1. Posted by -v- (Budding Member 2 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Hello people...

I'm going to South Island for a 13-day self drive holiday in Feb.
I'm in researching mode now.. and would appreciate if I can get advice from you guys who know NZ inside and outside

I've tried to make a draft itinerary as per below:

DAY 1: Arrive at Christchurch
DAY 2: Dunedin
DAY 3: Te Anau
DAY 4: Te Anau/Milford Sound
DAY 5: Queenstown
DAY 6: Queenstown
DAY 7: Queenstown
DAY 8: Wanaka
DAY 9: Franz Josef/Grey Mouth
DAY 10: Nelson
DAY 11: Kaikoura & Hanmer Springs
DAY 12: Back to Christchurch
DAY 13: Christchurch - Sydney

Need your advice/comment on above as this is my first time to NZ..
Did I miss any "must go" places?

I have some other questions as well..

1. Is it better to travel with the above direction or the other way around (Christchurch - Kaikoura - Nelson .... - Dunedin - Christchurch)?

2. Is it worthwhile to hop on the TranzAlpine train as it is quite expensive...?

3. Is it easy to find restaurant/food along the highways?
Seems like the journey between one area to other ares normally take hours.. so i'm a little concerned ...

Thanks heaps!!!

2. Posted by Reece Sanford (Travel Guru 1369 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Ive just spent a month in the South Island and saw pretty much most of what it had to offer and i would of been happy to extend my time there to at least another 2 weeks.
After driving around America before i found the distances and size very small although as you only have 13 days i would seriously think about what you really want to see and actually spent time there rather than driving there a quick look round and then think about the next destination.
For instance the drive from Franz Josef to Nelson is a fair trek and by the time you get there you wont have time to look around.
Apart from Queenstown where you have 3 days you wont have time to settle down anywhere and although its nice and picturesque there theres not to much to do except bungy jump or go hiking.
Check the details of my blog for photos and how long i spent in places if you want and enjoy New Zealand its a fantastic country.

3. Posted by ernie (Full Member 33 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

id agree with reece on the queenstown part and maybe save another day for nelson(i much preffered nelson)or the hephy/kiteriteri/abel tasman(┬┐sp?)area.

4. Posted by Reece Sanford (Travel Guru 1369 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Spot on Ernie with the Abel Tasman idea.
I walked the track over 3 and a half days and it was awesome.

5. Posted by Jase007 (Respected Member 8870 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Great time of year to head there.
I agree the Able Tas is a fantastic trek.
Q'town is very commercial (expensive)but does cater for most things.
I'd recommend going to Te Anau via the Catlans - lots to fantastic scenery.

6. Posted by Philymop (Full Member 110 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

I'd take some time out of QTown and see somewhere else. Ie from Wanaka to Franz was about 3 hours, and another 3hours to Greymouth (at least) so with this itinery you really aren't going to see much of anything. All of the areas you are visiting are fantastic so I can't suggest cutting any out really, although QTown and Wanaka are pretty similar, save for the odd bungee jump here and there.

In my opninion Hanmer Springs is a bit of a let down, very commercialised and busy, all man made, not the thermal spa I imagined. I would suggest you miss Hanmer and substitute it with a day in Blenheim, which is the wine region, here you can hire a bike and cycle round the vinyards tasting hte wine. Great fun!

Dunedin and Nelson are beautiful cities, but they are just cities, so if there isn't anything particular you want to see there, I would just pass on through or maybe try to get to Mt Cook to do some walks?

I drove around South Island in 3 weeks and saw all the places you mentioned, and still felt rushed, so if you want to go around so you know what you want to go back to at a later date, then your plan is good, but if this is likely to be your only visit here, then probably go for quality over quantity and you won't be left tired and frustrated at all the places you zoom through! Sth Isl. is stunning and you won't get the best of it from behind the wheel.

Have fun!

7. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5469 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

[quote=Philymop]In my opninion Hanmer Springs is a bit of a let down, very commercialised and busy, all man made, not the thermal spa I imagined.[/quyote]I have no opinion on the springs, as I completely skipped those, but there's absolutely awesome hiking in Hanmer Springs. Get the $1 booklet at the visitor information center that lists them all, and see how they all connect and you could walk for two days straight just stringing them after each other.
Especially the view from on top of Mt. Isobel is gorgeous, but shorter walks such as to the dog stream waterfall are quite worth doing as well.

Looking at the original itinerary, I'd skip Dunedin and Te Anau, and instead go via Lake Tekapo and Mt. Cook (stop for a day at each), doing Milford Sound via a bus daytrip from Queenstown.
Also, you won't get to see much of the glaciers on this schedule; I'd end day 9 at the glaciers, explore those, skip Nelson, and drive to Hanmer via Lewis Pass on day 10, moving on to Kaikoura on day 11.

1: arrive at and explore Christchurch
2: travel to and explore Lake Tekapo (~3 hour drive)
3: travel to and explore Mt. Cook (~1 hour drive)
4: travel to and explore Queenstown (~3 hour drive)
5: Milford Sound in a day (staying at Queenstown)
6: explore Queenstown
7: explore Queenstown
8: travel to and explore Wanaka (~1 hour drive)
9: travel to and explore Franz Josef (~5 hour drive)
10: travel to and explore Hanmer Springs (~5 hour drive)
11: travel to and explore Kaikoura (~2 hour drive)
12: travel to and explore Christchurch (~3 hour drive)
13: fly to Sydney