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19 Day South Island Itinerary - how does it look?

Melbourne, Australia
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19 Day South Island Itinerary - how does it look?

This will be our 3rd trip to New Zealand as my husband and I absolutely love it! I have done some considerable planning for this trip this time as while the past two trips were wonderful, I've realised we missed so many things! A possible reason for this is that we tried to cover too much distance and therefore missed many of the sights.

So our trip this time is for the South Island only, we are coming in mid-August and this time will have 2 young children with us. We will be travelling in a motorhome as we did the previous two trips (both early September). Some of the attractions we have seen twice before but really want our children to see this time. Although there is a lot this time that we have never seen/been to before.

After all this planning I am concerned that we will be trying to cover too much distance - exactly what I wanted to avoid! Also am I trying to fit too much in?

So here is what I have got:

Day 1: Arrive Christchurch & stay the night at hotel

Day 2: Pick up motorhome & drive to Kaikoura

Day 3: Kaikoura to Nelson (via Queen Charlotte Drive) I've calculated that this is the longest travel day in the trip - is the QCD worth it and safe to drive in a motorhome?

Day 4: Nelson to Lake Rotoiti (Happy Valley Adventures in the morning)

Day 5: Lake Rotoiti to Greymouth (Stopping at Buller Gorge; hopefully visiting Punakaiki at high tide)

Day 6: Greymouth to Franz Josef (Walk to Glacier)

Day 7: Franz Josef to Lake Paringa (30 min Heli ride; Walk to Glacier; stopping at Lake Matheson)

Day 8: Lake Paringa to Wanaka

Day 9: Wanaka to Queenstown (Shotover Jet)

Day 10: Queenstown (Gondola; sightseeing)

Day 11: Queenstown to Te Anau (7pm Glow worm tour)

Day 12: Te Anau - Milford Sound Day trip - Te Anau

Day 13: Te Anau to Orepuki

Day 14: Orepuki to Catlins

Day 15: Catlins to Moeraki

Day 16: Moeraki to Aoraki/Mt Cook

Day 17: Aoraki/Mt Cook to Lake Tekapo

Day 18: Lake Tekapo to Christchurch

Day 19: Depart Christchurch

New Zealand
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for South Island
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1. Re: 19 Day South Island Itinerary - how does it look?

Welcome to the forum :)

Well - your trip looks exhausting - but third time over so I guess you know what you are getting yourselves into !?!

It really would be a fantastic trip in summer - not so convinced on a campervan in Aug with young kids. How young are they? babies will be easier than toddlers - lots of long long evenings with over-energetic toddlers confined to a campervan = yikes!

Your route is good - would be better if you actually had time to stop and explore the places you are travelling to. No time in Nelson? It's a heck of a way to come to then drive off again.

And yes, your campervan will be fine on the Queen Charlotte - large trucks motor it daily. Just ensure you don't hold up traffic - I always pull over to allow trucks past as they drive the route daily and so go faster than me.

I think you mad - do let us know how it all goes :)

Melbourne, Australia
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2. Re: 19 Day South Island Itinerary - how does it look?

Thank you so much for your reply. I do admit to being a little mad - but I think I will need to go back over the itinerary and take a few things out, leaving some more time to rest/explore. My problem is I have NZ Frenzy, my Hema Motorhome Atlas, Rough guide, and Lonely Planet and as I read through them all I just don't want to miss anything.

The kids are 6 & 7, motivated by nature and well traveled in Aus, but being in a motorhome together for almost 3 weeks is a whole different story. They are more excited about the trip than we are, we talk about all the driving and living in a small space together a lot, so fingers crossed all will be good!

What activities would you recommend in Nelson?

Thanks again for your reply.

California
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3. Re: 19 Day South Island Itinerary - how does it look?

It doesn't sound like you need any more research material, but thought you might be interested in this site devoted to traveling NZ with kids: http://www.kidzgo.co.nz

New Zealand
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for South Island
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4. Re: 19 Day South Island Itinerary - how does it look?

Tekapo is the first place I would jettison.

Some great family walks at Aoraki/Mt Cook. Walk to the Tasman Glacier terminal lake to see if there are any icebergs trapped in the frozen lake - just don't walk on the ice.

Wanaka - visit Puzzling World... the dinosaur playground .... a walk along the outlet track is lovely.

Nelson - Natureland... Tahunanui beach and it's playground... walk to the centre of NZ (a bit steep towards the end, your kids will feel proud once at the top).... WOW is fascinating for all ages.

Have a wonderful visit - and please return afterward and let us know how it all goes.

Melbourne, Australia
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5. Re: 19 Day South Island Itinerary - how does it look?

Thanks for your replies. I'm imagining all this planning will somehow fall by the wayside anyway and we will end up changing lots of things as we go along - so much is weather dependent as well!

I'll be sure to come back with a trip report. Counting down the days now!

Melbourne, Australia
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6. Re: 19 Day South Island Itinerary - how does it look?

WLnz does the Tasman Glacier walk you refer to begin at the Blue Lakes Shelter? Looks like it is around 1 hour return - perfect for the kids.

It is accessed from Tasman Valley Road - would you have any idea about the condition of this road?? My Atlas says 'rental vehicles prohibited' on this road but the Kea Campers t&c don't included it as a restricted road.

Edited: 03 July 2014, 00:16
Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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7. Re: 19 Day South Island Itinerary - how does it look?

The Tasman Valley Rd used to be known as the Ball Hut Rd and was one of the roads prohibited to Rental cars, however the dangerous part of the road has been closed to all vehicles and a carpark & picnic shelter built at Blue Lakes which I assume is accessible to all vehicles. I have certainly driven rental cars there. From the shelter there are 2 walks - the longer but easier walk is the 4 WD track used by the Tasman Explorer people to the edge of Tasman Lake. It would be about 20 min each way.

The shorter but steeper walk is the scramble up the lateral moraine of the glacier to look down onto the icebergs. About 10 -15 min each way.

New Zealand
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8. Re: 19 Day South Island Itinerary - how does it look?

The access road is unsealed but fine - I often see rentals at the carpark. Just take care on some sections which are so narrow they are one way and you can't see round the croners to watch for opposing traffic - but with low speed you will be fine :)

…govt.nz/Documents/parks-and-recreation/trac…

…govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/…

White Horse Hill is a lovely camp - and it won't be busy in Aug... unless other mad Aussies are here …govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/…

Melbourne, Australia
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9. Re: 19 Day South Island Itinerary - how does it look?

That's good news, I'll double check with rental company anyway just to cover all bases but looking forward to doing that short walk.

Agreed WLnz - we've stayed in that campground twice before- once with snow and once without. Hoping for a clear night and plenty of stars! You definitely get the feeling that you are 'in the middle of nowhere' so some more mad Aussies around would be quire comforting I think!

Thanks for your replies.

Melbourne, Australia
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10. Re: 19 Day South Island Itinerary - how does it look?

So, after many tantrums I have finally agreed to alter the itinerary (for the better, I admit)

We have decided to take the far south adventures OFF the itinerary (Invercargill, Catlins, Dunedin, Motueka). These were places that I REALLY wanted to go to, so I made my husband promise that we will come back in the near future.

So now we have:

Day 1: Christchurch

Day 2: Kaikoura

Day 3: Blenheim (or Nelson)

Day 4: Nelson

Day 5: Lake Rotoiti

Day 6: Westport (alternatives?)

Day 7: Greymouth

Day 8: Franz Josef glacier

Day 9: Lake Paringa

Day 10: Wanaka

Day 11: Queenstown

Day 12: Te Anau

Day 13: Te Anau

Day 14: Queenstown

Day 15: Queenstown

Day 16: Mount Cook

Day 17: Lake Tekapo

Day 18: Christchurch

Day 19: Christchurch

Is this looking a bit better?