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20 days in NZ - itinerary, transport, & gear question

Baltimore, Maryland
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20 days in NZ - itinerary, transport, & gear question

In 6 days I am flying to New Zealand for a 20 day/19 night vacation. I fly into Nelson and out of Queenstown. The one thing that makes planning an itinerary difficult is I am traveling with someone in the middle of their 40 day trip to New Zealand and they're not going to want to see stuff twice, so I'm only going to visit the South Island and even then just part.

ITINERARY

Our plan is to mainly do hiking/outdoor activities (no surprise there). We will be doing a couple multi-day (3-4) treks (tents, not huts) plus day hikes. We're starting out with the Abel Tasman for nights 2-4 (already booked) before possibly getting a rental car in Nelson (discovered bus transport is too infrequent, and we don't want to have to wait for bus rides - unless someone has a good alternative).

From there our plan is to head south and see the Fox or Franz Josef Glacier before heading to Wanaka - realizing that is quite a drive so we'll take a couple days. Any suggested side trips as we make our way down the west coast, or would it best to just make our way south?

If it's worth the time, we were thinking about making a side trip to Mt Cook and surrounding areas. Is it worth the time to head up there?

From Mt Cook or Wanaka we'll go to Queenstown and explore the area and then depending on whether we do the Routeburn or Kepler Tracks will determine the logistics of the way we get around. Any suggestions? After that region, I will then fly out.

We are very flexible on our timeline and would possibly be interested in a multi-day trek in the middle of the trip - somewhere in the Wanaka/Mt Cook timeframe

By night:

1: Arrival/planning/supplies

2-4: Abel Tasman

5-6: Glaciers and travel south

7-8: Wanaka

9-10: Mt Cook

11-13: Queenstown

14-16: Kepler or Routeburn

17-18: Around Te Anau

19: Queenstown before departure

TRANSPORTATION

As for the rental car, my impression is that while there are buses connecting the towns it's like a once a day thing. We will probably return the car in Queenstown when we first arrive since it seems bus transport is easier around those parts. Any tips on public transportation in case we don't get the rental car?

PACKING

I've traveled internationally a number of times, but this is the first time where I'm doing primarily outdoor activities. Given the length of time, diversity in weather I have to be prepared for, and the extra stuff for camping is making packing a little more difficult.

What I have found online is for either backpacking 3-4 nights (on its own) or general travel for a few weeks, but not a combination of both. Do you have any tips on things to bring or any packing lists you think are appropriate for this sort of trip?

We plan to rent a tent. But would it be worth carrying a stove or renting one of them as well? Any general tips on renting gear?

New Zealand
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for South Island
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1. Re: 20 days in NZ - itinerary, transport, & gear question

NZ is very casual so most clothing worn on the mountains can be worn on the street.

Are you content eating only cold food and drinks the entire time you camp away from campgrounds? Or will you spend all your nights at commercial campgrounds which have kitchens for your use.

Renting a tent etc is easy when you fly in/out of one airport. Not sure how to will plan this by flying into Nelson and out of Queenstown? Most rental companies are individually owned and yes, the Nelson company will expect to get its belongings back.

if bringing any camping gear, including boots, into the country ensure it is spotless - free of all dirt, dust, grass seeds etc. Best to scrub the treads of your footwear and clean out any hollow tent pegs etc. It will all be inspected on arrival and steam cleaned if needed.

Your trip is quite rushed - it will take a minimum of 6 hours to drive non-stop Abel Tasman to Franz Josef and the driving is not the easy freeway cruising you might be used to. Our roads tend to be narrow, steep and twisty with lots of one way bridges (about 20 between Franz and Wanaka) The drive will take considerably longer if stopping to eat, sightsee etc. Plus this is if driving from Motueka - further into AT will take even longer.

Plus allow 6 hours for the drive Franz to Wanaka with a couple of brief stops.

A car will allow the greatest flexibility - you might want to make a decision on Aoraki/Mt Cook once you get to Wanaka, based on weather, driving and mood.

Hope this helps :)

Baltimore, Maryland
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2. Re: 20 days in NZ - itinerary, transport, & gear question

That helped a lot - I do appreciate it! Is the only rushed part getting from Abel to the southern end of the island? I suppose I wanted to get someplace that is a little more tropical seeming, since I'm coming from cold, dark, wet, and snowy weather now.

Oh, we'll definitely be eating our food warm. It's just a matter of whether to bring a stove from home or rent it over there. Since we're going to be camping less than half of the time, I just don't know if I want to be lugging it around with me everywhere.

As for renting a tent, it's something we would do in every town before camping - in Queenstown would likely be the next place we would do that. Otherwise, we could just buy one. Are there sites where people would be selling used tents? (I'm thinking other travelers in a similar situation to us at the end of their trip trying to sell one they'd bought at the beginning of their trip)

New Zealand
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for South Island
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3. Re: 20 days in NZ - itinerary, transport, & gear question

Keep things simple -

rent a tent or buy a cheap tent here and donate to a charity shop when you are done with it. And rent a stove too - you really don't want to pack that for the plane.

Yes, you can buy tents on Trademe in a matter of days trademe.co.nz/sports/camping-outdoors/tents

but it can take weeks to sell - how will you organise that from overseas?

You could leave a sale notice on Queenstown backpacker noticeboards - you might be able to flick it on before leaving.

Happy travels :)

Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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4. Re: 20 days in NZ - itinerary, transport, & gear question

Your logic confuses me!:

<...I suppose I wanted to get someplace that is a little more tropical seeming, ... - you are heading SOUTH - ie to a colder climate!

The point WLnz was making is that it takes 2 very long days to drive from Nelson to Wanaka - most people would allow at least one free day to explore the glaciers in between, meaning day 5 is drive Nelson to FJG; 6, explore; and 7 drive to Wanaka. I would knock a day off Queenstown .

NC
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5. Re: 20 days in NZ - itinerary, transport, & gear question

A recent post also mentioned that a lot of people donate stuff to one of the many charity shops in NZ at the end of their trip. Do they get tents/sleeping bags/camping equipment very often? You could check it out when you arrive. You might get lucky. I was thinking about trying it myself. We're flying into Nelson and out Dunedin so renting equipment won't work. But the main place I'd really like to camp is at White Horse Hill DOC campground at Mt Cook and I'm afraid it might get too cold at night in mid April for a tent and cheap sleeping bags.

Ballarat, Australia
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6. Re: 20 days in NZ - itinerary, transport, & gear question

Even in the middle of summer, in the mountains at times it is too cold to camp with only a cheap sleeping bag. If you don't want to bring/buy a good (expensive) bag, I would buy a down booster. This is a thin down bag that goes inside a cheap synthetic bag to give a lot more warmth. It packs down very small to take home and is hardly any extra weight to carry. eg hiking.com.au/p/…OPBoost-add5-L This will give you as much warmth as a good down bag at about half the cost. Ditch the cheap synthetic bag before flying home and keep the down booster.

NC
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7. Re: 20 days in NZ - itinerary, transport, & gear question

Jean: Thanks for the tip. I'll keep that in mind for other trips. I think I've resigned myself to not camping at Mt Cook. Just too much trouble for one night and our packed schedule. I'd be totally miserable if I drove all the way out there and the weather stunk so we couldn't see/do much AND we had to spend a cold, wet night in a tent!

Ballarat, Australia
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8. Re: 20 days in NZ - itinerary, transport, & gear question

That sounds sensible. I enjoy camping, but I wouldn't lug around camping gear for one night either, and I wouldn't plan on camping in the mountains/lower South Island in April.

9. Re: 20 days in NZ - itinerary, transport, & gear question

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