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Best locations for unspoilt beauty and how long to spend

Portsmouth, United...
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Best locations for unspoilt beauty and how long to spend


We are travelling to NZ for our very belated honeymoon next year and are spending around 4 weeks on each Island. We are doing a lot of touristy stuff in North Island and sometimes only passing through an area for a day, maybe 2 max. But the iconic beauty in South Island means we really want to take it a bit slower there are spend more time really seeking, rather than just looking.

I seem to still be trying to pack waaaaaaay too much in from the guidebooks so really need advice on where is best to go, what can be missed and how long to spend in each area. We are camping around and can 'get lost' a bit easier because we aren't bound by train locations or needing to be in a city.

We are mainly looking to kayak and walk (although we are probably more suited to day-walking) so really need to know - is 3-4 days in each area (Milford Sound, Abel Tasman, Kaiboura) enough time to explore and feel like we've really experienced it?

Many thanks in advance!

Anna and Jamie

Christchurch, New...
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1. Re: Best locations for unspoilt beauty and how long to spend

3-4 days will be great for areas like Marlborough Sounds, Abel Tasman, Kaikoura, Wanaka, Te Anau but probably a bit long for Milford Sound which is only the end of a road, with a wharf, one lodge & a cafe. There is nowhere to walk to. One night (ideally on a boat) and an early morning kayak tour, would probably be enough, but if you spend longer at Te Anau you'll have time to enjoy all the walks along the Milford Rd, such as Key Summit.

If you are "over" touristy things you might want to limit your time in Queenstown, and perhaps spend more time in the Catlins or Wanaka etc. OTH there is more than enough to do in QTN for a week ;-)

Biggar, United...
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2. Re: Best locations for unspoilt beauty and how long to spend

Hi ALPresto, many places in NZ of unspoilt beauty include places which are also popular. For example Milford Sound - spectacular scenery but the experience can still feel a bit "packaged" when you get on a busy cruiser to see it.

If you're looking for more off-the-beaten track places/unspoilt beauty, do a bit of research on Stewart Island and The Southern Scenic Route which includes The Catlins area. In the North Island consider the East Cape. We specifically spent quite a chunk of our last 4 week trip in NZ in less frequented places and enjoyed them.

I'd recommend spending 2 or 3 nights minimum in most places otherwise you will find that by the time you get from one to another you don't get a huge opportunity to explore further. It also can get tiring constantly living out of a suitcase.

You mention "camping around" and would need to clarify if you are hiking/camping/using bus, using a camper van, or perhaps using a car & camping as this could have some impact on the advice given on the forum - the season of your visit is also a consideration. It's a good idea to start planning ahead early as you are doing.

Greymouth, New...
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3. Re: Best locations for unspoilt beauty and how long to spend

I would recommend to spend a little longer in the South island that the north. You itinerary looks great, just take it slowly. Drive down the west coast and enjoy the scenic beuty. Franz and fox glaciers are the only place where there are many 'tourist activities' otherwise it is wall to wall unspoiled scenery. The road through Haast Pass wasnt even opened till the late 1960's and not sealed completely till the 1990's.

Ballarat, Australia
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4. Re: Best locations for unspoilt beauty and how long to spend

I'd recommend Golden Bay as a great place to stop for a while. http://www.goldenbaynz.co.nz/ I could happily spend a couple of weeks puddling about there!

I agree three nights is too long in Milford, but you could consider doing a longer cruise in Fiordland. This one is on my bucket list: https:/… Or do a multinight tramp - you said you're more into day hikes but you might want to consider a guided trip with real beds, showers, meals laid on etc, eg http://www.hollyfordtrack.com/itinerary

3 nights in Kaikoura is nice, we usually try to stop there for 3 nights when we are going that way.

I would consider a stay in Wanaka as a "must" on any relaxed SI itinerary, and Dunedin is an attractive city for a longer stay, if you want to include a city stop.

Edited: 26 April 2014, 00:36
Blenheim, New...
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5. Re: Best locations for unspoilt beauty and how long to spend

I think 4 nights would be to long for Kaikoura, so 2-3 would be ideal. When conditions are nice you can hire a Kayak and go around the Peninsula. Depending on fitness its a 2-3 hour paddle, always see Seals, often see Dolphins. Other then that you can go on a whale watch boat to see Whales, maybe climb Mt Fyfee which is a day trip but gives excellent views of the area.

Golden Bay is a nice area, for a taste of remote beauty consider driving around Whanganui Inlet (Westhaven inlet) and go as far as the Anatori River mouth. Car Rental agency probably do not like rental cars heading down that way but I seen a few people risk it. The roads are fine but gravel. Its part of the country where most New Zealanders would not even visit. Almost like going back in time. If you park at the Patura River Mouth and walk north along the beach (assuming the river is low enough to cross) these a massive sand dune which can be reached in about half a hour quite impressive, further along the coast is very Ruggard with many sea caves. These also a couple of nice Kayaking destinations but really need a private car to get a Kayak to them. Its one of my favourite parts of the country and almost no body visits.

These a lot of nice Kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds. Several locations hire kayaks and these plenty of Campgrounds. Plus these not the crowds of Kayakers like in Able Tasman so a bit more peaceful ... but probably more boats/yachts on the weekends.

I would also recommend half a day Kayaking around the Okarito Lagoons. On a calm clear day, the ancient forests with the backdrop of the snow covered Southern Alps is quite magical.

Never been to Milford Sounds so can not offer any advice regarding that area.

Portsmouth, United...
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6. Re: Best locations for unspoilt beauty and how long to spend

Hi Everyone,

Thank you so much for the amazing advice - I already have such a bettr picture of what to expect! Miford as a day thing was very important as I had us down for a 4 day stop! :)

Just to clarify, we are buying a car from the Backpacker auction (that's the plan, anyway!) so that we don't have to rely on buses etc. We are coming Jan 19th to March 17th (booked flights yesterday!) :)

We are doing 4 nights in the Abel Tasman area and athough we wanted to stay longer, we are heading down to the mountains to the West of Christchurch as we are meeting friends who also happen to be there but will be at the end of their trip. From there we head to Kaikoura for 3 nights (could make it two) and then we head south, although as we end up in Christchurch I think we are going to head down the Western side as suggested and stop in a few places before staying in Te Anau and perhaps exploring Milford for just a day or so.

I completely take on the points about packing/unpacking tents being tiring. We are booked into a B&B roughly every 7-10 days just to have a warm shower and meal - plus I feel like exploring cities is easier done when really being in one. I think most places we stay 3-5 days with the odd exception (Gisborne) where we do one night travelling through.

So, thank you so much for your help. We have now added Wanaka to our trip (somehow missed that!) and have shorted some time around Milford and will shorten Kaikoura by a day. Also looking at a guided tramp as we would like to do one to really see the mountains. Will also look at the kayaking location suggestions

Can't express my gratitude enough

A&J! :)

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7. Re: Best locations for unspoilt beauty and how long to spend

You've been given great advice and I think you have a fabulous main plan. If you haven't got it already, you might want to get the two NZ Frenzy guidebooks. They are unlike any other on the market. Scott Cook has traveled New Zealand by campervan at length for several (7?) trips. His entries have an "obscurometer" rating, so if you like off the beaten path wonders, you know at a glance where they are. He isn't trying to get you sold on a paid activity, he's telling you where unspoiled scenery and free adventures can be found.

You can read 90% of his first editions for free at motorcamps.com/content/activities-adventures . If you want the newer versions, which have more content added, you can either purchase the paper editions or the downloadable versions ($10USD each) at www.NZfrenzy.com .

I'm not related to the author in any way but have exchanged a couple of emails with him. But I think his books are great.

New Zealand
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8. Re: Best locations for unspoilt beauty and how long to spend

Great to include Wanaka - you will love it !

Happy travels :)

9. Re: Best locations for unspoilt beauty and how long to spend

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