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First time to NZ

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Sydney, Australia
posts: 4
First time to NZ

My husband and I are planning our first trip to NZ in mid October 2012. We're in the mid-50s and prefer a more relaxing time, no extreme activities.We're flying from SYD to AKL(visit brother) then fly to South Island. After a bit of research and following TA reviews, this is our proposed plan:

Option 1:

14 Oct : SYD to AKL..

15 Oct: AKL

16 Oct:: AKL -QTN.

17 Oct :- coach trip to Milford Sound

18 Oct : QTN

19 Oct : QTN - Wanaka

20 Oct: Wanaka - Mt Cook

21 Oct: Mt Cook

22 Oct :Mt Cook - Tekapu

23 Oct:: Tekapu - CHC

24 Oct: CHC - SYD

Option 2

20 Oct: Wanaka - Fox Glaxier

21 Oct: Fox Glacier - Franz Josef

22 Oct: FJ - Hokitika/Greymouth

23 Oct: Greymth - CHC

Which would be a better plan and more interesting to visit? We plan to self-drive from QTN from 19/10.. We would welcome suggestions on budget accomodation in QTN and other places. The TA reviews suggest visits to Mt Cook and Fox Glacier but with the time we have , we need to choose one feasible option. Is it worth spending 3 nights around FG/FJ /Greymouth area. Is a compact car adequate or do we need a AWD. We welcome suggestions on other places to stay which fits into our schedule.


Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for Zhuhai, Macau
posts: 20,715
reviews: 204
1. Re: First time to NZ

Welcome to the NZ Forum. Either itinerary is going to work, it really depends on the weather on the day. My preference for the 22nd would be punakaiki rather than hokitika or Greymouth, but it does add to your driving.

South Island
Destination Expert
for South Island
posts: 1,266
2. Re: First time to NZ

I agree with zhuhai I would head up the west coast and try and include Punakaiki. When you arrive in Milford Sound ask your coach driver about the flight options on the day. Certain coach drivers can access the half price standby seats for a return flight to Queenstown, after you have done the cruise in the fiords. If the weather is suitable for flying this is a great option.

A compact car is a good choice as you don't really need a AWD

Western Victoria
posts: 279
reviews: 49
3. Re: First time to NZ

Can I suggest you get the car a day earlier, in addtion to what you can see in Queenstown there are a lot of short drives to Glenorchy, Arrowtown etc etc etc which make it worthwhile.

One though is the time spent at Mt Cook, its a beautiful place but Wanaka -Mt Cook should see you there early afternoon, a full day at Mt Cook, then a short hop to Tekapo. This is a lot of time at Mt Cook.

Maybe others could comment, would leaving Mt Cook mid afternoon on 21/10 to Tekapo, Then over to Akaroa, would this be too long a day??. Then on to ChCh afternoon of 23/10.

Regardless, you wont regret spending time anywhere you stay.

Nelson, New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
posts: 21,807
reviews: 48
4. Re: First time to NZ

My preference is option 1 - I adore the scenery at Lindis Pass and I get rather tired of bush when travelling up the West Coast - plus Aoraki/Mt Cook has wonderful walking trails to enjoy the scenery and there is the fabulous glacier explorers cruise amongst the icebergs - http://www.glacierexplorers.com/

You are far more likely to encounter rain on the West Coast than if inland.

But yes, if you do go up the West Coast then stay at Punakaiki instead of Greymouth or Hokitika.

Happy travels :)

Sydney, Australia
posts: 4
5. Re: First time to NZ

Thank you to all the posters. Looks like we need to toss a coin to decide on one of the options. I am pre-booking accomodation in QTN. Is it convenient to just drive and obtain accomodation in places where we want to spend the night? It gives us the option of changing the schedule, esp. if the weather turns bad?

South Island
Destination Expert
for South Island
posts: 1,266
6. Re: First time to NZ

There is no need to book ahead in October. Keep your plans flexible as it makes the travel more relaxing.

Navi Mumbai, India
Destination Expert
for Genting Highlands
posts: 2,220
reviews: 68
7. Re: First time to NZ

Option 1 is good, in the south island you cannot miss lake Tekapo- Mt cook - lindis pass drives.. only October 17 is going to be a really really long drive up n back from Milford. As suggested in an earlier post, you could explore flying back, but thus you can decide there itself depending on how tired you feel. Amazing cruise, Milford

Sydney, Australia
posts: 4
8. Re: First time to NZ

Thanks everyone. Looks like we are going for option 1. Most likely we are taking the coach day trip to Milford S. We're hiring a car when we leave QTN enroute to CHC. Will report back how things went. Cheers.

9. Re: First time to NZ

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