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Advice on my 15 day itinerary in South Island

New York
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Advice on my 15 day itinerary in South Island

My husband and I will be traveling to the South Island in mid-late February and I would like opinions on our potential itinerary. We are interested mostly in outdoors activities like hiking and kayaking and just want to be in the most beautiful places with some relaxing. We live in California so aren't as interested in the coast as in mountains/lakes. I know some of these days are long drive days so we are open to cutting sections. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Day 1 Fly into CHC or Queenstown

Day 2 Mt. Cook

Day 3 Mt. Cook

Day 4 Glenorchy

Day 5 Glenorchy

Day 6 Glenorchy

Day 7 Te Anau (Would more time in Te Anau be better than Glenorchy?)

Day 8 Te Anau-Milford Sound kayak trip

Day 9 Haast (Is this too long a drive day?)

Day 10 Hokitika (plan to do Fox glacier this day and then drive on. I am worried that is too long a drive but wanted to maximize time in Mapua)

Day 11 Mapua (We would see Abel Tasman and maybe Marlborough Sounds here. Also maybe do some wine tasting)

Day 12 Mapua

Day 13 Mapua

Day 14 Kaikoura

Day 15 Christchurch

Day 16 Fly out

We are thinking of skipping Mapua/Abel Tasman entirely to spend more time in Te Anau and add in Arthur's Pass but we are very torn, so any thoughts on this particular would be great. Thank you!

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New Zealand
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1. Re: Advice on my 15 day itinerary in South Island

Hi, you have done some great research for your trip :)

points to consider;

- it will save on costs if you fly in/out of Chch

- our roads are not those of upstate NY - think more of backroads Vermont. You won't make the same daily mileage here as you would at home

- are you planning the full Fox glacier hike? Even fit hikers find themselves tired afterwards.

- Mapua is over 2 hours drive from Marlborough Sounds - Kaiteriteri is far more scenic

- the Queenstown region has many excellent boutique vineyards

- skip Kaikoura this trip - I think whale watching better off Montauk

- Lindis Pass is best travelled north, Haast Pass is best travelled south

one possibility for your trip;

1 arrive Chch

2 drive to Blenheim, wine tour

3 drive to Kaiteriteri - nicer than Mapua

4 explore Abel Tasman

5 drive to Punakaiki

6 drive to Fox

7 glacier hike

8 drive Haast Pass to Wanaka - visitors avarage 5.5 hours for this drive, with brief sightseeing stops

9 drive to Te Anau

10 explore

11 drive to Queenstown and continue to Glenorchy

12 explore

13 drive Gibbston Valley (lots of vineyards!) to Lindis Pass to Aorkai/Mt Cook - stunning drive

14 explore

15 drive to Chch

16 depart

Hope this helps :)

Bay Area
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2. Re: Advice on my 15 day itinerary in South Island

My advice is to NOT cut out Abel Tasman. We took a combination kayak/day hiking trip that was possibly our favorite thing in our whole month in New Zealand.

The whole country is beautiful--you will love it. Also--we stayed in Queenstown and visited Glenorchy from there. It was fun to be in a town for a while. The lake there is beautiful. And the whole place has a fun vibe.

New York
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3. Re: Advice on my 15 day itinerary in South Island

Thanks so much for this! Wlnz, your itinerary has me skipping Mt Cook-which I'm open to since it seems like some other locations have similar views/hiking. Is that your thinking as well? Thanks!

California
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4. Re: Advice on my 15 day itinerary in South Island

WLnz's itinerary has you overnighting at Mt Cook on Day 13 and Day 14.

New Zealand
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5. Re: Advice on my 15 day itinerary in South Island

13 drive Gibbston Valley (lots of vineyards!) to Lindis Pass to Aorkai/Mt Cook - stunning drive

14 explore

Nova Scotia
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6. Re: Advice on my 15 day itinerary in South Island

We did a wine tour of this area out of Cromwell yesterday - fantastic wines! Today in wonderful sunshine we drove the lindis Pass. We took dozens of photos of Mount Cook which was clear at the top. We are now at Mount Cook Alpine Lodge which has wonderful facilities and a great view.

We bought a great Rose yesterday at GeorgeTown Vinyard (the most unpretentious winery I have ever seen) and today just before Twizel we stopped at the salmon farm and got fresh salmon. What a feast we are cooking here at the lodge.

Do not miss Mount Cook!

New Zealand
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7. Re: Advice on my 15 day itinerary in South Island

Maryann, you are certainly living the high life!

And yes, I love the drive through the Lindis and the end of the road at Aoraki/Mt Cook is pretty special too :)

New York
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8. Re: Advice on my 15 day itinerary in South Island

Thanks this is helpful! Caligirl-I also live in SF (moved there from NY) and was actually wondering if Abel Tasman and Marlborough might be similar to the Bay Area so maybe I could skip it. What did you love about it?

One thing that worries me about Wlnz's itinerary is that there are a few 1-night stays. I was hoping to avoid those, but maybe it's just not possible.

Here is another attempt-I'd love any thoughts! I am still so torn about seeing the North of the country or spending more time in the mountains down South. If we skipped it, we would probably spend more time down near Cromwell or possible drive Arthur's Pass.

Day 1 Fly into CHC

Day 2 Mt. Cook

Day 3 Mt. Cook

Day 4 Glenorchy or Wanaka

Day 5 Glenorchy or Wanaka

Day 6 Glenorchy or Wanaka

Day 7 Te Anau

Day 8 Te Anau-Milford Sound kayak trip

Day 9 Haast (Is this too long a drive day?)

Day 10 Fox Glacier

Day 11 Fox Glacier

Day 12 Westport (It seems I need to stop somewhere to get to the northern area. Is there anywhere pretty to stop between here and Kaiteriteri?)

Day 13 Kaiteriteri

Day 14 Kaiteriteri

Day 15 Kaikoura

Day 16 drive to CHC airport for 4pm flight

New Zealand
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9. Re: Advice on my 15 day itinerary in South Island

It is your trip and you can do as you like. But since you are asking for advice....

... did you not read post #1?

It points out the issues with your itinerary and then offers solutions.

Bay Area
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10. Re: Advice on my 15 day itinerary in South Island

nyc--We loved the hike we did in Abel Tasman. It was a half day and we walked just above the shore. The water is just beautiful, sort of an aquamarine color--nothing like in the Bay Area. And you're looking through huge tree ferns, etc. Before that we kayaked to a seal island. The whole kayaking "culture" was amazing. Water taxis running around full of kayaks, etc. Very "New Zealand". Hope you go and enjoy!