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Which activity to miss?

Washington DC...
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Which activity to miss?

We're focusing now on a South Island trip with 4 nights in Queenstown and 2 in Wanaka.

We'll fly in from Canberra/Sydney on a Saturday in early and fly back to Sydney on the Friday. With this model, we'd get a car for the last 3 days to go to Wanaka/Mt. Aspire and use Queenstown-based excursions for transport the first 3 days.

We do not plan on an overnight at the sound or air tours.

But going to both Milford and Doubtful Sounds seems appealing--for the scenery on the drive to Milford and for the experience of getting to and seeing Doubtful.

If we were to do that, we'd need to skip one of the following:

Would doing BOTH sound trips be worth skipping one of the following--and which? Feedback on these excustions would also be welcomed.

Walter Peak/TSS Earnslaw trip

Dart River Jet Safari

Skipper Canyon Wine Tour

Many thanks.

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1. Re: Which activity to miss?

No. The excursions you have identified showcase the highlights of Queenstown. The SW corner of the South Island is indented with 'sounds' - you can't go to them all - & anyway 'more is not better'! Pick one [both have own virtues] & enjoy

Oz
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2. Re: Which activity to miss?

Hi,

Agree with QtnBoutiqueHo... Being a regular visitor from Oz to the South Island we have over time visited both Milford and Doubtful Sounds and believe both are amazing. However we thought Doubtful Sound would be our choice if we could only do one.

Stick with the excursions you have identified they are fantastic and don't forget the Gondola/Skyline buffet.

Cheers,

South Island
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3. Re: Which activity to miss?

The $150 day trip/cruise to Milford Sound from Queenstown return in a luxury coach with glass roof appears to be by far the best value activity. Compare that to the price of the other excursions and/or the day trips to Doubtful Sound.

Its a shame you are excluding the flights because coach cruise fly Milford Sound would surely be the highlight of your four days in Queenstown

Prices for the coach cruise Milford Sound and the flight back to Queenstown start at $350 upwards.

Perth, Australia
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4. Re: Which activity to miss?

Definately make sure you do the Dart River Jet Safari, that was my number 2 highlight after the Milford Road. I did the TSS Earnslaw cruise but did not stop at Walter Peak. The cruise was nice but fi I had to leave somehting off this list that would be it. However even though I haven't done Doubtful Sound I agree with the above comments that you should pick one or the other.

Colorado
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for Western Australia
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5. Re: Which activity to miss?

Ditto what Jess says, given your choices, I'd give the TSS Earnslaw a miss. There are better ways to spend your time IMO.

Big Island, Hawaii
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6. Re: Which activity to miss?

Honu, consider Whare Kea lodge in Wanaka. It really is a fantastic place, and had the best food of our entire NZ trip except perhaps Cable Bay on Waiheke Island. We did a lovely day hike from there, the Rob Roy Glacier hike, in Mt. aspiring National park.

We stayed at Blanket Bay outside of Queenstown and loved the Dart River jet boat safari, which picked us up right from the dock in front of the lodge. Also we found the boardwalk in Glenorchy with the black swans and golden autumn colors really spectacular. We really liked BB, but next time I think I'd stay at Matakauri since I've heard so many good things about it and we loved Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers, sister properties.

Edited: 09 October 2011, 22:43
Washington DC...
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7. Re: Which activity to miss?

Thanks, all. These are all wonderful suggestions and we've spent quite some time figuring out what to do.

In the end, we decided to drive less, tour more. We'll be spending 4 nights in Queenstown and 2 in Wanaka, both in centrally located places to walk to dinner, shop, the gondola, etc. The luxury places we'd heard so many glowing things about turned out to be far beyond our budget for this trip (they are in the thousands per night range), so we're picking places in the under $400 USD/night range--perhaps Browns in Queenstown and Wanaka Springs Lodge.

Against advice, we are taking both the Milford and Doubtful trips, as well as the Skippers Canyon and Wine Tasting tour and a wine tasting in Wanaka also. (They do not duplicate wineries.) We will take some nice walks, including in Mt. Aspiring national park. This does not have to be our last trip to New Zealand, so perhaps another time we will be able to do more driving, see the glaciers, etc.

New Zealand
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8. Re: Which activity to miss?

Have a great trip. Please return afterwards and let us know how it all goes :)

Colorado
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9. Re: Which activity to miss?

Good on ya for slowing things down Honu-Ohana. You'll be glad you did. enjoy NZ!

Washington DC...
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10. Re: Which activity to miss?

Just an update...we did both the Milforsd andDoubtful trips. We were fortunate to have a warm and sunny day at Milford, saw dolphins and seals and got a bit of a tan despite sunscreen. Doubtful was typical fiord land weather, no dolphins but lots of seals and loveliness. Weather apart, I think I liked the Doubtful trip the most...enjoyed the coach trip to the sound because of the ferns and waterfalls and streams and liked the peaceful fiord ambiance. Milford was a spectaculars drive...there is no wrong choice!

We also went to Skippers Canyon and that was an incredible trip...I really enjoyed seeing the gold areas, the buggy bridges, and all the amazing views. I suppose someone who does not like heights and sheer drop offs might not like the trip, but the four wheel drive vehicle Queenstown Heritage tours uses "feels" very secure and the road is actually used quite a bit by residents.

Thank you for all your help!