New Zealand South Island Itinerary

Old Jan 12, 20, 10:08 pm
  #1  
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New Zealand South Island Itinerary

Would like some advice or tips if there are any before going on the trip. I'm more of a nature person. Anything I'm missing out in regards to nature would be nice to hear! Also, if you see anything that seems to ambitious in a given day, let me know as well!

Day 1:
- Drive to Tekapo (3 hrs from Christchurch)
- Church of the Good Shepherd
- Peter's Lookout in Lake Pukaki
- Mount John Observatory (day and night)
- Buy things at supermarket for mt cook.
- Stay in Lake Tekapo

Day 2:
- Drive to Mount Cook National Park (1hr 10 minutes) from Tekapo
- Hooker Valley (sunset)
- Stay in Mt Cook

Day 3:
- Hike Mueller Hut or Kea Point?
- Stay in Mt Cook

Day 4:
- Drive to Wanaka (2.5hrs) from Mount Cook
- Hike Rocky Mountain Track (2-3 hrs)
- Stay in Airbnb

Day 5:
- Hike Rob Roy Glacier (4 hrs) (depending if it rained recently) or stick with Roys Peak (5-6 hrs)
- Wanaka Tree
- Stay in Airbnb

Day 6:
- Hike Isthmus Peak (5-6 hrs)
- Glendhu Bay
- Stay in Airbnb

Day 7:
- Hike Roys Peak (5-6 hrs)
- Stay in Airbnb

Day 8:
- Lake Hawea
- Drive to Te Anau (3 hrs) from Wanaka
- Check out lake in Te Anau?
- Stay in Te Anau

Day 9:
- Drive to 79 Milford Sound Highway, Milford Sound 9679, New Zealand (2 hrs) start at 7am (check weather conditions as road may be closed)
- Cruise is at 10:30am.
- Best stops are Eglinton Valley, Mirror Lake, Hollyford Pass and the Chasm
- Do Fjord Cruise or Scenic Flight
- Hike Lake Marian
- Stay in Te Anau

Day 10:
- Drive to Queenstown (2 hrs) from Te Anau
- hike?
- Stay in Queenstown

Day 11:
- Drive to Franz Josef (5 hrs) from Queenstown
- Stay in Franz Josef

Day 12:
- Glacier Hike at 8:30am
- Stay in Franz Josef

Day 13:
- Hike Alex Knob hike (6-8 hr)
- Stay in Franz Josef

Day 14:
- Lake Matheson
- Drive to Arthurs Pass Village (3hrs) from Franz Josef
- Take break at Hokitika Gorge
- Stay at Arthur's Pass Village

Day 15:
- Hike Avalanche Peak (6-8hrs)
- Stay in Arthur's Pass Village

Day 16:
- Drive to ChristChurch
- Explore ChristChurch & head to airport
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Old Jan 12, 20, 11:22 pm
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The normal comments apply
  • Trying to do too much in not many days. No contingency for delays. A lot in 16 days. Even though you have planned to be in same place for 2 ~3 nights. You are in NZ for break: not continuous hard work.
  • Driving immediately after a long flight is not recommended. Especially if you are not used to right hand drive.
  • It takes longer to drive between destinations than you think. Gmaps is OK, but does does not allow time for stops to look at view, shorts walks, long lunches etc
  • Day 10 you could continue on to overnight in Wanaka. Shorter drive the next day
  • Some day/days it will rain. That's why NZ and the West Coast in particular is green. Will slow you down and/or you will not be able to do some activities on the minute/hour/day as planned (Looks like you have planned to the minute)
  • Some walks/hikes may need to be booked with DOC. (I have not checked your hikes)
  • You do not state time of year, but at times roads on the coast can be closed due to weather. Has happened more than usual in the last year
  • Depending on time of year and how much money you want to spend accommodation may be hard (or easy?) to get

Several other threads about trips to NZ in the last year or so
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Last edited by Mwenenzi; Jan 12, 20 at 11:36 pm
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Old Jan 12, 20, 11:51 pm
  #3  
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Originally Posted by Mwenenzi View Post
The normal comments apply
  • Trying to do too much in not many days. No contingency for delays. A lot in 16 days. Even though you have planned to be in same place for 2 ~3 nights. You are in NZ for break: not continuous hard work.
  • Driving immediately after a long flight is not recommended. Especially if you are not used to right hand drive.
  • It takes longer to drive between destinations than you think. Gmaps is OK, but does does not allow time for stops to look at view, shorts walks, long lunches etc
  • Day 10 you could continue on to overnight in Wanaka. Shorter drive the next day
  • Some day/days it will rain. That's why NZ and the West Coast in particular is green. Will slow you down and/or you will not be able to do some activities on the minute/hour/day as planned (Looks like you have planned to the minute)
  • Some walks/hikes may need to be booked with DOC. (I have not checked your hikes)
  • You do not state time of year, but at times roads on the coast can be closed due to weather. Has happened more than usual in the last year
  • Depending on time of year and how much money you want to spend accommodation may be hard (or easy?) to get

Several other threads about trips to NZ in the last year or so
Thanks for your response! I'm going from 4/18-5/3. I'll be arriving at 8:25am in NZ. So I don't think it will be an issue for me driving right after. Rain is fine, I'm more concerned about wild animals popping out. I'll mostly be driving in the day so I'm not as concerned. Is there a particular day(s) you're concerned about doing too much?
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Old Jan 13, 20, 12:25 am
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For someone who's handle is "sleepy..." that is a very action packed itin. The roads can be challenging, and some are currently closed (today in Jan 2020) making some sectors impossible. I did a similar trip years ago (though not as much hiking) and loved it, so I can understand the allure, but it is wild country often with 1 road and no alternative routes. Franz Josef was closed in Dec 2019 by a landslide https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/ne...h-away-highway you can check on road conditions at https://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/we...raffic-updates

With proper planning it can be a great trip. Just allow some contingency, esp. on days when flying.
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Old Jan 13, 20, 12:59 am
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Originally Posted by number_6 View Post
For someone who's handle is "sleepy..." that is a very action packed itin. The roads can be challenging, and some are currently closed (today in Jan 2020) making some sectors impossible. I did a similar trip years ago (though not as much hiking) and loved it, so I can understand the allure, but it is wild country often with 1 road and no alternative routes. Franz Josef was closed in Dec 2019 by a landslide https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/ne...h-away-highway you can check on road conditions at https://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/we...raffic-updates

With proper planning it can be a great trip. Just allow some contingency, esp. on days when flying.
When you mean roads are challenging, how challenging is it? I get that if a natural disaster happens, it will ruin my itinerary. But that would be a major event. The days I am driving, I don't have much planned besides the drive. The days I do have stuff planned, its just the stuff and not much driving. I'm doing a ton of hikes as that is my interest. I've hiked 20 miles in one day and on the same day had to drive 3-4 hrs to another destination.. So I think I will be fine with the drives and the hikes shown. April to my knowledge is fall. Winter isn't until June? Crossing my fingers but I have noted that roads going to Milford Sound can potentially be closed due to weather.
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Old Jan 13, 20, 3:48 am
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Originally Posted by sleepy3192 View Post
Would like some advice or tips if there are any before going on the trip

Day 1:
- Drive to Tekapo (3 hrs from Christchurch)
- Church of the Good Shepherd
- Peter's Lookout in Lake Pukaki
- Mount John Observatory (day and night)
- Buy things at supermarket for mt cook.
- Stay in Lake Tekapo
I'd suggest Geraldine rather than Tekapo. It's a closer drive, which allows for delays and some getting used to NZ roads. Take the inland route, not the coastal route. It's a fabulous drive. Geraldine is close enough to Tekapo to not interfere with your plans otherwise, but less than half the cost and an interesting little place all of it's own. Shunt all the Tekapo stuff into day 2 - most of Tekapo is a tourist wasteland IMO, so I'd just get on with the Mt Cook stuff.

4 hikes in 5 days is.... rather ambitious. NZ hikes can be quite full on. They're not the average US-style countryside stroll that get called "hikes".


Day 12:
- Glacier Hike at 8:30am
- Stay in Franz Josef
The glacier is in thermal collapse. Don't expect it to be anything worth paying money to do/see.


I'd plan a bit more loosely if I were you. Have a list of things you want to do and the rough order of doing them, and then just see how many you get through, bearing in mind need to book for some, etc.
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Old Jan 13, 20, 7:32 am
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Spend day 1 in Christchurch. Jet lag is brutal when you fly to Australia or New Zealand, it will affect you for days. Donít get off the plane and take a long drive. NZ is wet. I spent three days at the glaciers, rained all 3 days and 3 days at Mount Cook, socked in with cloud all three days. Keep your plans flexible enough to deal with bad weather. I found the roads to be very easy, even driving on the wrong side. I would spend more time in Queenstown, less in Wanaka, Franz Joseph and Arthurís Pass. Add in a trip to Akaroa.
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Old Jan 13, 20, 11:58 am
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Google "Castle Hill" and "Punakaiki Rocks" for a couple of popular attractions not far off your planned route and you can decide whether or not they're of interest.

Roads are narrow with a lot of corners and limited passing opportunities. Please don't speed up on the straights if there's a queue behind you like a lot of rental vehicles seem to do
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Old Jan 13, 20, 12:48 pm
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Originally Posted by sleepy3192 View Post
Thanks for your response! I'm going from 4/18-5/3. I'll be arriving at 8:25am in NZ. So I don't think it will be an issue for me driving right after. Rain is fine, I'm more concerned about wild animals popping out. I'll mostly be driving in the day so I'm not as concerned. Is there a particular day(s) you're concerned about doing too much?
Dates are OK. After Easter and still reasonable weather. You do not say where you are flying in from (time zone change), but for an 08:25 must be an early start. Be careful with driving.

Little risk of wild animals on the roads. Will be (introduced) deer in places, but they well keep away from cars/people. Can be farmers sheep and cattle on some roads when being herded from 1 paddock to another.

For the December West Coast road link in post 4 heavy rain washed out the road and bridges. About 80 rental cars were abandoned when the people were taken out by helicopter and/or large heavy 4WD vehicles. Took a week or so to get the road open again.

Originally Posted by JamesBigglesworth View Post
<snip>
I'd plan a bit more loosely if I were you. Have a list of things you want to do and the rough order of doing them, and then just see how many you get through, bearing in mind need to book for some, etc.
Most definitely
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Old Jan 13, 20, 9:58 pm
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Originally Posted by JamesBigglesworth View Post
I'd suggest Geraldine rather than Tekapo. It's a closer drive, which allows for delays and some getting used to NZ roads. Take the inland route, not the coastal route. It's a fabulous drive. Geraldine is close enough to Tekapo to not interfere with your plans otherwise, but less than half the cost and an interesting little place all of it's own. Shunt all the Tekapo stuff into day 2 - most of Tekapo is a tourist wasteland IMO, so I'd just get on with the Mt Cook stuff.

4 hikes in 5 days is.... rather ambitious. NZ hikes can be quite full on. They're not the average US-style countryside stroll that get called "hikes".




The glacier is in thermal collapse. Don't expect it to be anything worth paying money to do/see.


I'd plan a bit more loosely if I were you. Have a list of things you want to do and the rough order of doing them, and then just see how many you get through, bearing in mind need to book for some, etc.

Alternate opinion here on Tekapo. we did Mt John night and then day.. and really enjoyed it. The night activity doesnt start until midnight and goes until 2 am so we were much happier staying in Tekapo and not driving anywhere at that time of night. It is a bit more expensive but the tradeoff is time and sleep. It was interesting to see the area in the daytime, after you have gone up the hill at night and you really dont know what it looks like. Agree that the other attractions in town dont merit much time and will be filled with tourists - it will be hard to take a picture. Also agree on the rain will happen. We drove from Tekapo to Mt Cook planning to do a short hike and it started to rain mid way on the road in to Mt Cook - and there is only one way in and one way back, and we ended up driving in and out without getting out of the car. I will be a broken record but the driving and the distances will be longer than you think - its not just 2 lane roads, its one lane bridges, and many roads are not straight for more than 10 minutes or so. You wont see everything no matter how much time you have, so pick a few things, and enjoy instead of trying to pack it all in.
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Old Jan 14, 20, 8:33 pm
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Originally Posted by JamesBigglesworth View Post
I'd suggest Geraldine rather than Tekapo. It's a closer drive, which allows for delays and some getting used to NZ roads. Take the inland route, not the coastal route. It's a fabulous drive. Geraldine is close enough to Tekapo to not interfere with your plans otherwise, but less than half the cost and an interesting little place all of it's own. Shunt all the Tekapo stuff into day 2 - most of Tekapo is a tourist wasteland IMO, so I'd just get on with the Mt Cook stuff.

4 hikes in 5 days is.... rather ambitious. NZ hikes can be quite full on. They're not the average US-style countryside stroll that get called "hikes".




The glacier is in thermal collapse. Don't expect it to be anything worth paying money to do/see.


I'd plan a bit more loosely if I were you. Have a list of things you want to do and the rough order of doing them, and then just see how many you get through, bearing in mind need to book for some, etc.
Thanks for the recommendation! I'll look into Geraldine instead of Tekapo. As for the hikes, I'm well aware these aren't a walk in the stroll type of hikes. But I'm not the type of person that will just chill and do nothing. If it means going slower to avoid getting injured, that is fine with me. I've hiked 20+ miles in a day before as mentioned and had to drive 3-4 hrs the same day. So I think I'll be good. I am writing stuff on a day by day basis because I don't want to forget. I'll definitely be picking and choosing which ones to do if lets say weather does not cooperate.

As for the Glacier, did you go there yourself and experience the hike? Are you saying it is not worth it from your own experience?

Originally Posted by Hornetcoach View Post
Spend day 1 in Christchurch. Jet lag is brutal when you fly to Australia or New Zealand, it will affect you for days. Donít get off the plane and take a long drive. NZ is wet. I spent three days at the glaciers, rained all 3 days and 3 days at Mount Cook, socked in with cloud all three days. Keep your plans flexible enough to deal with bad weather. I found the roads to be very easy, even driving on the wrong side. I would spend more time in Queenstown, less in Wanaka, Franz Joseph and Arthurís Pass. Add in a trip to Akaroa.
I appreciate the concern, but I have done research on Christchurch and I feel it isn't worth staying an entire day for it. I'll have a 15+ hr flight so I have time to sleep. I normally don't drive in the side NZ does, but I'm sure I'll be fine. I'll be using navigation so I'm sure it won't let me turn the wrong direction

Originally Posted by ps107 View Post
Google "Castle Hill" and "Punakaiki Rocks" for a couple of popular attractions not far off your planned route and you can decide whether or not they're of interest.

Roads are narrow with a lot of corners and limited passing opportunities. Please don't speed up on the straights if there's a queue behind you like a lot of rental vehicles seem to do
Thanks for the recommendation! Will look into it!

Originally Posted by Mwenenzi View Post
Dates are OK. After Easter and still reasonable weather. You do not say where you are flying in from (time zone change), but for an 08:25 must be an early start. Be careful with driving.

Little risk of wild animals on the roads. Will be (introduced) deer in places, but they well keep away from cars/people. Can be farmers sheep and cattle on some roads when being herded from 1 paddock to another.

For the December West Coast road link in post 4 heavy rain washed out the road and bridges. About 80 rental cars were abandoned when the people were taken out by helicopter and/or large heavy 4WD vehicles. Took a week or so to get the road open again.


Most definitely
Yeah I'm only afraid of animals popping out of nowhere. Like in Norway. I think I'll be fine driving in NZ. I had to drive in hail, snow, and strong winds in Norway along with the narrow roads happening all at once. From looking online, NZ doesn't have this issue.

Seems like the December West Coast was really a one off exception no? But regardless, if it does rain to that degree, I'll have to adjust my itinerary. Which will suck, but the chances I would think of the weather not cooperating to that degree would be slim...

Originally Posted by worldiswide View Post
Alternate opinion here on Tekapo. we did Mt John night and then day.. and really enjoyed it. The night activity doesnt start until midnight and goes until 2 am so we were much happier staying in Tekapo and not driving anywhere at that time of night. It is a bit more expensive but the tradeoff is time and sleep. It was interesting to see the area in the daytime, after you have gone up the hill at night and you really dont know what it looks like. Agree that the other attractions in town dont merit much time and will be filled with tourists - it will be hard to take a picture. Also agree on the rain will happen. We drove from Tekapo to Mt Cook planning to do a short hike and it started to rain mid way on the road in to Mt Cook - and there is only one way in and one way back, and we ended up driving in and out without getting out of the car. I will be a broken record but the driving and the distances will be longer than you think - its not just 2 lane roads, its one lane bridges, and many roads are not straight for more than 10 minutes or so. You wont see everything no matter how much time you have, so pick a few things, and enjoy instead of trying to pack it all in.
Thanks for the advice. I think my drive days I am not doing much. So I have given myself time to factor the long drive in.
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Old Jan 14, 20, 8:49 pm
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Originally Posted by sleepy3192 View Post
..I appreciate the concern, but I have done research on Christchurch and I feel it isn't worth staying an entire day for it. I'll have a 15+ hr flight so I have time to sleep. I normally don't drive in the side NZ does, but I'm sure I'll be fine. I'll be using navigation so I'm sure it won't let me turn the wrong direction
I would be extremely cautious above about driving after a 15+ hr flight with a time zone change and right hand drive (vs left hand drive)
A few years ago a German tourist to CHC died on the first day after arriving in a motor bike accident.
https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/100...of-new-zealand

Be careful with Sat Nav in NZ. It can take you down a rough 4WD goat track if you do not look at a real map. Do not put 100% of trust in Sat Nav
Sample: Driver takes a long and winding road | Stuff.co.nz
A Nelson-bound motorist had his first overnight camping experience - an unplanned trip to the snow - after taking a wrong high-country turn by following GPS instructions.
<snip>
Mr Savage said it was not the first time a driver had trusted their GPS and driven through the high country road from Hanmer. It happened because people selected the shortest route by distance and not by time, but there were early clues when driving across outback terrain it was not a state highway.
Originally Posted by sleepy3192 View Post
Seems like the December West Coast was really a one off exception no? But regardless, if it does rain to that degree, I'll have to adjust my itinerary. Which will suck, but the chances I would think of the weather not cooperating to that degree would be slim....
Nope. Roads being washed out happens several times a year on the Coast. Another washout earlier in the year was more dramatic.

To me you are trying to do to much way too fast. Do not take risks
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Old Jan 14, 20, 9:13 pm
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Originally Posted by Mwenenzi View Post
I would be extremely cautious above about driving after a 15+ hr flight with a time zone change and right hand drive (vs left hand drive)
A few years ago a German tourist to CHC died on the first day after arriving in a motor bike accident.
https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/100...of-new-zealand

Be careful with Sat Nav in NZ. It can take you down a rough 4WD goat track if you do not look at a real map. Do not put 100% of trust in Sat Nav
Sample: Driver takes a long and winding road | Stuff.co.nz



Nope. Roads being washed out happens several times a year on the Coast. Another washout earlier in the year was more dramatic.

To me you are trying to do to much way too fast. Do not take risks
I appreciate your concern. I've traveled to Iceland and Norway which I would argue have worse weather than NZ. I'm honestly not as worried about the drive. If anything, I'm more worried about the weather possibly preventing me from doing stuff I have planned. This NZ itinerary is similar to what I have done before. So I'm not as worried doing too much. I'd rather have things to do then just "chill" and drink coffee in the middle of nowhere. If I really wanted to chill/relax, I'll stay home instead of going to another country.

Also, people have written itineraries like this online. I don't think what I'm doing is "out of the norm". As always, everyone has different ways of traveling
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Old Jan 14, 20, 9:18 pm
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nature tour?

I don't see Milford Sound on your itin. It is nature on steroids.
What about Dunedlin? Penguins?
I don't get the AirBnB stays? My PF Kiwi stays were in shelters and huts run by the gov't:
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/14/t...rail-huts.html
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Old Jan 14, 20, 9:21 pm
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Originally Posted by Antonio8069 View Post
I don't see Milford Sound on your itin. It is nature on steroids.
What about Dunedlin? Penguins?
I don't get the AirBnB stays? My PF Kiwi stays were in shelters and huts run by the gov't:
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/14/t...rail-huts.html
Its on day 9. I've never stayed in a hutt before. But I do know it requires needing to bring additional food and equipment which I'm not really a fan of. So I'd rather do a day hike and go back the same day instead.
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