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Trip to South Island in April...need suggestions

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Melbourne, Australia
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Trip to South Island in April...need suggestions

Hi Everyone,

My husband and I (age 33) are booked to land in Christchurch on the 12th of April (5am) and return out of Queenstown (4pm) on the 18th of April. We are yet to book hotels and rental car so need advice on that. Please see my questions and tentative itinerary below:

1. We are planning to stay in Christchurch on the 12th, checkout 13th morning. Please suggest where we should stay and what we should see and do in and around CHC.

2. 13th April - plan to leave early for Mt. Cook by car (please suggest rental car company for one-way rentals to Queenstown) on the way see Lake Tekapo and arrive in Mt. Cook. Maybe do a one of those walking tours if we have time and daylight remaining.

Qs- Where to stay near Mt. Cook?

3. 14th April - do a glacier explorer tour or flight / heli and leave for Queenstown after lunch. Reach Queenstown by 4-5pm and hopefully return car the same day.

4. 14th April - 18th April -- Plan is to see Milford sound (day trip with a tour company / self drive if thats better please suggest) Shotover jet, gondola, ziptrek and maybe if we are brave enough to Skydive.

Should we see Wanaka and Te Anau glow worm caves?

Where should we stay in Queenstown?

Also, since we are 2 of us, does it make sense to rent a car (2-3 days) or just take a day tour which is probably pricier option.

Thank you in advance. Any advice or suggestions to any of my questions will be appreciated.

Melbourne, Australia
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1. Re: Trip to South Island in April...need suggestions

Forgot to add, would we need snow chains in April considering we may drive to Mt. Cook?

Western Victoria
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2. Re: Trip to South Island in April...need suggestions

IMHO, you are leaving it very late to start making bookings for what is NZ's School Holiday period,

I hope you have done some investigation of what is available, you may find your options very limited.

Check sites like wotif, hotels.com etc to see what is available and what prices are being charged.

Your query about renting a car becomes a personal choice, pros and cons to both options,might also depend on availability of tours.

Also, Wings Over Wanaka is on over Easter, making accommodation even scarcer in Wanaka, Cromwell & Queenstown.

Not meaning to put a dampner on things, just that its only 3 weeks away

New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
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28,297 posts
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3. Re: Trip to South Island in April...need suggestions

You could go

14 Aoraki/Mt Cook

15 Wanaka - best skydive in the country

16 Queenstown

and no, you don't have time for the Te Anau glow worms this visit

Apex or Jucy for car rental.

best get your accommodation booked asap - check wotif.

Happy travels :)

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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31,277 posts
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4. Re: Trip to South Island in April...need suggestions

If you can't get accommodation in QTN later in the trip consider:

14th Mt Cook to Queenstown (2 N)

15th Explore

16th AM, explore QTN; PM Drive to Te Anau (2N)

17th Drive to Milford Sound

18th Drive to Queenstown Airport; Return Car; Fly home.

Melbourne, Australia
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5. Re: Trip to South Island in April...need suggestions

Hi everyone,

Thank you very much for your contributions and help for our trip which is just 2 weeks away and we are really excited. We managed to book all our hotels in New Zealand.

1 night in Christchurch at the IBIS

1 night at Mount cook at the Hermitage hotel

and 4 nights at Queenstown at Novotel.

Only thing that remains is the car (pickup christchurch and drop off queenstown in 2 days) and the activities and so need some help with that.

Please advise if it's better to book the day trip to Milford Sound/Ziptrek/Gondola ride in Queenstown and maybe Skydiving if I can muster up the courage, before we get there online or once we get to New Zealand. I've heard that one can get coupons/better deals when you reach. Is that true? If not, which website is good to get a good deal on the activities.

Thank you once again for all your help and advice.

Perth, Australia
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6. Re: Trip to South Island in April...need suggestions

Dipti S - re your car rental, I found the best price was 'Yourway' also know as 'Apex'. We hired a Ford hatchback which had enough room for our bags of a family of 3.

The only downside about dropping your car off at a different location is the high fee you will pay. That's why we hired from Christchurch and dropped off there, instead of Queenstown.

I know you have already booked your accommodation but would mention Lake Tekapo Scenic Resort has lovely accommodation. We stayed there for convenience as we had booked a heli tour to Mt Cook. Unfortunately, due to bad weather & poor visibility the heli tours were cancelled. So bear this in mind and have a backup plan just in case. Also, there is an Observatory nr Lake Tekapo if you want to see the night sky. Very reasonably priced. Sometimes the local school sell tickets as a fundraising event.

Re activities, if you choose to wait until you get there to book here's a tip... before you leave print off the web page with the advertised price. When we arrived at one location the price they quoted was much higher, but when I produced a copy of their ad, they had to sell us the tickets for that price!

7. Re: Trip to South Island in April...need suggestions

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