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4 nights - Stay in Queenstown or Ta Anau?

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4 nights - Stay in Queenstown or Ta Anau?

I wish I had more time but I'll only be in New Zealand for 4 nights/5days. I'll be flying in from Sydney to Queenstown on Tues. May 3rd arriving at 15:30 PM and then fly back out of Queenstown on Saturday May 7th at 16:15 PM. I mainly want to be outdoors taking in all the of the beautiful scenery and would like to do both the Milford Sound cruise and the Doubful Sound overnight cruise. I'm not into the thrill things like bunjee jumping and speed boats but also wouldn't mind getting in a short nature hike for a few hours but nothing too strenuous again just to admire the beautiful scenery. If possible, I wouldn't mind seeing the Glow Worm Caves as well or anything else in Te Anau while I'm there.

Since I have limited time and was mostly focused on the two sound cruises, I was wondering if I should just stay in Te Anaua vs Queenstown? Here are two potential itineraries I was debating and would welcome any and all feedback on them. Feel free to totally change it around if you think there's a better way. I'm traveling by myself and am 52 years old. Thanks for your help.

Itinery 1:

Tues 3 - arrive 15:30 at Queenstown airport and get transportation to Te Anau and spend the night (what's the chepaest option for getting to Te Anau?)

Wed 4 - Doubtful Sound overnight

Thurs 5 - Doubtful Sound (Glow Worm Cave in evening?)

Fri 6 - Milford Sound, afterwards get bus back to Queenstown to spend the night there

Sat 7 - Queenstown, possibly Gondola ride or morning hike, then off to airport

Itinery 2:

Tues 3 - arrive 15:30 at Queenstown airport and get transportation into town. Possibly Gondola ride and walk around town

Wed 4 - Doubtful Sound overnight (Can you do that from Queenstown?)

Thurs 5 - Doubtful Sound (Glow Worm Cave in evening?) Transportation back to Queenstown.

Fri 6 - Milford Sound day trip

Sat 7 - Queenstown, possibly morning hike or trip to Arrowtown, then off to airport

Orewa, New Zealand
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1. Re: 4 nights - Stay in Queenstown or Ta Anau?

It is about 2 1/2 hours drive between Queenstown and Te Anau and since most of what you want to do is near Te Anau it would be impractical to keep returning to Queenstown each night. Definitely you should stick to your first itinerary and stay in Te Anau.

The Doubtful Sound overnight cruise is really amazing and you will enjoy the scenery on the road to Milford Sound as much as the boat trip itself.

There are lots of lovely short hikes you can do from both Te Anau and Queenstown.Check out these links:



or pick up a brochure about the local walks from the Information Centres in either Queenstown or Te Anau.

South Island
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2. Re: 4 nights - Stay in Queenstown or Ta Anau?

Another alternative would be stay in Queenstown the first night tues 3. Do the overnight to Doubtful with Real Journeys Wed 4. Stay Te Anau and glow worms Thurs 5. Day trip Milford Sound do the cruise and return to Queenstown Fri 6. Some of the tour companies don't charge any extra to go right back to Queenstown eventhough its a day trip out of Te Anau.

I have noticed many people who do a Milford Sound day trip from Te Anau return to Queenstown on the same bus for no extra charge. Send me a PM if you are unable to find details of companies who do this.

Edited: 13 March 2011, 20:11
Queenstown, New...
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3. Re: 4 nights - Stay in Queenstown or Ta Anau?

Two things pop into mind.

1. is the overnight cruise operating at that time of the year.

2. would I do both sounds in this sort situation? The answer is no.

The best sound to do is Doubtful. So yes do that.

The glow worm caves are interesting, but personally putting aside a whole day for them is over rating them.

Some of the best scenery is in the Glenorcy area. Skippers canyon also.

I would base myself in Queenstown , fly to Milford sound by helicopter do a glacier landing on the way back, go up to Glenorcy and take a jetboat ride into the Alps. Visit Arrowtown and Queenstown.

Leave the glow worms until you visit the north island the Wiatomo caves are the best in NZ.

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4. Re: 4 nights - Stay in Queenstown or Ta Anau?

With such limited time I think doing both fiords is one too many. If wanting to do both then Bill's outline makes good sense.

If wanting to do one, then either Milford by day (the Milford Road is glorious), or Doubtful by night. I would base myself in Te Anau and explore one or the other from there, plus enjoy some of the excellent hiking.

You also might enjoy the short film Ata Whenua, Shadowlands, shown in the cinema built specially for it. It's a stunning 30 minutes long.

Have a wonderful visit :)

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5. Re: 4 nights - Stay in Queenstown or Ta Anau?

Thanks to all for your great replies and perspectives. I'm still contemplating what my best options are. Anyone else that wants to weigh in, please do. Thanks again.

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6. Re: 4 nights - Stay in Queenstown or Ta Anau?


We just returned (to CLT) from NZ.

Spent a glorious day on Doubtful.

Stay in Te Anau.

Gondola in ZQN definitely, do the paragliding.

Drive to Glenorchy gorgeous.

Have a PLAN B in mind, the weather is very unpredictable.

Troy, Michigan
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7. Re: 4 nights - Stay in Queenstown or Ta Anau?

I just finished up a trip to NZ and spent 3 nites in Te Anau and 3 in QT. I did the Milford Sound day trip and Doubtful Sound overniter. Given your short schedule I'd suggest doing the Milford Sound Day Trip or Doubtful Sound Overniter - not both. I enjoyed the Glow worms but I would not go out of my way or spend an extra day in Te Anau just for that trip. They have late afternoon/evening trips that you might be able to fit into your travel plans. Lots to do in QT. We loved the Dart River Jet boat trip, a stroll in the Queenstown park, and a trip up the gondola.

8. Re: 4 nights - Stay in Queenstown or Ta Anau?

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