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18 days Road Trip of South Island

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Chennai (Madras...
posts: 6
reviews: 22
18 days Road Trip of South Island

Hello,

We are a family of 6 including children planning a road trip of south island during May ( FIRST 3 WEEKS) next year. . We prefer to have a relaxed tour hence have planned longer stays at various points and also have not tried to cover every thing in South Island. We fly into Christ church and the following is a tentative schedule. Kindly advise if this is feasible and if any additions deletions need to be made.

Day 1 - Fly into Christchurch around Noon

Day 2 - Christchurch local tour

Day 3 – Hire car drive to Mount Cook Leave 9 AM Arrive Mt Cook by 2.30 PM Explore

Day 4 – Mount cook – Glacier boat ride, Short walk

Day 5 – Drive to Te Anau Leave by 8 AM reach by 3 Pm.

Day 6 – Explore Te Anau - Day walk, Glow worm caves

Day 7 - Milford tour by coach and back to Te Anau

Day 8 – Te Anau planning to have a farm stay. Spend this day in the farm

Day 9 - Drive to arrow town Explore, drive to queenstown reach by 3 PM

Day 10 – Queens town - Glenorchy day trip Shotoverjet or dart river??

Day 11 – Queenstown explore - gondola, lube, segway

Day 12 – Queenstown ?activity, ? just hang around relax

Day 13, Fly to nelson, pickup car drive to Marahau stay there

Day 14– Marahau - kayak, day walk Abel Tasman

Day 15 - Marahau - ? activity

Day 16 – Drive to Punakaiki Leave by 10 Am Reach by 3.00PM explore Stay

Day 17 - Drive to Christchurch via Greymouth , Arthur pass Reach by 4.00Pm

Day 18 - Kaikoura whale watch and return. Is it better to day tour by coach or self drive ? or

Day tour to Hanmer spring by coach or selfdrive? Return to Christchurch

Day 19 –Fly out of Christchurch

Some clarification needed are:

Is driving from Mount cook to Te anau feasible? There are two of us driving

Any other family friendly activities in Queenstown ?

Is a car required in Marahau? Can I take a coach from Nelson to Marahau considering we are spending most of time in Marahau? If a car is available any suggestions on where we can go as a day tour on day 15

Finally the last part - is kaikoura or Hanmer Springs better for a family especially with children? We have time only to do one. Also is a coach tour better or self drive - Was wondering if coach is easier as the last part of tour. Thank you in advance. Any suggestions are welcome

Thanks Trawelbug

21 replies to this topic
Wanaka, New Zealand
posts: 1,541
reviews: 12
1. Re: 18 days Road Trip of South Island

Kaikoura and Hanmer hve totally different activities - do you want to relax in hot pools or see whales/dolphins? Hanmer is also much closer to Chch if you are only doing it as a day trip.

The drive from Cook to Te Anau is possible. Will you take the time to stop for linch in Wanaka and then drive over the Crown Range to Queenstown and on to Te Anau?

The day where you drive from Te Anau to Arrowtown doesn't make so much sense. You drive through QT to get to Arrowtown. The two towns are only 20km apart. I would make your Arrowtown visit one of the days that you are based in Queenstown. Or are you returning the rental car and not having one in Queenstown?

I think that a car is always useful in NZ because it gives you so much more flexibility. It will also most likely be more cost effective since there are 6 of you and public transport isn't cheap.

A good start to your itinerary because you are taking it reasonably slowly.

California
posts: 1,687
reviews: 50
2. Re: 18 days Road Trip of South Island

You asked about Dart River and Shotover Jet. Since you are going to Glenorchy, the Dart River Safari initiates from there. You can either be shuttled from Queenstown, or meet up with the group in Glenorchy. The time on the jetboat is significantly longer on Dart River than Shotover, and it's focused on the amazing scenery. The Shotover Jetboat is about 20 minutes of white-knuckled thrills. You are right next to the canyon walls going full speed.

It might help if we knew the ages of the children to suggest any kid-friendly activities.

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for Zhuhai, Macau
posts: 17,198
reviews: 158
3. Re: 18 days Road Trip of South Island

Mt Cook to Te Anau is possible - AAmaps give 5:36 hr - but it is not a trip I would recommend with 4 kids. Checking out at 8 am means a very early breakfast & military precision. Why not stop in Wanaka for a night? Wanaka has Puzzling World, which the kids would love. Then visit Arrowtown on the way to Te Anau.

Another option if you want to avoid one night stays, would be to stay in Queenstown from day 5-8; drive to Te Anau on day 9- 12 and return to QTN in time for your flight on day 13.

Nelson, New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
posts: 18,909
reviews: 44
4. Re: 18 days Road Trip of South Island

best not drive Aoraki/Mt Cook all the way to Te Anau. It is a long drive.

either

Aoraki -> Arrowtown -> Te Anau -> Queenstown

or

Aoraki -> Wanaka - Te Anau - Queenstown

Canandaigua
posts: 705
reviews: 117
5. Re: 18 days Road Trip of South Island

One of our favorite child centered activities was swimming in thePelorus river near Nelson. You would need a car for that . The hike to Wainui Falls just north of Able Tasman was also a favorite. In Christchurch, the Antarctic Center is fun and informative for adults and children.

Wanaka, New Zealand
posts: 1,541
reviews: 12
6. Re: 18 days Road Trip of South Island

The Riwaka Resurgence is also interesting. The river comes straight out of the ground. It's a 10 min walk to see it. It is near the Marahau turnoff from the main road.

Chennai (Madras...
posts: 6
reviews: 22
7. Re: 18 days Road Trip of South Island

Thank you all for the replies. Telly N - I was thinking of Kaikoura as we don't have any wild life activity in the schedule. Hence thought children will love it. But am a little apprehensive about sea sickness, children and wife especially, also because it is weather related and we have only one day so it becomes unpredictable, however the drive there looks fabulous as seen on google street view, but again looks like it will be similar to the west coast drive. I had never thought about Wanaka as a stopover, thanks for this suggestions and the ones for Marahau. Will consider. Was considering doing Arrowtown on the way from Te Anau because I was planning to drop off the car on arrival at Queenstown. We are planning to put ourselves up in the center of town hence thought most attractions will be walkable. As for activities like jet boating I suppose the tour will include pickup and drop. Many posts indicate that parking will be an issue in queenstown. Hence the plans to drop off car. Zuhai2007 - Mt cook to Te Anau drive was essentially to avoid one night stopovers, my initial plan was a stopover in Queenstown, will now consider Wanaka. However practically will have only a few hours in the afternoon at our disposal in Wanaka, is this worth it, any extension of stay will mean less time in queenstown and TeAnau. Again my initial plan was to finish Queenstown first as suggested by you . But planning to take the Air New zealand flight around 10.30 Am out of ZQN , hence driving in from Te Anau on that day may be difficult. de Schenke - Children are 8 and 13, Can they do shotover jet? Do we need to go to Glenorchy for Shotover jet? can we spend time in Glenorchy and do jet boating on same day? If we need to do this, is a car required? Snowyandsniggles - how long does the hike to Wainui falls take, I hope it is doable by children. Considering it will be starting of winter, won't it be too cold for a river swim? Chennai is on an average 33 - 35 C year round !!! Any body aware of ballooning activity, around Queenstown / Christchurch, we narrowly missed this on a trip to Bled, Slovenia a couple of years ago due to bad weather.If I remember right It seems much more expensive in New Zealand than in Bled. Thanks once again to all . Any further suggestions welcome.

Wanaka, New Zealand
posts: 1,541
reviews: 12
8. Re: 18 days Road Trip of South Island

"Many posts indicate that parking will be an issue in queenstown. Hence the plans to drop off car"

Yes, that might be the case. We have stayed in QT hotels and have never had problems parking our car - either in their car park on on the street nearby.

" my initial plan was a stopover in Queenstown, will now consider Wanaka. However practically will have only a few hours in the afternoon at our disposal in Wanaka, is this worth it, any extension of stay will mean less time in queenstown and TeAnau."

I don't think you will regret an overnight in Wanaka. It has quite a different vibe to Queenstown. The scenery is stunning, the town is relaxed and there are some lovely short walks, as well as Puzzling World that will appeal to kids.

" Do we need to go to Glenorchy for Shotover jet? can we spend time in Glenorchy and do jet boating on same day?"

Shotover jet is on the Shotover River. There is another jet boat at Glenorchy but I can't remember the name, probably something with dart River in it.

" If we need to do this, is a car required?"

Self-drive would be the easiest way to get to Glenorchy.

"Any body aware of ballooning activity, around Queenstown / Christchurch,"

I haven't heard of ballooning around QT but believe there is in Chch

Cheers

Telly.

Singapore
posts: 65
reviews: 8
9. Re: 18 days Road Trip of South Island

Hi,

In Kaikoura, may I suggest swimming with the dolphins, kayaking with the seals and Wings over Whales. The kids will love those. We are doing all three activities in July. If you book through bookme, you can get good discounts. I suggest to skip the Whale Watch cos of the GREAT chance for terrible sea sickness.

In Queenstown, why not go horse-riding in Glenorchy ? Discounted tickets available too. If you haven't seen snow before, try skiing. Kids learn fast too.

Canandaigua
posts: 705
reviews: 117
10. Re: 18 days Road Trip of South Island

In Queenstown, Keep the car, there is parking if you don't mind a bit of a walk. The kids will love the luge, which is fun and not too expensive, and you can watch the bungee jumping.

The Wainui falls walk is mostly flat and well marked. It took us about 2 1/2 hours round trip with my 75 year old parents. The average 9 year old will do it in less. Be sure to bring water and a picnic.

I suggest you purchase a cooler and keep drinks and snacks with you. Places to purchase food can be few and far between.

We spent a day and night in Wanaka. It is beautiful with some easy hikes. We didn't get todo Puzzling World because it was too nice outside.

Our family's favorite hike was near Mt Cook to Hooker lake. There are icebergs floating on the lake! It is also mostly flat with gorgeous views of snowy mountains and you cross 3 swing bridges! It took us about 2 hours each way, and again bring water, food and layers of clothing.

If you haven't booked all your accommodations, I would consider a couple stays in family rooms at Youth Hostels. You can cook in the kitchen and it's a great way to meet people. Eden's Edge in Moetuka was really nice, we also liked Taylor Made in Tekapo.

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