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NZ in 8 days - where should we go?

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific NZ in 8 days - where should we go?

1. Posted by tootajode (First Time Poster 1 posts) 8y

Hi. My husband and I and two friends are planning a trip to NZ in Jan 09. We only have 8 days over there as we all have small children we will be leaving behind, therefore the short trip. My husband wants to do both islands. Is this possible. I have a fair idea of what to see but I am really looking for what not to see in such a limited time. We will be driving ourselves so don't want to drive for 4 hours to see something that isn't that specatular in such limited time. Perhaps some suggestions of where to spend the most time and whether to fly across the straight or barge it. We are all from rural backgrounds so not particularly interested in the sheep side of things, more of the sightseeing/adventure side. Any comments are greatly appreciated! Thanks.

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4892 posts) 8y

Hmm, difficult. For 8 days, I usually recommend the following loop (all links go to photos of those places to illustrate).

day 1: Arrive in and see Christchurch.
day 2: Christchurch to Lake Tekapo. Climb Mt John to watch the Southern Alps. Have the best pizza anywhere at Pepe's.
day 3: Lake Tekapo to Queenstown, with an extended stop at Mt. Cook (maybe go for a short hike, and have lunch at the balcony of the Hermitage) if and only if the sky is clear (otherwise just drive on).
day 4: See Queenstown. Laze about, and/or go bungy jumping at the Kawarau bridge.
day 5: Milford Sound daytrip. (Take a bus; it's way too long a day to drive yourself, and you'd only be stuck behind the buses anyway.)
day 6: Queenstown to Franz Josef glacier. (Stop at Fox glacier en route.)
day 7: See Franz Josef glacier. (Make sure to walk the Roberts Point track, or at the very least stop to gaze at Peter's Pool.)
day 8: Franz Josef glacier to Christchurch via Arthur's Pass. Fly out in the evening / the following morning. (If you have to leave early on day 8 itself, then skip the Mt. Cook stop on day 3, and compress day 4 into the afternoon of day 3.)

As you can see, this is just doable in that time period without making you feel you did nothing but rush from place to place.
However, even though Queenstown is good for adventure sports, but there's not much "sightseeing" along the rest of the route (at least under my definition of sightseeing) - just gorgeous unending landscapes to boggle your mind as you drive and walk through them.

The only way I could see both islands happening would be to limit yourself mostly to the cities. You might do:
day 1: Arrive in and see Auckland.
day 2: See Auckland.
day 3: Fly from Auckland to Christchurch early in the morning. See Christchurch.
day 4: Christchurch to Lake Tekapo.
day 5: Lake Tekapo to Queenstown.
day 6: See Queenstown.
day 7: Milford Sound daytrip.
day 8: Fly back to Auckland and out of the country.


day 1: Arrive in and see Auckland.
day 2: Fly from Auckland to Christchurch early in the morning. See Christchurch.
day 3: Christchurch to Franz Josef glacier.
day 4: See Franz Josef glacier.
day 5: Franz Josef glacier to Queenstown.
day 6: See Queenstown.
day 7: Milford Sound daytrip.
day 8: Fly back to Auckland and out of the country.

There's a lot of interesting places to see around Auckland - but all would need two days to actually get there, see them, and get back, and that's just not worth the time. And Auckland itself... well, in the end, it's just a city. A very nice city to be sure, with lots to see and do - but it really doesn't offer much that's unique to New Zealand, and I wouldn't recommend it over either Lake Tekapo or the glaciers..

[ Edit: Edited on Feb 10, 2008, at 6:51 AM by Sander ]

3. Posted by magdabis (Full Member 26 posts) 8y

We had 6 days in NZ last November and we only managed to do half of the South Island and we were rushing it. We spent about 5-6 each day driving. We are going back to NZ for longer at the end of this year.
We started in Christchurch and than went to Mt Cook National Park, then Te Anau and Milford Sound, Queenstown, West Coast (including climbing Franz Joseph glacier) and back to Christchurch.
If you try to fit both islands into 8 days you'll spend most of the time driving or flying from place to place. I think you should stick to one island...

[ Edit: Edited on Feb 10, 2008, at 3:46 PM by magdabis ]

4. Posted by stevieh (Respected Member 613 posts) 8y

I'd agree - stick to one island. You haven't a hope of seeing the best of both in such a short time.
The south is traditionally the most spectacular, but if you're from Europe (I can't work out your nationality) it might be a little familiar, especially if you live in a rural place anyway.

The North island has much to recommend it - a far bigger Maori community for one, which is one good reason for visiting NZ. Our guided tour around the Waitangi Treaty grounds still puts the hairs on the back of my neck on end.
Tongariro National park is spectacular, volcanic and unlike anything you will see in Europe. Rotorua and that region's geothermal parks are another completely different experience.

Whatever - hire a motorhome so you can just drive, pull up and stop whenever you feel, without having a schedule to stick to. That way you'll see more and enjoy the driving - which is part and parcel of the New Zealand experience.