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Driving the West Coast of South Island, New Zealand

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Vienna, Va.
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Driving the West Coast of South Island, New Zealand

We are thinking of driving from Arthurs Pass to Queenstown & stopping overnight somewhere. Interested in how long it will take, type of road, would you rate the drive easy, difficult etc. Any suggestions where to stop midway.

New Zealand
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for South Island
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1. Re: Driving the West Coast of South Island, New Zealand

Hi Judy :)

This handy link shows travel times www.aatravel.co.nz/main/td-calculator.php you will need to add more time for sightseeing, eating, photography and so on.

The drive Arthur's Pass to Queenstown is quite special and shouldn't be rushed. Most travellers stay a couple of nights at Franz Josef or Fox to visit the glaciers, then many stop again for a night or two at Wanaka for it's wonderful hiking and so on. If time is limited then you could go AP to the glaciers to Q'town over two days.

The road is neither easy nor overly challenging, though it does require the driver's full concentration. There are many long sections of narrow, twisty and steep road. Plus there are about 20 one-lane bridges to negotiate between Fox and Wanaka. Do take notice of the signage to see when you are required to give way to opposing traffic.

The drive Haast to Wanaka is my favourite section of the journey with great short walks to waterfalls and through the beech forest.

Keep asking questions, we are here to help :)

Christchurch, New...
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2. Re: Driving the West Coast of South Island, New Zealand

This is one of the really great drives in NZ. I havn't been past Haast for a while so I'm not sure WL is correct and I claim that Arturs Pass is the greatest drive anywhere! It's different every time you do it. The colours are contantly changing.

WL does describe it rather well. The biggest hazzard I have found is people stopped in completly stupid places (the middle of a one way bridge for example!) to take photos. There is always a safe place to stop near by.

As well as the landscape there are places you will see one of NZ's smartest bird, the Kea. Please do not feed them.

Edited: 1:06 am, June 04, 2011
West Coast Region...
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3. Re: Driving the West Coast of South Island, New Zealand

You can't go far wrong with directions - there's basically only one road south Arthurs pass - Hokitika - Franz Josef - Fox Glacier - Haast - Wanaka - Queenstown.

If you drove solidly it would take at least 8 hours of sometimes very windy roads. Some of the most beautiful scenery in NZ. A stop in Fox or Franz would be where most people stop (and see the Glaciers) - nice hot pools, eating places and plenty of accom in Franz so that would be my pick.

Please be aware that sometimes you will be the only car on the road and without reminders this is when many tourists used to driving on the right hand side of the road tend to forget, so be careful.

Christchurch, New...
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4. Re: Driving the West Coast of South Island, New Zealand

Hang on cowcocky, navigation is not quite that simple. You have the choice of going up the road or down it! Just make sure the mountains are on your left. LOL

Greymouth, New...
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5. Re: Driving the West Coast of South Island, New Zealand

One ting to remember, is make sure you have had a nights sleep if you have just arrived in NZ before long driving as driving fatigue is a real killer and can spoil a good holiday

the road you are contemplating hold world heritage status, si is second to non other.

take that advice as above and enjoy your holiday

australia
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6. Re: Driving the West Coast of South Island, New Zealand

Arthurs Pass - Glaciers, though if time is running out, Hokitika is a fine overnight stop north of the Galciers, (and great beach sunsets), and then a early start next morning

Glaciers - Wanaka,

and then onto Queenstown is how I would split this drive.

However unless you are leaving Galciers early in the day (having spent at least the afternoon and night prior there), I would not rush from Haast (leave the coast here) to Wanaka late afternoon for an overnight - better stop in 'quiet, little to do at night' Haast and enjoy a leisurely morning drive Haast-Wanaka - there are many worthwhile scenic short stops on this drive that you would miss later in the day hurrying to Wanaka.

I also suggest going Wanaka-Queenstown via Cardona and the Crown Range road as a scenic alternate experience. Its shorter too. Save a bit of expensive NZ petrol, though not much quicker to drive.

Remember distances on the maps look short, but the roads are windy and whilst in good condition take longer than most expect. And there is something different to see around almost every corner.

7. Re: Driving the West Coast of South Island, New Zealand

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