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Sout Island Road Trip Itinerary

Sarasota, Florida
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Sout Island Road Trip Itinerary

Greetings everybody,

I would like some advice from any Kiwis or experienced South Island vacationers. My wife (25 yrs.) and I (30 yrs.) are about a month out from our motor home road trip that we have saved nearly 4 years for. We used the "NZ Frenzy" guide to help formulate the itinerary. We are outdoor enthusiasts and really want to see the natural beauty the South Island has to offer.

___________________________________________________________________________

We would like to ask the feasibility of the following itinerary:

Wednesday, July 23rd:

Christchurch to Lake Tekapo

Attractions: Mt. Sunday/Ashburton Lakes

Note: I would like to find a way to visit Mt. Sunday(huge LOTR fan), but am unable to make the trip with the Apollo motor home we hired (only sealed/bitumen roads). I can make it as far as the Hakatere Jct. on SH72, the rest of the road is gravel. I am not too keen on joining a LOTR tour, as our budget cannot afford it. Any other transport options available from Methven or Ashburton?

Thursday, July 24th:

Lake Tekapo to Mt. Cook Village

Attractions: White Bluffs of Lake Tekapo/Hooker Valley Track

Friday, July 25th:

Mt. Cook Village to Queenstown

Attractions: Tasman Glacier/Clay Cliffs of Omarama

Saturday, July 26th:

Queenstown

Attractions: Gray Line Milford Sound Day Tour

Sunday, July 27th:

Queenstown

Attractions: Skyline Street Luge & Glenorchy

Monday, July 28th:

Queenstown to Dunedin

Attractions: Nugget Point

Note: I know Nugget Point is on the way, but we really would like to visit it.

Tuesday, July 29th:

Dunedin

Attractions: Tunnel Beach/Sandymount

Wednesday, July 30th:

Dunedin to Christchurch

Attractions: Moeraki boulders

Thursday, July 31st:

Drop off motor home

___________________________________________________________________________

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all.

New Zealand
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for South Island
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1. Re: Sout Island Road Trip Itinerary

Hi RP :)

Whatever happened to your plan to ditch the campervan?

And I take it you didn't read any of the FAQ's on the top right of the NZ forum page - because if you had, you would surely not use Apollo!!

And far be it for me to say I told you so - but I did suggest back in Feb that you rent a car from Apex - which would more than likely allow you to drive the car park for the walk to Mt Sunday.

Plus you have neatly skirted the question of when do you arrive in NZ? assuming it is July 23rd after a long haul flight, then please do not drive on arrival. Jet lagged drivers are impaired drivers.

Not a lot of positives on offer here today - but at least the scenery will be stunning.

Sarasota, Florida
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2. Re: Sout Island Road Trip Itinerary

WLnz,

I appreciate your concern for my choice in motor home selection, but I had mentioned in a previous post that I was locked into a non-refundable rate way before you had suggested using Apex. Therefore I am making the best with what I have. Given I may have made a few decisions without consulting this forum prior to booking, that doesn't mean we won't enjoy our 5-year anniversary trip.

On your assumption that we are hopping off the plane & directly driving on the road without acclimating our internal clocks is a misjudgment on your part. We will have been in Fiji & Australia for 12 days before we even arrive in Christchurch.

If anyone else would like to contribute a productive addition to our tentative forum, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

California
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3. Re: Sout Island Road Trip Itinerary

Your last thread in this forum was from February. You were considering a basic (no toilet) campervan. Then the last two posts you said you conceded and looked into car rentals. So you never mentioned you were locked into a non-refundable Apollo motorhome until this thread.

So, dealing with what you have, I think you'll have to forego the Mt Sunday journey unless you opt for a tour. And I hate to say it, but the last couple of miles to Nugget Point is not sealed. You might want to contact Apollo and see if they'll allow their vehicle to drive to the point. Most of the side roads in the Catlins are unsealed. If you go to maps.aa.co.nz, they show the sealed roads in yellow if you zoom in.

Overall, your trip has a lot of driving, but it's doable.

I think the not being able to drive on unsealed roads is going to prove problematic for what you what to do. The more I look at your itinerary and remember our own travels, the more I see:

You might want to ask about driving to the carpark at Tasman Glacier. That road is gravel as well (but it's really wide and well traveled). They specifically state they don't allow their vehicles on Ball Hut Road and I can't find this on aa maps or Google maps, although Ball Hut is at the end of a 4WD section of the road to Tasman Glacier. So I'd get clarification on that as well.

Clay Cliffs at Omarama is also on unsealed road.

The road to Glenorchy is paved, but any of the roads beyond Glenorchy are unsealed.

Sarasota, Florida
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4. Re: Sout Island Road Trip Itinerary

Thank you deSchenke,

I appreciate the clarification and I should verify with Apollo again to determine whether or not some of those locales are possible to drive through. I am willing to make adjustments, but the damage is done as far as staying with Apollo. I will surely make more of an effort before booking such an important part of our trip. I will look into tours for Mt. Sunday as it is definitely a highlight for me. Take care.

California
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5. Re: Sout Island Road Trip Itinerary

The T&Cs are a bit strange. As they state you can only travel "sealed/bitumen" roads and then list about 3 roads you specifically can't drive on, which would have been forbidden anyway just for the fact they are gravel. Some companies state you can only drive "sealed or metaled" roads. I had to look up metaled road to find out it's a gravel road. (And I had to look up "bitumen" only to find out it's asphalt - funny the things you end up educating yourself on!) Apollo has it so oddly presented, I'd ask. There are so many very popular places that are on very well groomed gravel roads! We also used NZ Frenzy almost exclusively. It's a running joke between us that if Scott Cook recommends it, it's likely to be down a gravel road.

We've not traveled to Dunedin nor the east coast. So I don't know about the roads there.

An alternative to Tasman Glacier, and one we liked better anyway, is the Kea Point Track. It starts from the same starting place as Hooker Valley Track. Tasman Glacier is rather colorless and looks like a giant mud puddle. Kea Point ends at an overlook of Mueller Glacier, which had pockets of different colored water with the backdrop of Mount Cook. Then looking the other way, you could see down the valley and how the village is tucked into the hillside.

Sarasota, Florida
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6. Re: Sout Island Road Trip Itinerary

deSchenke,

You are truly correct on the statement about educating yourself while researching. I appreciate your advice about the Kea Point Track. I will definitely consider that while planning. You are are correct that the most obscure places of interest are traveled through gravel roads.

One last question. Based on your experience are there any obvious essentials that I should bring for the road trip from the States, which would be more economical here than in NZ? The motor home includes basics such as bedding, kitchen utensils, chairs, & table. We would obviously pick up food/beverages, but I not sure if there is anything else pertinent that I am not thinking about.

Thanks.

Dunedin, New Zealand
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7. Re: Sout Island Road Trip Itinerary

Part of the road to Nugget Point is unpaved, but seems to me campervans drive on it all the time. Yes, if you are driving from Queenstown to Dunedin, it is out of your way. Figure three hours minimum to get from Q'town to Balclutha, then another half hour to Nugget Point, then the 15 minute walk to the lighthouse. Then 90 minutes from Nugget Point to Dunedin.

Two approaches to Sandymount Track. This is your best option: Once in Dunedin, take Highcliff Road to Seal Point Road, drive to end of road, park (this is the parking lot for Sandfly Bay), walk down track to overlook, read informational placards, and then stride down sand dunes to beach, walk down the beach to penguin watching hide. Bottom of Sandymount Track is just by the penguin watching hide. If you walked from the bottom all the way to the top of Sandymount Track (parking lot with its stunning views of Allans Beach) it would probably take you about 45 minutes, more or less.

The other approach for Sandymount Track is to drive to the Sandymount Track/Lover's Leap and the Chasm parking lot (the same as mentioned above with the stunning views), however, the road is unpaved and not advisable for a campervan.

Here's a holiday park for campervans in Dunedin. http://www.dunedinholidaypark.co.nz/

Otherwise, here are the rules for freedom camping:

www.dunedin.govt.nz/isite/responsible-camping

Dunedin, New Zealand
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8. Re: Sout Island Road Trip Itinerary

Tunnel Beach is at southern end of Dunedin. If you are driving up to Dunedin from Nugget Point, you pass right by here if you follow the Southern Scenic Route (just keep following the symbol

http://www.southernscenicroute.co.nz/)

However, in winter, the Tunnel Beach Track is much nicer in the morning when it is not in the shade. So you can start your day in Dunedin by going to Tunnel Beach, then drive toward the city on Blackhead Road/becomes Middleton Road to Isadore Road (a couple of minutes away), turn right, drive a few blocks to Aberdeen Road, turn left, drive a few blocks to Ravenswood Road, turn right. Ravenswood Road becomes Bedford Road, then becomes Victoria Road (near St. Clair Beach), then becomes Tahuna Road, then becomes Tomahawk Road. Take Tomahawk Road to Center Road, where you turn left and drive up the hill to Highcliff Road, turn right until you reach Seal Point Road (Sandfly Bay parking lot). If you follow these directions, it will take you about 30 minutes to get from the parking area of Tunnel Beach to the parking area of Sandfly Bay. Note Center Road is not well marked, but you'll get to the top of a hill and see cement bunkers off to your right (ocean side). The road to your right is Center Road and the start of the Otago Peninsula.

When driving on Tomahawk Road to Center Road, you'll see a lagoon to your left, stop and have a look for White Herons, which are rare to New Zealand (these are a subspecies of Great Egrets, which you find in abundance in Florida). Tomahawk Lagoon is also a favorite spot for Black Swans.

Dunedin streets have the annoying habit of changing names. The street that passes through the Octagon, for example, is Prince on one side, George on the other.

Sarasota, Florida
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9. Re: Sout Island Road Trip Itinerary

PassarinhoAzul,

That was definitely a wealth of information. Thank you for the approximate directions. We are strongly considering renting a GPS unit ifI am not able to get my own personal device to download the updated NZ maps. We really appreciate you sharing the detailed instructions as I am a very step-by-step orientated person.

California
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10. Re: Sout Island Road Trip Itinerary

I really can't think of anything you need to bring from the states. But give your campervan a once-over to see if things like toilet paper, paper towels, and dish soap are supplied before your first grocery trip. One van rental we rented had everything, the next van rental had only toilet paper. You don't want to have to go back to the grocery more than you need to. If you are a coffee drinker, check what kind of coffee maker you have been supplied with. Most camper vans supply a French press, so buy your ground coffee accordingly - and yes, pre-ground coffees for French presses are common.