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14 day North, mostly South Itinerary

Los Angeles...
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14 day North, mostly South Itinerary

Hey guys- I know you are tired of these type questions, but it will help me finalize the trip as I feel like I've got too many spots to hit thus far. I will be travelling solo by rental car.

Also of importance, I am a wheelchair traveler as I was paralyzed several years ago. While I can't do a lot of hikes, I am pretty mobile and love the outdoors- there are quite a few accessible walks in south island, I've heard. If there are any really bad towns/points with serious hills/elevation, then I'd rather know them now then on my trip. This is one reason I'm passing on Franz Josef- I've seen glaciars long time ago in Alaska, but I can't really hike around them on wheels.

Dec 1- Los Angeles to Auckland

Dec 3- Auckland

Dec 4- Waitomo Caves (i've read they are accessible)

Dec 5- Wellington

Dec 6- Ferry to Picton/Marlborough

Dec 7- Marlborough wine tasting

Dec 8- Kaikoura

Dec 9- Mount Cook or Wanaka

Dec 10- Mount Cook or Wanaka

Dec 11- Queenstown- jetboat

Dec 12- Milford Sound

Dec 13- Queenstown- bungy

Dec 14- fly back to Auckland/final wind down

Dec 15- return home to LA :(

I've never been more excited for a trip, ever!

Edited: 23 October 2013, 20:46
New Zealand
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for South Island
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1. Re: 14 day North, mostly South Itinerary

Welcome to the forum Keith :)

You have a lot of mileage and our roads are not the easy cruising freeways you will be used to. Think back roads Vermont for narrowness, twistiness and steep terrain. You will find driving here mentally and physically exhausting.

And Kaikoura to Wanaka is a seriusly overlong drive - over 7 hours plus stops for food, fuel, loo and sigtseeing. Even the drive Kaikoura to Aoraki/Mt Cook is overlong - over 6 hours plus stops.

My suggestion;

6 ferry to Picton, drive to Marlborough, wine tour

7 drive to Kaikoura, whale watch

8 drive to Tekapo

9 explore Aoraki/Mt Cook, continue to Wanaka

10 explore

11 drive to Queenstown, explore

12 more

13 Milford Sound day tour

14 fly to Auckland

15 depart

you currently have over two full days in Auckland - I would drop one to free up more time elsewhere.

You could;

7 drive to Kaikoura, whale watch

8 drive to Christchurch

9 drive to Aoraki/Mt Cook

10 drive to Wanaka

11 explore

12 drive to Queenstown

13 explore

14 Milford Sound day tour

15 fly to Auckland, depart

happy travels :)

Wellington, NZ
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2. Re: 14 day North, mostly South Itinerary

Waitomo to Wellington is a 6 hour drive - after your tour, I suggest you start making your way south.

If you do have time to see Wellington, just be aware that the walk from the top of the cable car to the city through the Botanic Gardens has some unavoidable steep paths, and I wouldn't recommend it for a wheelchair user unless you have very good brakes.

Los Angeles...
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3. Re: 14 day North, mostly South Itinerary

Tekapo is a great idea, WLnz. Thank you much- that is the missing link. Unfortunately I arrive on the 3rd in the late afternoon and leave on the 15th at 7am- so really my time in Auckland is just on the 14th.

weta- that's a similar issue. i have to sleep a night (yes, I've read these forums!) before commencing the journey to Waitomo. I was debating trying to do that drive as well as the drive to Wellington in one day- although that seems like a lot.

Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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4. Re: 14 day North, mostly South Itinerary

I think what Weta means is that on the 4th, you drive from AK to Waitomo in approx 3; do a cave tour & have lunch (iirc it is the Ruakuri cave that is accessible); then in the afternoon try to get a couple of hours driving in to reduce the time to WLG next day., eg Ohakune.

Edited: 24 October 2013, 03:35
Los Angeles...
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5. Re: 14 day North, mostly South Itinerary

Ahh..that makes a lot of sense and will give me some additional time to chill in Wellington.

Do you guys recommend that I do the Queenstown/Milford Sound drive/tour in one day? I believe I will have to drive myself as the buses won't be accessible likely.

California
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6. Re: 14 day North, mostly South Itinerary

Take the coach to Milford from Queenstown. You can sleep on the way back. Why wouldn't you think the buses will be accessible?

New Zealand
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7. Re: 14 day North, mostly South Itinerary

Wheelchair access -

Real Journeys takes wheelchairs if booked in advance. The driver will help but can't lift the passenger - If the passenger can't stand and walk unaided they are expected to have a person with them able to help them on and off the bus .

Same with GreatSights which says - We welcome passengers travelling with wheelchairs although we have some restrictions. Passengers must be able to stand unaided when boarding and disembarking the coach. Passengers who require somebody to lift them on and off the coach must arrange for this assistance at pick up and drop off points. For health and safety reasons, drivers are not permitted to participate in carrying of passengers. We are prevented from carrying electric wheelchairs containing battery acid. If you have any further questions, please email us at info@greatsights.co.nz

ditto for Intercity.

The BBQ bus is keen to know more of your situation as they would love to be able to help - but it depends on how much help you require getting on and off their mini-bus.

None of the buses take electirc wheel chairs

all of the boats are wheelchair friendly.

If having to drive to Milford Yourself - it is a 2 day trip - the one day tour from Queenstown takes 13 hours.

So either stay Te Anau two nights or stay Milford one night.

Hope this helps :)

Hampshire, United...
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8. Re: 14 day North, mostly South Itinerary

I emailed a few of Milford sound tour operators since my wife is a part time wheelchair user.

I got this response from Trip & Tramps which sounds encouraging since a Transit is probably easy to get into than a large tour coach. I haven't yet decided whether to take the tour or self drive.

>>Thank you for your email. Our mini vans are Ford Transits and have 2 steps to negotiate to get into, but then the seats are right there. The wheel chair would need to be collapsible to fit in the back of our vans. We are happy to make you the first pick up slightly earlier as well so you can sort it all out at a more leisurely pace. Also this way she can also get a window seat and if she does not feel comfortable getting out at the stops she can just enjoy the view from her seat. There are a couple of walks suitable for wheel chairs that we can incorporate into the day. Also with the small group our guide is available to assist.

The boat at Milford Sound is wheel chair accessible, but they do have a raised lip on all the doors as required for sea conditions (not that it is rough in the fiord). Boat staff are able to help over this and there is space both inside and outside for viewing, however there would be access to one level only.

I hope this information helps with your travel planning. If you have any further questions or wish to confirm a booking please do not hesitate to contact us again.

Mitre peak commented:

>> The Mitre Peak Two which does the 8.55am, 11.10am. 1.35pm and 4.30pm cruises is suited for a wheelchair.

Your wife would have full access to the bottom deck, which has an outside bow area and an area at the back for outside viewing, as well as an indoor area.

The doors all have lips on them, which she may need to be assisted over.

Real Journeys said:

>> Thank you for your email. The cruises we offer that have wheelchair access include the Milford Scenic Cruise, The TSS Earnslaw Cruise (and Farm Tours/BBQ). Access to coaches would require being able to walk up very narrow stairs into the coach with caregiver assistance.

All of the companies responded quickly to my questions so contact them directly for more info.

California
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9. Re: 14 day North, mostly South Itinerary

Oops, my bad. Just reread the initial post.

WLnz and mymsman - you two are awesome!

Los Angeles...
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10. Re: 14 day North, mostly South Itinerary

yes- a typical tall coach can't work. however, the BBQ bus probably can work, despite the fact I can't stand. I can transfer to the floor of the bus- just might need a bit of help from a crew person or tourist getting into a seat. I will reach out to them- thanks again for all the help!