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18 days South Island Itinerary- are we doing too much!

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north yorkshire, uk
posts: 19
reviews: 12
18 days South Island Itinerary- are we doing too much!

After wanting to visit New Zealand for years we've finally booked the flights and car hire and will arrive at the end of February.We have ideas of the places we want to visit but not sure how to plan it to be able to include it all. We definitely want to visit Milford Sound and Abel Tasman This is the rough itinerary we have come up with any suggestions welcome. We are planning on walking and kayaking in as many places as possible.

Day 1 - arrive Christchurch late afternoon from the UK

Day 2 - explore Christchurch on foot and maybe cycle tour and Gondola ride. Picking hire car up late afternoon ready to set off early next morning.

Day 3 - Drive Christchurch to Twizel stopping at Lake Tekapo enroute.

Day 4 - Twizel to Mt Cook, walk part of Hooker Valley track and kayak on glacial lake. Stay overnight

Day 5 - Mt Cook to Queenstown

Day 6 - Queenstown

Day 7 - Queenstown to Te Anau

Day 8 - Milford Sound kayaking with transport provided to and from Te Anau.

Day 9- Te-Anau to Wanaka

Day 10- Wanaka to Franz Josef

Day 11 Glacier walk

Day 12 Kayak at Franz Josef then drive to Hokitika

Day 13 Hokitika to Abel Tasman -not sure whether to go via Arthurs Pass or up west coast.

Day 14 Abel Tasman walk / kayak

Day 15- Abel Tasman

Day 16 Abel Tasman to Hanmer Springs

Day 17

Day 18 Hanmer Springs to airport fly from Christchurch at 16.55

We have one day spare to slot in, any suggestions welcome as to where we should spend an extra night in the itinerary. Look forward to any advice offered.

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for Zhuhai, Macau
posts: 19,021
reviews: 171
11. Re: 18 days South Island Itinerary- are we doing too much!

The West Coast may not appeal to every one but to describe it as "barren" is a bit strange for this stunningly beautiful stretch of rainforest. SH6 is rated as one of most scenic drives in the world for good reason.

Nelson, New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
posts: 20,549
reviews: 48
12. Re: 18 days South Island Itinerary- are we doing too much!

The West Coast is barren? I don't think so.

Most locals and visitors agree the drive Chch to Oamaru is about the least scenic in the country while the drive down the West Coast is considered by many to one of the most scenic drives on the planet - so much so that UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site …govt.nz/about-doc/…

posts: 45
reviews: 17
13. Re: 18 days South Island Itinerary- are we doing too much!


you are absolutely correct. Punakaika is interesting and scenic.

However, not impressed with greymouth. The sewerage runs through the river to the sea... westport and even franz josef are overrated, may be a better view from the sky. Nelson was the only spot i could recommend west side up north.

posts: 2,413
reviews: 56
14. Re: 18 days South Island Itinerary- are we doing too much!

Greymouth wouldn't be a high point, no. The issue to me is that that after the stretch from slightly above Punakaiki to just above Greymouth, from Greymouth south, the highway goes inland a bit and you don't see much of the coast. Both Fox and Franz villages are away from the ocean as well. The highway between Punakaiki to Greymouth is right on the coast and is stunning. But it whizzes by pretty quickly unless you find one of the few pullouts to enjoy it. If you find a pullout that's close enough (as in not on a high cliff), you can scramble down at low tide and really enjoy the cliffs, rocks, and beach. We probably took a full gig of pictures on the beach there.

We stayed at Fox and had a clear enough day to see all of Mount Tasman, and all but the very top of Mount Cook. The walk around Lake Matheson in the stillness of the morning was so peaceful and beautiful. The glacier, eh, interesting.... but I wouldn't consider it beautiful or stunning.

But as it fits into the OP's itinerary, it should be kept. They are already coming down the inland route via Mount Cook. The night of day 12 would be better spent at Punakaiki than Hokitika though. Unless they are really into jade.

north yorkshire, uk
posts: 19
reviews: 12
15. Re: 18 days South Island Itinerary- are we doing too much!

Many thanks for all of the advice given, we've made some alterations and are now booked to stay 2 nights at Mount Cook instead of staying at Twizel as suggested. We've also added in an extra night at Wanaka. Although we aim to stick with our revised itinerary our plans after Queenstown are flexible enough to allow us to make the most of the Fiordland area.

16. Re: 18 days South Island Itinerary- are we doing too much!

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