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South Island - Drive west coast or east coast

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Yorkshire, England
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South Island - Drive west coast or east coast

We have booked a holiday to New Zealand for 23 days in September. We plan to spend about 10 days in the North Island and the rest in the South, when we get to the south island we thought we would stay in Nelson for a couple of nights and then travel down either the west coast or the east coast and just wondering what the recommendations would be. We also want to do Arthurs Pass and Akaroa then on to Wanaka where we will meet up with our son who is working the ski season there. Any and all suggestions will be welcome for both north and south island. We are using a rental car and hoping to stay in self catering accommodation where possible.

Te Anau
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for South Island, Te Anau
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1. Re: South Island - Drive west coast or east coast

If it were me, considering you will be starting from Nelson, I would go through the Buller Gorge to Westport, down the coast to Greymouth, over the Lewis Pass to Christchurch, stay in Akaroa, back to the West Coast via Arthurs Pass to Franz or Fox, and finally to Wanaka.

Driving times. Nelson/Greymouth, 1 day. Greymouth/Akaroa, 1 day. Akaroa/Fox, 1 day. Fox/Wanaka, 1 day. This gives you time to stop en route for photo ops etc, and you can slot in extra days as required.

Return to ChCh through Dunedin. With 13 days in South island you have quite a bit of flexibility.

Yorkshire, England
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2. Re: South Island - Drive west coast or east coast

Many thanks for your advice. It sounds like a good route to take.

Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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3. Re: South Island - Drive west coast or east coast

Assuming you do have to return to CHC at some point the previous post is too round-about. A more logical route would be to go down the West Coast to Haast; through Haast Pass to Wanaka and back up the middle, via Mt Cook to CHC. From Chch you can do Akaroa as a day trip or you could divert somewhere near Dunsandel (my geography's gone awol today) on your way back from Mt Cook direct to Akaroa & finish up in CHC.

4. Re: South Island - Drive west coast or east coast

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Kurow
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5. Re: South Island - Drive west coast or east coast

Another option would be to travel to Dunedin then up to Oamaru and take the inland route via Highway 83 to Kurow , Omarama, Twizel, Lake Tekapo, Fairlie and Geraldine at which point can chose to take then Inland Route or Highway one back to Christchurch. By doing this you are able to enjoy beautiful lake and mountain scenery, including Mt Cook and also get a little off the beaten tourist track. This route is fast becoming a very popular option. Best wishes.

Cambridgeshire
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6. Re: South Island - Drive west coast or east coast

Scenery on the west coast is unbelievable - every turn (and there are a lot of them) brings you to something even more spectacular. Because of this, the driving is quite hard work, even if you're a passenger, so don't try to go too far in a day.

Picking up from Nelson, we went to Motueka (nice place, go to "The Gothic" for dinner), Westport (don't expect anything great here), Hokitika (as before), Franz Josef (take a helicopter flight on to Fox Glacier if you can), Haast (not much to do), Wanaka (beautiful - stay at the Oakridge Hotel if you can), on to Dunedin & up the east coast.

The east coast isn't dull or unattractive, but just can't compete with the west.

Hope this helps - wherever you go I'm sure you'll have a great time.

New Zealand
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7. Re: South Island - Drive west coast or east coast

You definatley want to travel down the west coast it is alot more scenic, however I would go from Nelson across the top and down past Kiakoura, stop for the night and do a whale watch.. then through Christchurch.. for a couple of days do a day trip from Chrischurch to Akaroa, and another one to Hanmer... then go through Arthurs Pass and down the west coast , the glaciers are beautiful agree with the helicopter thing there well worth it then down to go through the Haast.

Then head to your son in Wanaka.. leave plenty of driving time and take time to stop and do some day walks... there is a really cool 20min walk in Picton that shows you an old Pa sight.. refresh those driving eyes and legs.. and one in westcoast oppostie tha Paroa Pub turn into the direction of Shanty town, go past and on to a place called woods creek... a beautifull 30min-1hour walk.. take a torch there are some wee caves to explore if you want to... but even without going into the caves it is a beautiful scenic leg stretch..

Take the time to stop and have a look around there is heaps to see off the beaten track... In Arthurs Pass to the Punchbowl track.. or for something not as steep the Bridel veil....or just have a wander around the village.

There are plenty of hotels and Motels aoound the South Island and you will have no problem if you don't book in advance and go with the flow.. if you like the look of a place explore a bit...then you aren't trying to rush on thse winding roads to get to your next destination... you could drive around the South Island the route i siggest in 5-6 days non stop but you wouldn't enjoy it... take your time and breath in the scenery :)

8. Re: South Island - Drive west coast or east coast

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