So we have our flight tickets to Christchurch done for this December-January (Dec 17-Jan 8) and now we have 20 days to cover South Island. Just as a quick recap – we are a couple in our 30s who will be in NZ for the first time and love scenery, short scenic walks and long drives. However, our itinerary now requires some change as (i) we have 3 more days and (ii) our travel dates have changed so we are trying to realign the itinerary to be in Queenstown for NYE.
Therefore I was thinking of going counter-clockwise now. Also, I am not 100% sure if I am utilizing additional 3 days in best possible manner so will appreciate your suggestions.
Day 1: Arrive in Christchurch this afternoon from Singapore and fly to Nelson.
Day 2: Pick a rental car and do a day trip to Picton (driving Queen Charlotte Drive one way).
Day 3: Nelson to Wharariki beach, Cape Farewell etc. Overnight at Kaiteriteri
Day 4: Day trip (Kayak & Walk) to Abel Tasman Park
Day 5: Kaiteriteri to Punakaiki, stop at Lake Rotoiti & Cape Foulwind Seal Colony
Day 6: Punakaiki to Hokitika, visit Hokitika Gorge
Day 7: Hokitika to Fox Glacier in the morning, Fox Heli Hike
Day 8: Visit Lake Matheson, Fox Terminal Walk / Reserve Day for Fox Heli Hike
Day 9: Fox Glacier to Wanaka, visit Blue Pools & Waterfalls
Day 10: Full day in Wanaka.
Day 11: Most of the day in Wanaka, drive in later afternoon to Te Anau
Day 12: Day trip to Milford Sound, Rosco’s Sunriser Kayak tour
Day 13: Doubtful Sound overnight cruise
Day 14: Arrive in Te Anau by mid-day, drive to Queenstown (This is NYE)
Day 15: Full day in Queenstown
Day 16: Drive to Glenorchy, Dart river safari
Day 17: First half in Queenstown, Post lunch drive to Mount Cook (Or should we start early?)
Day 18: In Mt. Cook, Tasman Glacier Boat tour, Hooker Valley Walk
Day 19: Mt. Cook to Lake Tekapo, overnight at Lake Tekapo
Day 20: Early morning drive from Lake Tekapo to Christchurch Airport, Flight to SNG at 2PM.
So, now I am spending 1 extra day at Nelson, 1 more day in West Coast and the 3rd extra day is being distributed between Queenstown & Wanaka. Does this make sense or should we drive from Christchurch to Nelson on Day 1, 2 (say with an o/n at Kaikoura) instead of flying and doing a day loop, or may be include some new area to explore.
Other alternative is to do this circuit clockwise following largely our previous 17 day itinerary and then extending it by additional 3 days to cover Picton, Marlborough, Kaikoura. In that case we will be in Nelson for NYE. I didn’t find any info on how is the vibe there for NYE. Could you let me know how does the New Year celebrations at Nelson compare with those in Queenstown?
Looking forward to your inputs.