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Scenic drive to Queenstown

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posts: 99
reviews: 13
Scenic drive to Queenstown

Hi all!

Sister and brother in law from UK (in their 50s) have got six days in the South Island in early Jan, and want to take in Queenstown and, ideally, Milford Sound. They will have a rental car and enjoy scenic drives, but max 3 hours a day so they're not spending all their time in the car. They're big fans of natural scenery vs 'thrill seeking' activities (bungy jumping not on the ageda!) Couple of options:

Christchurch to Queenstown via Mount Cook, then Milford - stopover in Te Anau? or better to book a tour from Queenstown?

OR Dunedin to Invercargill/Bluff (scenic drive on coast road via Caitlins) and then onto Te Anau, then Queenstown.

Also how settled is the weather at Milford in Jan - do you need to 'budget' for more than one day at Te Anau so you can choose the best day for Milford (presumably it's not a good trip on a cloudy day?)

Thanks for your help.

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for Zhuhai, Macau
posts: 20,715
reviews: 204
1. Re: Scenic drive to Queenstown

6 days x 3 hours per day is not a lot, esp when talking about Milford. I assume they are happy to fly to or from anywhere?

I'd go:

Chch to Lake Tekapo (3 hr)

Tekapo to Wanaka via Mt Cook

Wanaka to Te Anau (2 N)

Day trip to Milford Sound (they could do a bus tour to save having to drive - about 4-5 hr on the road). With so little time they don't really have the luxury of choosing which day to go to Milford Sound.

Te Anau to QTN (2N)

Fly "home".

posts: 5,914
reviews: 31
2. Re: Scenic drive to Queenstown


I agree with zhuhai but would suggest the fly, cruise, heli, fly option for the Milford trip is infinitly preferable for those who don't like to drive for more than three hours in a car let alone a bus ride with 48 others!!


Nelson, New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
posts: 21,807
reviews: 48
3. Re: Scenic drive to Queenstown

While fly/cruise/fly is lovely, I don't think it beats experiencing the fabulous Milford Road.

Zhuhai's itinerary is great - or with less driving you could go;

1 Chch to Aoraki/Mt Cook 4 hours

2 to Wanaka 3 hours

3 to Queenstown 1-2 hours depending on route

4 bus/cruise Milford Sound, fly back to Q'town

5/6 explore Q'town

Hope this helps :)

Western Victoria
posts: 279
reviews: 49
4. Re: Scenic drive to Queenstown

Assuming that not everyone can afford to take all of these internal flights,

Chch to Mt Cook, nice small towns to stop and look through at Geraldine, Fairlie, Lake Tekapo to break up the trip.

Mt Cook to Qtown. Wanaka is a beautiful lake to stop at for lunch, have a look at Cromwell, stay at Qtown.

A day in Qtown, bungy jumping, Arrowrtown, Glenorchy (True LOTR country)

Bus trip to Milford Sound . Long day but a chance to relax and look at the scenery rather than comcentrating on the road. I'd also put in for consideration taking a trip to Doubtful Sound instead, at least there are choices.

Qtown to Dunedin via Ranfurly. have look at Clyde, Alexandra

Dunedin to Christchurch. Stops at Moeraki, Timaru, Oamaru

Might be some longer days but stopping at the many small towns will gprovide a break.

Edited: 10:21 pm, July 13, 2012
posts: 99
reviews: 13
5. Re: Scenic drive to Queenstown

Thanks everyone - I've phoned my sister and brother in law this morning and we've found your suggestions really helpful.

6. Re: Scenic drive to Queenstown

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