Help with early October NZ destination: Queenstown? Elsewhere?

Old Apr 1, 19, 12:57 pm
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Help with early October NZ destination: Queenstown? Elsewhere?

I've been doing a lot of reading and am still confused about this. In short, we have from October 7-12 (this is fixed) to spend in NZ and are trying to figure out how to plan it. Key considerations are:
  1. No hotel hopping! One destination optimal, would consider moving once but not twice.
  2. Plan is to rent a car and do day trips...so we want a place from which worthwhile day trips are possible.
  3. Needs to be near vineyards.
  4. We want to see nature and especially wildlife.
I think Queenstown hits all of these...but I'm concerned about the weather in early October. I read in some places this is "spring" and is beautiful, but elsewhere I read its definitely the off season and we risk bad weather. My wife is concerned Q-Town is all about extreme sports, but I get the impression you can certainly have a great time there without partaking. (I was also considering using Lake Taupo as a base from which to visit the surrounding area...but it seemed to me Q-Town is more dramatic.)

Given our considerations and the timing, do you think Queenstown is the right place to go? What would you do?

Thanks in advance for your advice...
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Old Apr 1, 19, 2:10 pm
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For 5 days, basing yourself in Queenstown sounds good. I didn't do any extreme sports while I was there as there was plenty of hikes with great views within Queenstown or a few hours drive away (Milford Sound and Wanaka in opposite directions, although Milford Sound would be quite a long and tiring trip if you did a self-drive roundtrip in one day). There isn't much wildlife beyond the occasional goat, lamb, and kea. Hopefully someone else can fill you in with vineyards as I don't drink wine.
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Old Apr 1, 19, 2:26 pm
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https://www.queenstownnz.co.nz/things-to-do/wineries/
Two Paddocks wine yard is 90 km from Queenstown.
https://www.twopaddocks.com/

Queenstown a far better location for your interests than Taupo. The region has a lot more than adventure activities
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Old Apr 1, 19, 5:20 pm
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October weather can be cold and wet around ZQN, also not really wine country ... but beautiful. Area around Nelson (north end of south island) is warmer and has a thriving arts & crafts community which is world famous (think Carmel), as well as excellent vineyards. Another alternative is Napier on north island, which is the largest art deco town in the world (it was destroyed by earthquake last century and rebuilt as all art deco style). Finally Bay of Islands north of AKL is gorgeous and much warmer (semi-tropical). In Queenstown you could get snow
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Old Apr 3, 19, 4:35 pm
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Bannockburn and Gibbston Valley have several wineries with great restaurants, and are within 45 minutes drive from Queenstown. Nature and wildlife can be covered by a day trip to Milford Sound. You could do a bus one way and flight the other if the budget permits, and there are plenty of return coach trips with lots of stops in Fiordland National Park along the way. Plenty to do in Queenstown without jumping off anything, such as Earnslaw, Skyline Gondala, etc. Spring is beautiful - snow is rare and would most likely be on the mountains. Rain in Milford Sound makes for a spectacular display of waterfalls so don't let that dampen your enthusiasm!
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Old Apr 4, 19, 12:25 pm
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I'm appreciating all of the input!

The disaster scenario I'm trying to avoid is spending a week in Queenstown where all we get is cold and rain all day, every day. I understand there are no guarantees, but I guess I'm trying to determine whether the chance of this happening is great enough such that we should avoid Queenstown entirely...

(For what it's worth, this was the ORD-SYD NZ $1500 RT biz deal...I had to pull the trigger very quickly, so I picked our anniversary. Had no time to check about weather!)
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Old Apr 4, 19, 12:26 pm
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Originally Posted by number_6 View Post
October weather can be cold and wet around ZQN, also not really wine country ... but beautiful. Area around Nelson (north end of south island) is warmer and has a thriving arts & crafts community which is world famous (think Carmel), as well as excellent vineyards. Another alternative is Napier on north island, which is the largest art deco town in the world (it was destroyed by earthquake last century and rebuilt as all art deco style). Finally Bay of Islands north of AKL is gorgeous and much warmer (semi-tropical). In Queenstown you could get snow
Originally Posted by SilverTP View Post
Bannockburn and Gibbston Valley have several wineries with great restaurants, and are within 45 minutes drive from Queenstown. Nature and wildlife can be covered by a day trip to Milford Sound. You could do a bus one way and flight the other if the budget permits, and there are plenty of return coach trips with lots of stops in Fiordland National Park along the way. Plenty to do in Queenstown without jumping off anything, such as Earnslaw, Skyline Gondala, etc. Spring is beautiful - snow is rare and would most likely be on the mountains. Rain in Milford Sound makes for a spectacular display of waterfalls so don't let that dampen your enthusiasm!
Here's my dilemma in a nutshell. Is it likely to be cold an wet or beautiful?
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Old Apr 4, 19, 12:50 pm
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Far more chance of beautiful than cold/wet
Just go to central Otago - Queenstown
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Old Apr 4, 19, 5:21 pm
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Originally Posted by as219 View Post
Here's my dilemma in a nutshell. Is it likely to be cold an wet or beautiful?
Here's a link about weather in spring: https://www.queenstownnz.co.nz/plan/...in-queenstown/
Looking at historical data, it rains on average around 9 days per month in October. Typically you would get a few days of rain followed by a few days of clear skies.
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Old Apr 6, 19, 3:37 am
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Chance of bad weather is maybe 30% but further north that would be 10%. But weather isnt the only consideration, there is huge diversity in NZ so you have choice of different experiences based on which part you visit. The norht of the north island is sub-tropical while parts of the south island vary from temperate rainforest (rains 350 days a year) to brutally cold and windy. Queenstown is in-between and very beautiful, but so are many warmer parts of NZ. All depends what you prefer. Also if flying in/out of ZQN, allow an extra day if connecting internationally as delays are common at that airport.
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Old Apr 6, 19, 1:27 pm
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Originally Posted by number_6 View Post
.. Also if flying in/out of ZQN, allow an extra day if connecting internationally as delays are common at that airport.
Can you please statistical evidence of that? And include for October
While ZQN can have occasional delays in mid winter hardly common.
But do agree if a connecting internationally need to allow a good margin of safety. So the day before to AKL is advisable.
To me October would be a good time to visit Queenstown area.
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Old Apr 6, 19, 5:27 pm
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My own experience is 3 flights out of ZQN in past decade, all delayed by over an hour and 1 delayed by 24 hours ... maybe bad luck on my part. Each pax has to make their own evaluation of on-time performance risk, just be aware that ZQN has some special factors which make delays more likely than other nearby airports, CHC for example.
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Old Apr 30, 19, 8:28 pm
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The advantage of Queenstown is you have hiking and wineries right there but yea, weather is a big unknown. One other option might be the north part of the South Island. Marlborough wineries are much better than Otago/Queenstown in my opinion but things to do are more spread out. (Otago is all Pinot Noir, if you care about that). We stayed a few days near Blenheim and it was great for wine but to get great hiking we headed up northwest towards Abel Tasman. We have been twice and we love Queenstown so hard to go wrong with that unless you get REALLY bad weather luck.
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Old May 3, 19, 2:59 pm
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As someone who lives down in that part of the world, Queenstown sounds like it ticks all your boxes as a base. Last year, we had a fantastic winter and spring and (oddly) most of our rain was in end of November/December (Summer). Spring is typically characterised by cool and clear nights, but usually means beautiful clear days. Obviously there are going to be days of rain but I'd be highly surprised if you had a week of rain. Queenstown has lots of adventure activities, but I'd take a bet that the many of visitors to the region are not there to participate in these (i'm excluding skiing here) and the region caters for the non-adventure types well. There is Amisfield winery, which is popular and only ~15 minutes from Downtown ZQN. A longer drive exposes you to some of the best Pinot Noir in the world. There are plenty of day trips, like Wanaka or Milford Sound for marine wild life and spectacular scenery. Your probably not going to see much other wildlife except sheep and cows...although, there used to be Kiwi at the base of the gondala, not sure if they are still there anymore.

I wouldn't recommend Taupo - it's pretty boring for day trips and just as likely to get rain. Nelson/Blenheim could be good if you want wine and good weather, but may be a little less to do there.
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Old May 3, 19, 3:03 pm
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Originally Posted by number_6 View Post
My own experience is 3 flights out of ZQN in past decade, all delayed by over an hour and 1 delayed by 24 hours ... maybe bad luck on my part. Each pax has to make their own evaluation of on-time performance risk, just be aware that ZQN has some special factors which make delays more likely than other nearby airports, CHC for example.
I have no idea how many flights I've taken in and out of ZQN (maybe 50?), but I have had more issues in CHC with fog, than issues in ZQN. Maybe I've just been lucky, but ZQN has improved substantially with more and more jet aircraft servicing the airport and the introduction of Skypath technology allowing the planes to land in much more difficult conditions.
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