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Advice on 2 weeks on South Island, parents with older teens

Vienna, Virginia
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Advice on 2 weeks on South Island, parents with older teens

Greetings,

I am trying to put together the 2+ week portion of a 22 day trip to New Zealand in December-January for the 4 of us and welcome some guidance. We land in Queenstown and depart from Auckland. I and my husband would be happy hiking, with some bicycling and kayaking (and glow worm viewing) thrown in. My husband is also interested in seeing old gold mining towns/sites (including Hokitika). The teenagers share those interests but also would like to try para sailing, zip lines, "off road driving" (am not sure what that refers to), and jet boating. It appears that canyoning is on their list, and "Middle Earth" was also listed... We will rent a car. We have no strong interest in Christchurch. I've been staring at the maps and wonder whether this is a reasonable start:

Day 1-3: Queenstown ( include 4 WD to Skipper's Canyon )

Day3 4-6: Te Anau/Milford Sound

Days 7-8 Wanaka (include paragliding, jet ski)

Days 9-10 Mount Cook

Days 11-12 Lake Tekapo

Days 13-14 Hokitika

Hokitika to Picton is a 4 hour drive. I very much want to walk on part of the Queen Charlotte track. (At first glance, the description of this track reminded me of the hikes I've taken on the coastline of my native state of Maine.)

In particular, I am wondering whether we are budgeting "too much" time in the southern part of the island. Reactions/suggestions welcome.

Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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1. Re: Advice on 2 weeks on South Island, parents with older teens

Welcome to the NZ Forum. I don't know where you are getting your travel times from, but AAmaps gives Hokitika to Picton at being 5:39 hr, so basically all day with lunch etc.

Two suggestions - most of us think Lake Tekapo is worth 20 min for a photo stop or up to an hour if you throw in lunch and/or a coffee stop at the Mt John observatory; OK we'll allow you an overnight if you really want to do the Observatory Tour (which I think is overpriced). So there goes day 11 - Lake Tekapo;

Day 12 Lake Tekapo to Hokitika (6hr) - do you really need a full day here?

Why not day 13 drive to Picton & day 14 walk part of the QCT.

New Zealand
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2. Re: Advice on 2 weeks on South Island, parents with older teens

and here's another slight twist (assuming you skip a night at Tekapo) -

1- 3 Queenstown

4 drive to Te Anau

5 explore

6 drive to Wanaka

7 explore

8 drive to Aoraki/Mt Cook

9 explore

10 drive to Arthur's Pass

11 drive to Hokitika

12 explore

13 drive to Picton***...

more gold mining relics at ;

Arrowtown - just outside Queenstown, you can pan for gold

Macetown - ghost town accessed by 4WD tour (off roading) - loads of deep river crossings - kids will be impressed!!

Bendigo - great drive to get there - open pits can be hidden so mind the kids!

Bannockburn - surrounded by fabulous boutique vineyards ;)

www.nzsouth.co.nz/goldfields/cromwell.html

**** best kayaking in NZ is found at Abel Tasman National Park - can you squeeze in a couple of days to get to Nelson?

- drive to Hokitika

- drive to Nelson

- explore, kayak Abel tasman http://www.abeltasman.co.nz/

- drive to Picton...

Blenheim, New...
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3. Re: Advice on 2 weeks on South Island, parents with older teens

Last time I went between Hoki and Blenheim I did it in just over 4 hours, so 4 1/2 hours to Picton would be doable. But that is without stops, sightseeing or getting lost. I also took the less scenic inland route via Reefton rather then the slow scenic route via Westport. If you go via Westport which is recommended then 5 1/2 hours seems realistic. These also quite a few places which deserve a stop of 15 minutes or so could easily add another 90 minutes or so to the drive. So with sightseeing, I say 6 1/2 hours should be allowed for.

Vienna, Virginia
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4. Re: Advice on 2 weeks on South Island, parents with older teens

All, thank you very much for your helpful replies. We may try to visit the Fox or Franz Josef glaciers as well, but that would involve some route rearranging. We'd likely cut some days on the North Island (which I had reserved for the last week). I will take a closer look over the weekend.

Ballarat, Australia
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5. Re: Advice on 2 weeks on South Island, parents with older teens

The South Island offers everything on your list, other than some of the "Middle Earth" locations. I'm not sure how long you had planned to spend in the North Island, but cutting it back to the minimum is probably wise given your interests. You could visit Wellington (Weta Workshop, Te Papa), Tongariro National Park (Mordor, hiking), Rotorua (thermal attractions, ziplining, lots to see and do) and Hobbiton reasonably comfortably in one week on your way to Auckland.

The area around Queenstown, Arrowtown, Glenorchy, Wanaka is full of things that would interest you - you could probably spend months there without running out of things to do, so allow as much time as possible. Over the last summer we spent 12 nights in that area, and we didn't do half of what we were interested in, and we have been many times before!

Canyoning in Wanaka: http://www.deepcanyon.co.nz/

If you get to the Nelson district (which I'd recommend) they have canyoning there too. abeltasmancanyons.co.nz/our-canyoning-advent…

If time is tight and budget allows, I would do a day coach/cruise/fly tour to Milford Sound from Queenstown rather than spending those nights in Te Anau to allow more time for adventure activities, the Queenstown/Wanaka area and squeezing in Nelson.

Budget may be something to map out carefully before you go. We travelled to the South Island with our young adult daughters over the last summer and found the cost of activities sobering, given that we were now looking at four adult fares. Unless you have a "money no object" wallet, I would suggest researching all the activities you wanted to do, and find out the total cost so you're prepared. Otherwise you may get there and find all those cool things you wanted to do are unaffordable when added up.

Ways to control costs to allow more for activities include: not feeling everybody has to do everything - split up sometimes so everybody gets to do what they most wanted to do, self-catering - we very rarely stay anywhere we can't self-cater (it's really not that hard if everybody pitches in and you keep menus simple, and picnics are great), and booking private/family rooms in hostels, or for longer stays holiday homes by the week.

Vienna, Virginia
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6. Re: Advice on 2 weeks on South Island, parents with older teens

Jean W., Thank you for sharing your experiences and for the links. We did rule out some excursions after considering the costs, and will be splitting up. We are considering more than 1 night at Te Anau because of the hiking opportunities in the area but we will need to evaluate the alternatives more carefully.

Nelson-Tasman...
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7. Re: Advice on 2 weeks on South Island, parents with older teens

I also have older teens and it seems similar interests. I can highly recommend kayaking on Milford Sound with roscos - one of our highlights. Kayaking in Abel tasman National Park, and also cable bay kayaks in Nelson for a different perspective with caves, cliffs and clear water. I do highly recommend walking on Queen Charlotte Track, you can also kayak. Indeed staying at lochmara lodge and using their kayaks in the early morning is just stunning. Depends on your final iternary but eco pelorus adventures does inflatable kayaking down the pelorus river. We really enjoyed this as a family and it passes where the famous "barrel, scene was filmed for the hobbit movie. If visiting Mt Cook the glacier explorer is really a must to appreciate the glacier lake. And the nimble fox with fox glacier guides is awesome.

California
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8. Re: Advice on 2 weeks on South Island, parents with older teens

Nimble Fox is no longer an option. The glacier has receded and the face is too unstable to walk on. You must take a helicopter to get on either Fox or FJG. :(

Ballarat, Australia
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9. Re: Advice on 2 weeks on South Island, parents with older teens

Bother. Our next trip was to include the glaciers. :( Thanks for the update.

Vienna, Virginia
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10. Re: Advice on 2 weeks on South Island, parents with older teens

Back with further questions. Here's how the trip is laying out. We decided against going to the western side of the South Island and want to spend at least a day if not more in Abel Tasman NP. I tried to take into account the travel time, but I may be off.

The 3-week trip now includes about a week on North Island. We'd spend the last 2 nights in Auckland, mainly so that our sons can walk around a city, but I'm not sure whether to find a hotel more in the center of town or near the airport. (Our flight departs on a weekday around 10 am.) Thanks again for your comments.

Days 1- 9 Queenstown to Fiordland NP to Queenstown.

Days 10-11 Drive to Mount Cook and explore.

Days 12-15 Head towards Nelson and visit Abel Tasman NP. It would be a 9-hour drive from Mt. Cook to Nelson. Although we prefer to spend at least 2 nights in the same place, we will probably break up the drive from Mt. Cook to Nelson by staying in Christchurch for one night.

Day 16. Ferry to North Island. Possibly explore Wellington, or just head to Rotorua.

Day 16-17: Rotorua (one evening: hāngi).

Days 18-19 Tongariro NP. Hike Alpine Crossing one of the days.

Day 20. Hobbiton am, Waitomo Caves pm. Reach Auckland late afternoon/early evening. (4.5 hrs of driving.)

Day 21 Explore Auckland

Day 22--flight departs Auckland late a.m.