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New Zealand, South Island - 12 days

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific New Zealand, South Island - 12 days

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1. Posted by daphnemaia (Full Member 155 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

Hi everyone! My fiance and I are going to NZ for our honeymoon in March, for 12 full days (excluding travel dates). We're from Singapore, and it's going to be our first time in NZ.

We're not the luxury sort of travellers, so just to get that straight. No need for 5 star hotels and that sort of thing.

Okay, so. We're flying into Christchurch and departing from Christchurch too.

Could you guys advise us on how many days to spend at each place? We're not planning to head to Wellington or the northern parts. Just wanna stay at South Island.

We've been given varying types of advice. Some told us to get a motorhome to drive around, some told us to get a sedan car and just drive around from point to point. Others advised us to take the train or bus from one point to another. What do you all think? We don't mind driving but what kind of budget should we have if we drive, including fuel and all? How does this compare with buses/coaches?

Any recommended guest houses, B&Bs to stay at in different parts of South Island?

Prepaid SIM with Data
This is very very important to us. I saw Telecom NZ prepaid rates and I'm aghast. That's so expensive! $1 per day for only 10MB? :( That kind of really sucks. Anyway, if we really have no choice, we'll go for it. But what is the best telco coverage if we're travelling around the S.Island?

Any other kind of advice will be much appreciated. :) Just hit us with whatever info you have, any good links/resources, etc. We also love trying out food places, so if you know of any great restaurants, leave us a link/name here too.

Much appreciated! Thank you!

2. Posted by Cyberia (Travel Guru 1839 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

I've been a number of times in January and February and driven around both islands and never had any trouble with getting a guest house or B&B accommodation, often by finding them while driving around. If you go by public transport you will have to pay inner city prices for accommodation which is much more.

It is often best to book your car before arrival, and cheaper to drop it off the same place you picked it up (dropping it off elsewhere is expensive).

The east side of the south Island is fairly built up while the west side has all the scenery, glaciers, etc.

Fish and chips is a bit of a local dish in NZ. Do try it while there.

3. Posted by daphnemaia (Full Member 155 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

thanks for the tip about the car booking and about B&B accommodation. :) i guess we might just take the risk and walk in to any B&B wherever we decide to stop! am a bit worried though, because that would mean i can't research it beforehand and see what other travellers say about the place - my biggest nightmare consists of dirty toilets and bed bugs. LOL.

4. Posted by ashnz (Budding Member 17 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!


Make sure you book if you are going in school holidays.

Try go to a restaurant called Fleurs in Moeraki (near Dunedin).

The westcoast is beautiful (Hokitika, westport etc) also Nelson, Dunedin, Wanaka, Queenstown Arrowtown. It just depends how much travel you want to do.

Post 5 was removed by a moderator
6. Posted by daphnemaia (Full Member 155 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

Hi Ashnz, Is March 8-23 during the school holidays? Not sure when the school holidays in NZ are!

thanks for the tip on the places to see... i think i'll take note of those places and mark them on the map we have! :) will see how we want to plan the route.

7. Posted by TravellingGuy (Budding Member 8 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

Hi Daphnemaia,

We did a twelve day tour of the South Island in January 2010 and visited the must see places: Punakaiki, the glaciers, Queenstown, Wanaka, Milford Sound, Mount Cook. We travelled in our own car which of course gives you a lot more freedom than taking buses.

8-23 March shouldn't be during the school holidays (they start on 5 April).

Some accomodation I can recommend: we stayed at Clearwater B&B near Fox Glacier. It's about 3 km from the centre of town on a working farm. It's a clean place and the people are very friendly. Another place is Pukaki Lakeside Getaway, about 40 minutes before Mount Cook. It's a bit more expensive but definitely worth it. The view over the lake is awesome. If you want contact info of both places I can send you a message, just let me know.

The drive between Haast and Wanaka is very scenic. You first drive alongside Lake Wanaka and then on the other side appears Lake Hawea.

Hope this helps a bit.

Cheers - Guy

8. Posted by daphnemaia (Full Member 155 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

wow, it's been a while since i logged in. really busy with all the wedding preps. thank goodness the honeymoon is not till march next year.

thanks GUY for your advice. i'll definitely follow it when we fly to NZ! :) CAN'T WAIT! :)

9. Posted by Kiwigail (Budding Member 18 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!


Transport - you can get bus passes where you hop on and off.They would work out to be quite reasonable cost wise.But probably not give you as much flexibility....and with only 12 days probably not the best solution.

A campervan is not cheap but would mean you had your accommodation, and cooking facilities. If you want to use free camping areas you must have a fully self contained van.Otherwise you would be up for camping ground fees as well.You would probably want to use camping grounds sometimes.

Otherwise a rental car would give you flexibility and you could stay in a range of motels, B&B's backpackers, cabins etc

March is not school holidays.

At the moment fuel is about $2.10 a litre. This goes up and occasionally down frequently!

12 days is not all that long so you will need to plan your travel itinerary well. I would suggest going to Queenstown via Mt Cook, Wanaka, day trip to Milford Sound then across to the West Coast and the Glaciers - then up the West Coast and either back to Christchurch via Arthurs Pass or if you have time via Nelson.

Have a look at -snip- You will want to allow time for all the many activities. Also allow plenty of time for driving as our roads are not motorways.They are generally one lane and can be windy and steep in places.

Have a lovely honeymoon!

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10. Posted by daphnemaia (Full Member 155 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Hi kiwigail!

Thanks so much for your message!

We've explored things like kiwiexperience (one of the hop-on-and-off bus companies that you mentioned) and it works out to be something like NZD 599 per person just for the bus pass, for the min 10 day tour. Doesn't sound too fun to us. They say they have discounts for accommodation but those are mainly youth hostels and backpackers' inns. We're thinking that we should at least stay at a B&B or someplace with more privacy since we're on our honeymoon!

So I think we've more or less decided on driving ourselves around. We have changed our trip dates, so it'll be from 9 Mar (landing at noon-ish) to 23 Mar (we leave early morn on 24th) - which means we have about 14.5 days to do stuff. YAY! Probably gonna take it easy and drive around, and spend an extra night at certain places that people have recommended, like Queenstown, Franz Josef, etc.

I found this recommended driving route for 12 days.

Is it too ambitious to try to complete this in 14 days? Any places that you guys think we should/can skip if we're pressed for time? :P

Or should we go for this recommended driving route for 9 days, and just stay extra days at places we like?

Also, I need some recommendations for car rentals. We checked out ExploreMore, prices look really cheap but not sure if the cars are reliable! Any others to recommend?

We just want a small car. I thought of getting a 1.3L car, and I think that shouldn't be too much of a problem since the driving route says that it's all state highways or motorways? Am I right to assume this?

Also, I think we've decided not to book any accommodation and just go ahead with the recommendations of just stopping at any town and checking into any hotel or B&B that we see along the way. That way we don't have a fixed schedule to stick to, and it's a lot more flexibility!

Any other tips or advice that you guys might have? We're happy to listen to those who know the place better or have been there! :)


[ Edit: Edited on 30-Nov-2011, at 21:42 by daphnemaia ]