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New Zealand, South Island - 12 days

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Post 11 was removed by a moderator
12. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4811 posts) 4y

Unless you happen to be particularly interested in sleepy semi-historical New Zealand towns, I wouldn't bother with either of those itineraries.
What I'd recommend in 14 days, sticking solely to the South Island, would be something like the following itinerary, which focuses much more on why you (presumably) came to the South Island in the first place: nature in all its stunning beauty:

Mar 9: Fly into Christchurch, explore Christchurch.
Mar 10: Pick up a rental car, drive to Lake Tekapo, climbing to the gorgeous golden flatlands of MacKenzie plain after Geraldine.
Mar 11: Spend a day hiking and relaxing at Lake Tekapo. Gaze out over the impossibly blue waters of Lake Tekapo, climb Mt. John for 360 degree views over MacKenzie plain and the Southern Alps, and reward yourself with some of the best hot chocolate ever at the Observatory cafe, right there at the top of the hill. (Or if the weather is good (not windy), enquire about a helicopter flight over the Southern Alps, complete with glacier landing.)
Mar 12: Drive one hour to Mt. Cook village. Have lunch on the balcony of the Hermitage, gazing out toward Mt. Cook (if you're lucky enough for it to not be covered by clouds). Then hike Hooker's Valley to suddenly come face to face with this mountain again, but now from much closer.
Mar 13: Drive to Queenstown via gorgeous Lindis Pass and the blue green waters of Kawarau Gorge. Stop at the world's first ever commercial bungy bridge.
Mar 14: Take a bus tour to Milford Sound (don't bother driving yourself, for it'll be an incredibly long day, and you'd only be stuck behind the tour busses anyway). (Alternatively, drive here in the afternoon, while all traffic heads the other way, and stay overnight on one of the two ships which head out once all the tourists have left. (Book well in advance, obviously!))
Mar 15: Wander around Queenstown. If you're up for more hiking, find the start of the one mile creek track, and follow the old waterpipe up the mountain for some amazing mossed over scenery.
Mar 16: Drive to Fox Glacier via Haast Pass; wander around at Fox Glacier, then drive the final 30 minutes to Franz Josef Glacier.
Mar 17: Hike the Roberts Point track through some of the most gorgeous green rainforest you'll ever encounter, ending with great views over the glacier, and be sure not to miss gazing into Peter's Pool at the very start of it. Or if you didn't get a chance to do the helicopter flight from Lake Tekapo, see about doing it from here.
Mar 18: Follow the wild west coast past Greymouth and Punakaiki (try to time being there for high tide, so you can see its blow holes perform) to end up near Nelson.
Mar 19: Spend a day either exploring Nelson Lakes National Park (for which you can have your previous day end at Saint Amaud), or Abel Tasman National Park (for which Motueka makes a good base of operations, as you can take the watertaxi from there).
Mar 20: Head to Picton early in the morning, and take the water taxi (have this arranged beforehand) to Mahana Homestead Lodge. Laze the day about on their verandah or in the hammock, gazing over tranquil Queen Charlotte Sound, or hike a part of the Queen Charlotte Track. Eat delicious homemade chocolate cake at night, and then go look at the glow worms behind the lodge.
Mar 21: Take the water taxi back to Picton, and drive on to Kaikoura.
Mar 22: Go on a whale watching trip at Kaikoura. In the afternoon, walk around the peninsula and try to not step on any of the fur seals lying hidden behind every rock.
Mar 23: Return to Christchurch, and explore some more here. Maybe go punting down the Avon river, or wander the Botanical Garden.
Mar 24: Fly out.

(FWIW, I've done all of these things myself, and am recommending them all from personal experience, with the exception of Nelson Lakes, which is on my list to do for the next time I'm coming through, as that area always looked amazing as I drove past. If you have questions about any of these places, I'd be more than willing to go in depth.)

[ Edit: Edited on 01-Dec-2011, at 11:08 by Sander ]

13. Posted by daphnemaia (Full Member 155 posts) 4y

wow, thanks so much, sander! this is fabulous. i'll plot this driving route out on a map and do more research! will definitely ping you again if i have questions!

14. Posted by splosker (Budding Member 2 posts) 4y

Daphnemaia
We were in nz for one month in September/October of which we spent 2 weeks in a campervan on south island. Everywhere is beautiful so I wouldn't worry too much about planning every last detail and don't be afraid to change your route when travelling as I can't recall encountering anywhere less than lovely. In the north island we followed the weather. Weather in nz is a bit unpredictable so if for example the weather on the west coast looks like being very bad but east coast good and there can be big variations between the coasts then don't be a slave to your itinerary if it means having to put up with rain.
One strong word of advice about Sanders itinerary DO NOT take the Roberts Point hike in franz josef unless you are pretty fit and prepared to spend one whole day climbing up tough mountain paths clambering over treacherously slippery boulders paddling through streams etc. In september the glacier was dirty from the view point and by march it will be worse. The view is not worth the climb and you can see Plenty of splendid temperate rain forest without busting a gut quite possibly spraining an ankle or worse and using one day out of your precious 14. If however you are an experienced hiker and love this kind of thing then you may love it. Frankly it is rather irresponsible of Sander to put it in a suggested itinerary without knowing your level of fitness or hiking experience.
I am sure you will have a great time nz is a wonderful country withthe nicest friendliest people. Driving is a pleasure the roads are very quiet and the scenery stunning. Have fun - Stephen

15. Posted by daphnemaia (Full Member 155 posts) 4y

Hi Stephen!

Thanks for your message! Yeah actually I think I will skip the hike cos it might be too cold and I'm certainly not used to hikes in cold weather, plus, we both have rather weak ankles (we both sprained them badly this year!) so would rather not take the risk!

Will take note of your advice about the weather and changing our itinerary whenever needed! :)

I'm really looking forward to a relaxing holiday rather than rushing from place to place, so we might actually cut out a couple of venues that don't seem too exciting to us.

Thanks again!

- Daphne

16. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4811 posts) 4y

Wow, I don't recognize that description of the Roberts Point track at all. Admittedly it's been 6+ years since I did it, but in my memory it was a very gentle (effectively flat) winding trail through the rainforest (like this all the way), going just a bit more uphill at the very end. (I think I might remember something about it going on beyond the viewpoint, for real hardcore hikers? Obviously you should never push on on a hike if it's too much for you.) Streams should definitely be much easier to cross in March (autumn) then in September (spring). And yeah, unfortunately glaciers in New Zealand are retreating, too, and so always look dirty.

Anyway, a suggested itinerary is always a "here's what I would do", with the full expectation that the recipient will mix-and-match to their own preferences.

17. Posted by daphnemaia (Full Member 155 posts) 4y

Yep, we're looking through the suggested itineraries and gonna do more research on each place to see if it is suitable for us! :) Thanks again for the super detailed itinerary you planned out for us Sander. That's really quite a lot, and we do appreciate your taking time to type all that out!

18. Posted by splosker (Budding Member 2 posts) 4y

Sander
Roberts Point hike initially shares the same gentle path you describe past Peters Pool but only begins proper when it reaches the first bridge which I suspect is as far you went. Roberts Point is way up the mountain and is over 12 kilometres to and from the car park. The walk I think you did is indeed is gentle and is through beautiful forest. But it's not the Robert Point hike. If you google it you will see what I mean.
I do agree that if in the area the walk past peters pool is definitely worth it
Best wishes
Stephen

19. Posted by daphnemaia (Full Member 155 posts) 4y

Does anyone use GPS in NZ? What's the best open source map?

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