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South Island Quick Tour

Doing the South Island in 7 days.
13 years ago, November 12th 2007 No: 21 Msg: #22382  
If you want to sky dive I did mine in Queenstown over the most fantastic scenery (was where Lord of the Rings was filmed, Isengard, Two towers, etc, and Im a bit of a fan) and it was one of the best experiences of my life. We did seven months around the world but NZ was by far my favourite place, my recommendations are:

The Waitomo Caves - absolutely great, you get five hours underground,do a flying fox zip-wire thing, float down water in rubber rings while looking up at the glowworms, and climb up three waterfalls.

Franz Josef Glacier - also great, the tour guides are really easy-going and you go through little tunnels of ice and stuff, is quite surreal

Queenstown - sky dive, bungee, whatever - amazing. My friend got a package there where you can do bungee, sky dive, and other stuff for a reduced price. Worth going here just for the scenery.

Milford Sounds - we didn't go here cause we didn't have time but wish to god we had! Meant to be gorgeous

Kaikoura - dolphin swimming (you should book a week early so you know you'll be able to, we were too late. So we went near Christchurch and did ours there instead).

Oh, and if you're going to Greymouth, go to the hostel with baths. We were so excited, we hadnt had a bath for months, and they have bubble baths! Think its called Neptune. And they have a cute cat.

Hope this helps. Reply to this

13 years ago, December 3rd 2007 No: 22 Msg: #23502  
May I add 2 other destinations worth visiting? I think you have not mentionned the Catlins down South which are just fantastic especially Nugget Point, there are a few nice scenic roads over there too and Stewart Island where you can see kiwis in Wild. Obviously you might not be able to visit these if you are not staying for a long time but for people you stay longer go there it's really nice. Reply to this

13 years ago, December 7th 2007 No: 23 Msg: #23833  
This post has given me great ideas on where to go for our 11-day South Island trip next month. But I'm not sure how long to spend in each spot. Can someone give me an idea of how I should spread out my 10 days across these cities? Here's what I was thinking:

Arrive Christchurch around 2pm (1 night or maybe drive straight to Dunedin?)
Drive to Dunedin (2 nights)
Queenstown (3 nights)
Te Anau (2 nights)
Greymouth (2 nights)
Tranzalpine to Christchurch (1 night before an early morning flight)

Am I overlooking anything with this itinerary? I read some good things about Mt. Cook, and we're missing the north part of the island. And do I really need a rain coat?

Thanks. Reply to this

13 years ago, December 8th 2007 No: 24 Msg: #23840  
You may not need 2 nights at Dunedin. Christchurch is worth a look and would also recommend a night at Franz Josef. There's lots to see & do around the glaciers. Also, if ya get the chance, stop in and have a,ook at Hokitika gorge on the way to Greymouth. We loved it.

To help you out futher, let us know what sort stuff you intend doing. ie: mainly sightseeing or you into hiking & the like.

Our itinerary over 14 days was:

Christchurch (1night) - checking out the city
Kaikoura (1night) - whalewatching
Hokitika (1night) - Hokitika Gorge
Franz Josef (1night) - helicopter flight & also both glaciers (walks)
Wanaka (2nights) - chill out & relax in a great spot
Te Anau (4 nights) - overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound, Milford Sound
Queenstown (2nights) - Skyline, TSS Earnslaw, Jet Boat
Mt Cook (1night) - small hike
Christchurch (1night) - had to leave at 7am

Col Reply to this

13 years ago, December 8th 2007 No: 25 Msg: #23843  
We like sightseeing, hiking, and some adventurous things. Probably won't skydive or bungy jump since my husband is afraid of heights. But we're down for some smaller scale adrenaline rushes. We definitely plan to do the full day hike at Franz Josef.

Do you recommend skipping Dunedin all together? I heard the Taeri Gorge Rail trip is awesome, that's one of the reasons we were heading to Dunedin.

I haven't research Hokitika, but I keep seeing that people on here loved it. So we will try to fit that in.

Also, which direction should we go? Christchurch to Dunedin to Queenstown to Te Anau to Greymouth to Franz Josef and back to CHCH? Or the opposite way? Reply to this

13 years ago, December 8th 2007 No: 26 Msg: #23844  
We didnt get to Dunedin so wouldnt say whether to miss it or not. We just didnt have to time get there with the stuff we wanted to do.

With your liking for walking then you will love the west coast. We didnt see much to make us stop at geymouth. But you will love the glaciers and you will be pleasantly surprised if you make your way to Hokitika Gorge.

As for direction we found that there appeared to be more traffic going the opposite way to us which was great, we had a comfortable drive. Think we did it that way because we wanted to make sure we got a whale watch cruise in and allow an extra day if need be. Everything worked perfectly. We were blessed with awesome weather the whole time. (Feb 2007).

Col Reply to this

13 years ago, December 8th 2007 No: 27 Msg: #23847  
Hmm, so do you think there is less traffic if we travel the island this way?

Christchurch - 1 night
Tranzalpine to Greymouth - 1 night, check out Hokitika
Franz Josef - 1 night
Wanaka - 2 nights
Queenstown - 2 nights
Te Anau - 2 nights
Dunedin - 1 night
Christchurch - 1 night (stop and check out Waimate on the way back to Christchurch)

Any feedback on this new itinerary Col? I'm taking your recommendation about Wanaka and Hokitika. I really appreciate all your comments. I finally feel like this road trip is starting to come together.

What car rental company did you use? Reply to this

13 years ago, December 8th 2007 No: 28 Msg: #23848  
I do the New Zealand Travel 24/7-365 days a year now for four years................here is my suggestion!

day 1-
from Picton take Route One south heading for Kaikoura it is a 2 1/2 hour drive. You will go through NZ’s top wine country at Blenhiem. A drive through will be interesting. Go to the Whalewatch and check in to see what’s happening. I would say an afternoon ride or the 7:30am ride best in the morning. 98% chance to see whales guaranteed with an 80% money return if not.(www.whalewatch.co.nz ).
Now here is an interesting ride if you got time. Northof Kaikoura I suggest you go along the coast until you see a small sign on the right marking Ohah Falls.
Nice short walk to the falls and certain times of the year their will be young seals in the pool.
Continue along the road where the pull offs occur stop and have a close look at all the fur seals everywhere on the rocks some quite close.
Kaikoura is a small community that is easy to walk around the central area but I recommend taking the drive through town for a look. Several good cafes, restaurants and galleries.

day 2
Now we drive south on Route one to the turnoff to Hanmer Springs along the Leader River to route 70 to route 7 and turn right to the turnoff to Hanmer. (1 1/2 hour drive)Great place to stop and enjoy the top hot springs in the country and spend the night. (www.hanmersprings.co.nz). Good restaurants here.

day 3 -
From Hanmer Springs we take route 7 west on one of the most beautiful drives in
the county, Lewis Pass. The road cuts through Lake Sumner Forest, Victoria Forest and the Lewis Pass National Reserve and along the Inangahua River to Blacks Point and Reefton. Be sure to stop at the Information Site as it is most interesting plus if you want to enjoy some short walks this is a great place. maps at the Centre.
From Reefton take route 69 north to route 6 at Inangahua Junction turning right along the Buller River. Stay on route 6 south now down the West Coast of the South Island. After Charleston the coastal scenery becomes magic. Be sure to stop at the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks. from here we drive on to Hokitika where we stay the night. (driving time Hanmer to Hokitika - 4 hours). I recommend the Shining Star Resort(www.shiningstar.co.nz ) just as you enter town right on route 6.

day 4/5 -
Be sure to have a walk around Hokitika as it is the top town for the best in quality artists and craftspeople in the South Island especially the greenstone and other jewellery. A very pleasant town. Now we are off to Franz Josef and the Glacier Country (www.glaciercountry.co.nz ).(driving time is 2 hours-10min) Here is where you can enjoy a helicopter ride to the top of the glacier or a walk. You also can walk to the base of both Franz Josef and Fox Glacier from close car parks south of both towns.
Fox Glacier is 23 kms south of Franz Josef. Two days here to see it all. On the north end of Fox Glacier take the Cooks Flat Road to the right and take a walk around one of the picture post card lakes, Lake Matheson. Fantastic!

day 6-
From Franz Josef continue south on route six to the end of the West Coast at Haast.
Continue up the Haast River Valley and through the Mount Aspiring National Park. be sure to stop and take the short walk to see Thunder Falls and just beyond stop and see the Gates of Haast bridge before heading up the mountain to Haast Pass. From here the road passes by Lake Wanaka on the right and then Lake Hawea on the right before coming to Wanaka a short drive from route 6 on route 84. Stay the night. (driving time - 5 hours)

day 7 -
Now a beautiful drive to Queenstown. Back to route six and then through the Kawarau Gorge the wine country of this area (Gibbston Valley Winery) and stop to see them jump off the bridge at the original bungy jump area. From there not too far down the road turn right to Arrowtown, an old gold mining town of great beauty and interesting to stop and have a walk around. Check out the old Chinese Village down by the Arrow River in back of the town. Now on to Queenstown for the night or here in Arrowtown.
( driving time - 1 1/2 hours).

day 8 -
A day in Queenstown. Lots to see and do. Amsfield Winery Restaurant is the best (www.queenstown.co.nz ).

day 9/10 -
Off to Te Anau and Milford Sound (www.fiordland.co.nz) Book your trip for either the Milford Sound Cruise or the Doubtful Sound Cruise tomorrow. From Queenstown take route 6 south along Lake Wakitipu to Five Rivers (good cafe)
and take the short cut to route 94 at Mossburn and on to Te Anau.
(driving time - 2 12/ hour drive)

day 11 -
From Te Anau we drive south on route 94 toward Gore and route 1 and on to Dunedin. I recommend taking the Monarch Cruise (www.wildlfe.co.nz ) to get to really see and appreciate this area the best and see the penguins tomorrow morning. Stay in Dunedin the night. (driving time is 4 hours)

day 12 -
From Dunedin we drive north on route 1 to Oamaru. On the way after the small town of Palmerston keep a look out on the right for Shag Point. Turn in and go to the end of the road (not a known tourist spot). Here you can get up close and personal with a colony of young male fur seals safely from overlooking rocks. A special place. No hurry today since you have an appointment with little Blue Penguins tonight after dark. (www.penguins.co.nz ) At Oamaru check into the Penguin Colony to make arrangements for the evening event. Amazing to watch!
After Shag Point is the Moeraki Boulders and for one of the top award winning restaurants in the country go to Fleurs Place in the small town of Moeraki.
Stay the night in Oamaru area. (driving time is 1 1/2 hours from Dunedin)

day 13 -
From Oamaru we head north to the turnoff on route 83 inland to the Mckenzie Country that will be covered in a rainbow of coloured flowers everywhere (lupins).
At Omarama you might want to stop at the Totara Flats Gallery to see the display of Xena (tv show) costumes before moving on. It is off to Mt. Cook (www.mtcooknz.com ) staying at the Heritage tonight. (driving time - 2 hours).
Be sure to drive up Mt John to the observatory (next to Lake Tekapo) and see the little church on the lake.

day 14 -
The drive to Christchurch from here is 3 hours. You ca stop in Geraldine to see the
Work of the Maori artist, Peter J. Caley.

All in all you will have seen it all and done it all as far as the real New Zealand is concerned. You will have seen and experienced the best if you use this itinerary.
Lots here the normal visitor never knows about or is ever told.
Have a fun holiday!

If you are interested in cafes and good coffee have a look at the coffee site – www.newzealandcoffeeguide.co.nz
or more travel information at www.newzealandtravelguide.net

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