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South Island itinerary help

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific South Island itinerary help

1. Posted by dvdedsky (Budding Member 9 posts) 11y

Going to be flying into Nelson beginning of May and spending about a week. Is driving from Nelson along the West Coast then to Christchurch a realistic itinerary for this amount of time? Any recommendations???
thanks.

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4834 posts) 11y

In pure driving time, you should be able to do that in two days. Nelson -> Greymouth is about seven hours (I did Picton to Greymouth myself, just two weeks ago), and Greymouth to Christchurch should be something like five hours, maybe even less (though there might be risk of this pass being closed? I don't know, really).

Places worth visiting on that route are the Nelson Lakes area (looked like awesome nature from driving through it twice - it's definitely on the itinerary to explore more thoroughly next time), the Punakaiki blowholes at high tide (the Tasman Sea is unbelievably violent there), the Point Elizabeth Walkway just north of Greymouth, and the entire Arthur's Pass area.
I'd give Abel Tasman National Park a miss, but maybe that's just because I really and utterly loathe sandflies, and had seen plenty of bush already by the time I tramped through there.

You might also want to drive south of Greymouth for three or four more hours to the glaciers and spend a day there, or three and a half hours southwest from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo for some glorious tranquility and views of eternity over the Southern Alps - perhaps even spending two days there, with an hour's drive to Mt. Cook and walking around there thrown in on the second day. Lots of options to add "little" sidetrips like that, depending on what kind of things you prefer to see and do. I'd definitely try to go as far south as possible - especially if the weather is good - as the views on the Southern Alps are mindbogglingly good in that time of year. Fresh snow all around, if you're lucky.

Technically you could even drive all the way south via Queenstown, and then north from there to Christchurch in a week, but I wouldn't recommend that unless you know exactly what you want to see and do. (This is roughly what I did, but I'd explored for months during an earlier visit.)

3. Posted by dvdedsky (Budding Member 9 posts) 11y

Thank you for your tips! They have been vey helpful!!!

4. Posted by roboshute (Budding Member 4 posts) 11y

The west coast on the whole is pretty rugged. The wheather is often not at its peak. (Grey)mouth may have been named that way for a reason? But there are loads of things to do on the west coast. try black water caving, we did it about 3 years ago. Fantastic. Goes from town and back. we never did the tasmin glacier because it was raining Cats and dogs. our friends have done it and they siad it is only worth it if its sunny. theres also a place called Gillespies beach aboat 10kms from town (tasmin), were there is a free camping area at the beach. The pass from west to east is sometimes closed in mid winter due to snow? worth checking ahead. the able tasmin and nelson lakes nation parks are incredible. If you have time for hiking they are my must do's. Able Tasmin is a 2-6day hike depending on your itinerary. the Nelson lakes are more like 5-12 days.
Driving is usually quiet on the mountian roads with little other trffic around until U get nearer to towns etc...

Have fun and take care what ever you do.