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3 Week Solo South Island Trip

Perth, Australia
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3 Week Solo South Island Trip

Hi everyone

I am planning a three week trip to the South Island from approx. 12th April - 2nd May for my first excursion into solo travel. After originally considering a 2 week tour, I have decided that hiring a car and incorporating a few shorter group trips will give me more flexibility. I would like to be quite active - hiking/ kayaking/ cycling or mountain biking/ canyoning. My plan is to find a few 3 or 4 day trips to give me the opportunity to meet some people - and as a woman on my own I am not so keen on walking solo. The problem is that I start to research the various options, I am getting a little overwhelmed by the amount of information out there, so was hoping that you could provide some information on favourite guides/ tour operators and my planned itinerary.

Initial thoughts:

12th Fly into Christchurch - Arrive 7:30 am. Hire a car and drive to Kaikoura

13th Kaikoura - swimming with dolphins or seals. Drive to Blenheim (can do this the following day if tour finishes too late).

14th Stay Blenheim with family

15th Stay Blenheim with family

16th Nelson

17th Abel Tasman NP

18th Abel Tasman NP

19th Abel Tasman NP

20th Drive to Punakaiki

21st Drive to Fox/ Franz Josef

22nd Glacier Hike (better to do Fox or FJ?)

23rd Drive to Wanaka (is this stretch going to be too long?)

24th Wanaka - possible tour?

25th Wanaka

26th Wanaka

27th Queenstown

28th Milford Sound Kayak - worth doing 2 day? Rosco's appears to be the company to go for.

29th Milford Sound Kayak

30th Routeburn hike

31st Routeburn hike

1st Routeburn hike

2nd Return to Queenstown. Fly to Christchurch and back to Perth.

Questions/ Comments:

- I was originally planning on Walking and Kayaking in Abel Tasman but I have just spotted the 2 day Canyoning/ Kayaking trip with Abel Tasman Canyoning that looks like pretty good fun, so leaning towards this. Thoughts?

- From what I have read, Ultimate Hikes is the only company offering guided walks of the Routeburn, but I emailed them and apparently group sizes are up to 40 people with the average age 40 - 60, which doesn't sound ideal! I am in my early 30s and would prefer to stick to smaller groups if possible. Their last trip also starts on 13th April so I would have to switch my trip around and start in Queenstown if I went with this option. Are there any other trails or companies I should be considering?

- Any recommendations for some offroad cycling in Wanaka?

- Just a comment - these tours are pretty expensive! I thought paying close on US$5000 for the 2

week tour was steep, but I don't think I've spotted a 3 day walk for under $1300.

Thanks for your help - much appreciated!



New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
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28,435 posts
85 reviews
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1. Re: 3 Week Solo South Island Trip

Hi Kerri, welcome to the forum :)

I'm curious to know - you say ypu live in Perth, are travelling to NZ but are looking at prices in US$... why? We use NZ$ here. Plus there is no tipping so the cost quoted is the final cost, no 20% gratuity expected on top.

And please don't arrive in NZ after an overnight flight with little/no sleep and jump behind the wheel of a car. Best to spend the first walking day in Chch getting lots of fresh air and sunshine to help banish jet lag.

Abel Tasman - no wrong choices here

Ultimate Hikes is your only option - and they are good. Have you never travelled with an old wrinkly crowd before? I did a camping safari of Kenya in my early 20's with a mainly older crowd - which age bracket had the most endurance and the most fun?... the last to bed and first to rise... the ones with the best stories? the oldies.

Wanaka offers excellent mountain biking and heli-biking - check the i-SITE for maps etc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vqe9gxnQrx4

happy planning :)

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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34,833 posts
353 reviews
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2. Re: 3 Week Solo South Island Trip

OTH, it is perfectly possible to do the Routeburn solo, although Easter is likely to be fully booked. You would book a shuttle service such as Tracknet, to the start & then you set off with the group from the bus. You soon find your own pace and may choose to walk with others. You all meet up again at the huts at night. You do however have to carry your own food & cooking gear. After Easter gas may be removed from the huts and the price will drop accordingly.

Alexandra, New...
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3. Re: 3 Week Solo South Island Trip

Hi Kerri, if you want a 2-3 cycling trip you could explore the Otago Central Rail Trail or there are also two new cycle trails between Alexandra and Roxburgh (Roxburgh Gorge Trail) and between Roxburgh & Lawrence (Clutha Gold Trail).

You can find information on all the trails at www.cyclecentralotago.com

Perth, Australia
2 posts
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4. Re: 3 Week Solo South Island Trip

Thanks for the feedback. The only reason I mentioned US$ was that one of the companies I was looking at using quoted their tours in US, which I also thought was strange. My concern with Ultimate Hikes was more around the size of the group, rather than the age. Don't want to feel like herded cattle, but after doing a little more reading it appears that you all walk at your own pace so likely to spread out a bit. I have also been thinking that it is better to fly straight through to Queenstown and do the circuit in reverse, so the Routeburn is at the beginning. Lots more planning to do ;-)

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5. Re: 3 Week Solo South Island Trip

Hi Kerri, I am also doing the Routeburn track (Glenorchy side to Divide) later this month. I paid NZD108 for two nights in the huts. Carrying a 10kg backpack. If you can carry your own things, it is so much cheaper to do it on your own and not with a guided group. However, if you go in May it may be really cold with snow on the tracks and I think in the winter the huts are not equipped with gas for cooking.

6. Re: 3 Week Solo South Island Trip

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