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How best to spend time on South Island

Watford,Herts
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7 posts
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How best to spend time on South Island

Our trip to New Zealand is in final planning stages now! All flights and city accommodation booked, hire car arranged for North Island but would appreciate some input re South Island. We will be arriving in Christchurch from Wellington via ferry and Coastal Pacific railway 16th March 2014. We fly out of Christchurch 6.30am on 28th March. We will be picking up a hire car for the first part of our time in S.I. but are thinking of doing a short coach trip (so the designated driver gets to see something other than the road!!) to Milford Sound, Mt Cook, Doubtful Sound, Queenstown from Christchurch 23rd March returning to Christchurch on 27th with airport transfer on the 28th.Will we have enough time to self drive some or all of the Southern Scenic route, Caitlins etc in the days prior to the coach trip?

Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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1. Re: How best to spend time on South Island

That sounds like a very rushed coach tour - 5 places in 5 days! Do you fly back to CHC from Queenstown?

So you are left with 6 days but need to return to Chch to pick up the tour, which means considerable back-tracking - possibly driving SH 8 three times!

You could drive Chch to Dunedin (2N); Southern Scenic/Catlins (2N-perhaps the second one in Invercargill); Wanaka; Chch; or you could finish up in Queenstown and fly back to Chch.

Personally I'd look at going in the opposite direction or dropping the coach tour in favour of a more leisurely self-drive round trip.

Watford,Herts
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2. Re: How best to spend time on South Island

Thank you for your input. As I said the reason for selecting a coach tour was to give my driver a break. How about if we drop the "rushed" tour and pick up hire car in Christchurch on the 17th March after having a look around Christchurch and then driving to Lake Tekapo (1nt) then to Wanaka (what is here?) via Mount Cook NP (stay Omarama?) then to Queenstown via Arrowtown. 2 nights Queenstown, take the long day Milford Sound coach tour. Then leisurely drive back to Christchurch via Catlins (Nugget Point etc) with overnights on the way? Do you know if we are likely to be able to pick up Farmstays on any of this route?

Nova Scotia
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for Nova Scotia
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3. Re: How best to spend time on South Island

So you have 11 or 12 days. For sure you would be better taking shorter drives and taking the coach from Queenstown or Te Anau to Milford Sound and back.

We had 19 days with a car and added in two nights on the West Coast and two days skiing. We did not get to Dunedin so I cannot comment on that.

You should consider staying at Mount Cook. It is beautiful and there are lots of things to do. You can drive there from Christchurch with a stop in Lake Takapo if you wish. Spend two nights at Mount Cook so you have a day to explore. Then you can drive to Wanaka (lovely town on a lake with lots of walking trails and scenery), Queenstown or Arrowtown (stay in one for three days and visit the other), Te Anau for two nights with the trip coach trip to Milford Sound, and then you have three or four more days to get back to Christchurch.

4. Re: How best to spend time on South Island

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