so much bout beautiful NZ. We would appreciate if you guys can let us know if our itenery works out ok. Both of us will take turns driving, so it won't be too tiring for those long driving journeys.

Day 1 : Arrive CHC @ 2pm. Drive up and overnight at Kaikoura.

Day 2 : Whale watching at Kaikora. Drive up and overnight in Nelson.

Day 3 : Full day at Abel Tasman National Park.

Day 4 : Drive from Nelson - Lake Rotoroa - Cape Fowlwind - Punakaki - Hokitika Gorge. Overnight at Hokitika.

Day 5 : Drive to Fox Glacier, half day walk at Fox Trot, explore lake Matheson, perhaps gillespies beach, then overnight at Franz Joseph.

Day 6 : Drive to Lake Paringa - Lake Moeraki - Blue Pools and explore & overnight at Queenstown.

Day 7 : Explore Queenstown, drive and overnight at Te Anau.

Day 8 Doubtful Sound cruise, full day.

Day 9 : Drive to Milford Sound (just for view) and then to Wanaka, overnight at Wanaka.

Day 10 : Explore Wanaka/Arrowtown/Queenstown. Overnight at Queenstown.

Day 11 : Half day glenorchy LOTR tour, drive & overnight at Lake Tekapo.

Day 12 : Explore Lake Tekapo and drive out back to CHC.

Day 13 : Fly out, morning.

I'm missing out Arthur's Pass and wonder if its worthwhile to trade that with Nelson/Abel Tasman? Dilemma dilemma. Pls advise and also on the overall itenery. Thanks.

Edited: 31 August 2013, 20:30
Wanaka, New Zealand
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1. Re: 13 Days Self Drive South Island

Some things that stand out for me as problems are:

Day 1 : Arrive CHC @ 2pm. Drive up and overnight at Kaikoura.

It is dangerous to drive straight off a long haul flight. You should overnight in Christchurch or take public transport.

Day 2 : Whale watching at Kaikora. Drive up and overnight in Nelson.

Day 3 : Full day at Abel Tasman National Park.

Day 4 : Drive from Nelson - Lake Rotoroa - Cape Fowlwind - Punakaki - Hokitika Gorge. Overnight at Hokitika.

Day 5 : Drive to Fox Glacier, half day walk at Fox Trot, explore lake matterson, perhaps gillespies beach, then overnight at Franz Joseph.

You drive through Franz Josef to get to Fox Glacier, and then you are driving BACK to Franz, then the next day driving back along the same road past Fox again. You should really be stay in in Fox, not Franz. It looks a very small distance on the map - about 30km - but is a very windy, narrow, slow road. It always seems to take forever to get between the two towns - and we drive these sort of roads regularly.

Day 6 : Drive to Lake Paringa - Lake Moeraki - Blue Pools and explore & overnight at Queenstown.

Day 7 : Explore Queenstown, drive and overnight at Te Anau.

Day 8 Doubtful Sound cruise, full day.

Day 9 : Drive to Milford Sound (just for view) and then to Wanaka, overnight at Wanaka.

Te Anau, to Milford, to Wanaka is a huge day of driving.

Day 10 : Explore Wanaka/Arrowtown/Queenstown. Overnight at Queenstown.

Again, you are doubling back from Wanaka to QT. Why? Why not stay in QT on Day 9, then go on to Wanaka the following night.

Day 11 : Half day glenorchy LOTR tour, drive & overnight at Lake Tekapo.

Another huge day of driving. By the time you do your tour, you will be leaving mid afternoon for Tekapo. You are also missing out Mt Cook which is considerably more interesting than Tekapo.

Day 12 : Explore Lake Tekapo and drive out back to CHC.

Day 13 : Fly out, morning.

In short, you are being too ambitious in your 12 days. Consequently, you have some huge drives and short stays. I would drop Abel Tasman. You could drive via Arthurs Pass from Kaikoura, and then pick up your itinerary. You also have quite a bit of doubling back.

Have a search on here for 12 day itineraries for some suggested routes. You have the bones of a plan but it needs fine-tuning - which is why you've sensibly posted on here :) Happy planning

Kuala Lumpur...
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2. Re: 13 Days Self Drive South Island

Thanks Telly for your comments. Will take a look, discuss with the husband and fine tune my itenery accordingly. Thanks again!

New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
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3. Re: 13 Days Self Drive South Island

In addition, you drive through Wanaka to get to Queenstown day 6 then later drive past Queenstown to get to Wanaka to then turn around and return to Queenstown! You will find driving in NZ exhausting, best not add so much unnecessary mileage.

a suggestion;

1 arrive Chch, explore

2 day trip to Kaikoura, stay Chch

3 drive Arthur's Pass to Punakaiki

4 drive to Fox

5 explore glacier

6 drive Haast Pass to Wanaka

7 drive to Te Anau

8 Doubtful Sound

9 drive to Milford if conditions allow***, drive to Queenstown

10 explore

11 drive Lindis Pass to Aoraki/Mt Cook - far more scenic than Tekapo

12 drive to Chch

13 fly out

*** Oct is avalanche season on Milford Road - check conditions carefully before driving on this road which has a high number of road accidents. best to take the bus in Oct.

Safe travels :)

Kuala Lumpur...
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4. Re: 13 Days Self Drive South Island

Thanks for the reply! I've discussed with the husband, and he's actually quite keen on going to Abel Tasman. Is there a way I can squeeze that in and forgo the Arthur's Pass? Yes, you're right on the Fox Josef/Fox Glacier & QUeenstown/Wanaka bit, which I have replanned. Thanks again so much for that pointer!

How do one check the condition of the road to Milford Sound? Is there a website I should refer to on the day itself? thanks!

New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
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5. Re: 13 Days Self Drive South Island

To include Abel Tasman you ideally need to extend your time, or something else needs to go...

1 arrive Chch, explore

2 drive Lewis Pass to Nelson and continue to Motueka

3 day trip to Abel Tasman National Park

4 drive to Punakaiki

5 drive to Fox

6 explore glacier

7 drive Haast Pass to Wanaka

8 drive to Te Anau

9 explore Doubtful or Milford, stay Te Anau

10 drive to Queenstown, explore

11 drive Lindis Pass to Aoraki/Mt Cook - far more scenic than Tekapo

12 drive to Chch

13 fly out

or

7 drive Haast Pass to Wanaka

8 drive to Queenstown

9 explore

10 day trip to Milford or Doubtful Sound - 13 hour trip

11 drive Lindis Pass to Aoraki/Mt Cook - far more scenic than Tekapo

12 drive to Chch

13 fly out

…govt.nz/projects/milfordroad/RoadStatus.do

if you drive to Milford and the road closes behind you - this could be due to avalanche, rock slide, slip, flood, snow - then you are looking at likely costs of over $700 each to fly out, plus anouther $700 plus for the rental comanpy to retrieve the rental.

If you bus in and the road clsoes behind you, you become the tour companies problem to get out.

Do ensure you have full travel insurance!

6. Re: 13 Days Self Drive South Island

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