I am studying abroad in Melbourne for the semsester and I'm planing to spend about a week in NZ. I've heard that it would probably be best to try to just pick a couple of areas to go to rather than try fit in alot since its not much time. I'm flying into christchurch. Any suggestions as to must sees or must does while I'm there?
You can do a very basic loop from Christchurch in a week that will still cover a lot of the highlights. Something like:
day 1: arrive Christchurch, explore.
day 2: travel to Franz Josef Glacier (~6 hours by car, 10 by train (TranzAlpine) + bus).
day 3: explore Franz Josef Glacier (helicopter flight, glacier hike, or just walk up to it (make sure not to miss Peter's Pool and Robert's Point track), depending on your budget).
day 4: travel to Queenstown (~5 hours by car, 8 by bus).
day 5: explore Queenstown (go bungy jumping if that's your thing).
day 6: travel to Lake Tekapo (~3 hours by car, 4 by bus (or 6 with lunch at the Hermitage at Mt. Cook)), see Lake Tekapo (I highly recommend the 2.5 hour (easy walking) roundtrip to the top of Mt. John - truly awesome and gorgeous views from up there; or do a helicopter flight if you have the budget but the weather was bad at the glaciers).
day 7: travel to Christchurch (~3 hours by car, 4 by bus), depart.
If you have one extra day, I'd spend it on a (very long) daytrip to Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound from Queenstown out (even if you have a car, don't drive yourself, as you'd only be stuck behind the tourbuses anyway, and it's about 14 hours total to do this).
One more extra day might be nice to stop at Mt. Cook in addition to Lake Tekapo, or to take a daytrip up to Kaikoura from Christchurch and do whalewatching there (if it's a good time of the year for that).
(You can also do this itinerary the other way around, although with public transport you'd arrive really late in the day in Christchurch on the 7th day, as the train only goes that way in the afternoon.)
[ Edit: Edited on Mar 13, 2007, at 11:17 AM by Sander ]
Sander, excellent job with the itinery! Evan thats got everything you should do and its near perfect mate.. just a shame you dont have 2 weeks to slow down a wee bit and cover a few other areas! next time
I agree - great itinerary! But you'll definitely be rushed. I'd also recommend going North from Christchurch and taste the wine of the Marlborough region. Beautiful area and wonderful Pinot! I didn't make it to Nelson when I was in NZ, but I hear it's quite lovely as well, which is on the northern tip of the South Island.