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Worst roads

Perth, WA
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for Seminyak
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4,939 posts
99 reviews
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Worst roads

We have just begun researching for our driving trip and wonder which roads are the most difficult for driving and if we should avoid them by joining tours - where appropriate. I think the Milford Road is one.

We anticipate staying at Q'town, Wanaka, Te Anau, Franz Josef, Mt Cook. Originally we were going to drive from Ch/church to Q'land but wonder what we might regret missing if we eliminate the drive and fly from CC to Q'town.

Thanks.

Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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1. Re: Worst roads

Driving from Chch to Queensland is complicated by the Tasman Sea, so yes flying is a good idea ;-)

Seriously - If you want to see both Mt Cook & FJG, which are on opposite sides of the Alps, you need to drive the full circle. This is mostly on good main roads. SI "highways" can be narrow, esp by Australian standards - think UK "A" roads, without the roundabouts (!!). There are no divided highways on this route, and there are many one way bridges. However if you drive to the speed limit posted for twisty bits and sharp corners (sometimes as low as 35 kph) you will be fine.

Some people find the Homer Tunnel & the steep descent into Milford Sound a little scary, esp in a camper van and for this reason we recommend a coach tour.

Perth, WA
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for Seminyak
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2. Re: Worst roads

Thanks. What route would be considered as "full circle".

We'd already decided we would give the Milford Sound road a miss :-)

Singapore, Singapore
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3. Re: Worst roads

I drove on Milford Sound road last December and I found the drive very pleasant. The whole car was quite excited when we drove through the Homer Tunnel. The scenery alone the way is beautiful. It is not as unsafe as some other people may think if you drive in caution. It is a shame to give it a miss.

Too few days to cover too many beautiful places.

Perth, WA
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for Seminyak
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99 reviews
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4. Re: Worst roads

We will get to see the Milford Road - but via a coach tour. Yes, you're right, too few days, but we have to consider ourselves so lucky to get the opportunity to see just part of this wonderland.

Christchurch
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12 reviews
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5. Re: Worst roads

<<What route would be considered as "full circle".>>

Christchurch > Greymouth/Punakaiki > Franz Josef Glacier > Haast > Wanaka > Queenstown/Milford > Mount Cook > Christchurch.... roughly. Have a browse through the multitude of South Island itineraries posted here to get an idea of where to go.

Perth, WA
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for Seminyak
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4,939 posts
99 reviews
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6. Re: Worst roads

Foxy, we have - the problem is there are too many differences of the main theme. Maybe we need to know what can be missed rather than what should be seen? The average seems to be 10 days so we do have the luxury of an extra 4 days. Deciding where to spend those has now become another major decision. We do enjoy walking - but unfortunately, due to a lung function problem - it has to be on the flat.

Is there somewhere that offers more level walks? Thanks again.

Western Victoria
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347 posts
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7. Re: Worst roads

Where does anyone get the idea that the Milford road is "too dangerous" to drive ????

As long as your vehicle fits the tunnel, and they run buses through all the time, it is an excellent drive.

But, having driven it, I will get the bus next time so I can sit back and see the sights.

Dont blame the roads when it is your timidness that is the problem.

Stay on the ground, in 2 days you can get in some excellent views of Lindis Pass, Mt Cook, Lakes Pukaki & Tekapo as well as some pretty little towns like Omarama, Lae Tekapo, Farilie, Geraldine etc

New Zealand
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for South Island
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8. Re: Worst roads

14 days and want scenic?

1 arrive Chch

2 drive to Hokitika or Punakaiki

3 drive to Franz Josef - flat walk to glacier veiwpoint

4 drive to Wanaka - flat walks to waterfalls and Blue Pools enroute

5 explore - flat walks along lake edge

6 drive to Dunedin

7 explore

8 drive to Te Anau - short film Ata Whenua

9 Bus tour Milford Sound, stay Te Anau

10 drive to Queenstown

11 explore - TSS Earnslaw?

12 drive to Aoraki/Mt Cook - easy walks to enjoy …govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/…

13 drive to Chch

14 fly out

Perth, WA
Destination Expert
for Seminyak
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4,939 posts
99 reviews
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9. Re: Worst roads

That is brilliant, thanks, much appreciated.

JeffK - we will be staying on the ground and the notion that some roads were bad and best to be avoided came from reading the comments of others. It's all a matter of opinion.

California
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10. Re: Worst roads

The roads are well maintained in New Zealand. You might run across some roads off the beaten path that are unsealed, but for the most part, even these are nicely graded. Where the danger lies is when people, visitors and locals alike, are not fully alert or are trying to make a deadline and driving too fast. The roads are not multilane highways, they are one lane each way and follow the contours of the mountains and wind around farmland in the flatter areas. But if you are alert and relaxed, the roads are no problem.

If twisty roads bother you, you can't avoid them altogether. As you have noted, Milford Road might be best done by tour so you can look around at the sights rather than focus on the road. I'll just say for the record, Takaka Hill is not a road to be in a hurry going over. Also, rental cars are not allowed on Skippers Canyon Road (Queenstown area), and for good reason. There's no place to pull over or turn around!

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