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Loop suggestion for South Island 8 days in early Jan

Seattle, Washington
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170 posts
4 reviews
3 helpful votes
Loop suggestion for South Island 8 days in early Jan
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Hello,

We have 8 days to do a loop from Christchurch (rental car is coming out to be too expensive to return in queenstown).

Can you provide recommended stops and a loop suggestion?

We’d like to drive by the west coast and check out the beaches - it’s the most beautiful drive.

We can skip fox glacier as we would like to do mt cook and see the night sky at lake tekapo. We also want to do the hooker valley trail. Another must do is Milford sound cruise (hoping a pick up from hotel in queenstown)

We have in our late 20s with our parents in early 60s. They would love a road trip with scenic views (which is everywhere in NZ? :))

I have an idea for the trip from queenstown - wanaka- lake tekapo - Christchurch, but struggling with the other side.

Also is one side recommended over the other? Thank you

8 replies to this topic
Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Fiji, New Zealand, Tasmania
Level Contributor
27,365 posts
440 reviews
244 helpful votes
1. Re: Loop suggestion for South Island 8 days in early Jan
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RiaMia 8 days (not sure if that is 7 or 8 nights) to do a loop isn't enought time. With your wish list you will need to do a one way.

Have a look at getting a car from APEX or one of the other second teir companies in regards to one way rentals

Christchurch 2 nights

Mt Cook 2 nights

Wanaka 1 night

Queenstown 3 nights (1 full day for Milford Sound Coach tour)

Fly to CHC and out

Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
170 posts
4 reviews
3 helpful votes
2. Re: Loop suggestion for South Island 8 days in early Jan
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I can make it 9/10 days - would that work?

Seattle, Washington
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170 posts
4 reviews
3 helpful votes
3. Re: Loop suggestion for South Island 8 days in early Jan
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I’ve looked at multiple companies and the difference is over 400-500 USD. It’s better to add a few more days and get a better trip and experience more of the country. If you all could recommend a different route for the way back that’d be great!

California
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for New Zealand
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18,437 posts
71 reviews
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4. Re: Loop suggestion for South Island 8 days in early Jan
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I hope you mean early January 2025. If you do mean January 2024, that's why the car rental is at a premium, as will be accommodation.

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for Christchurch, South Island, Akaroa
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51,115 posts
576 reviews
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5. Re: Loop suggestion for South Island 8 days in early Jan
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10 days if you can extend, makes a huge difference. You'll find several iterations of the standard 10 day loop from Chch-Hokitika-Fox Glacier-Wanaka-Te Anau/Milford Sound-QTN-Aoraki Mt Cook-Chch if you do a search.

You say you want to skip Fox Glacier, but want to do the West Coast! There is only one road (SH6) down the West Coast so at least passing through FG is part of the route.

However if you want a bit less driving & still want a loop have you thought of:

1-2. Chch (2N)

3. Oamaru (penguins)

4.-5 Dunedin (2N)

6-8. QTN (3N) Day tour to Milford Sound on the 7th.

9. Aoraki Mt Cook

10. Back to Chch.

Sydney, Australia
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for Fiji, New Zealand, Tasmania
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6. Re: Loop suggestion for South Island 8 days in early Jan
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This is a standard loop with the West Coast included.

1. Arr CHC

2. Drive to Hokitika via Arthurs Pass.

3. Drive to Hokitika Gorge then via Franz Josef for lunch and onto Fox Glacier

4. Morning view of Lake Matheson then drive to Wanaka

5 Drive to Te Anau (possible Glow worm caves in the afternoon.(2N)

6. Drive or Coach tour to Milford Sound for cruise

7. Drive to QTN (2N)

8. QTN activities

9. Drive to Mt Cook

10. Drive via Lake Tekapo, Rakaia Gorge and scenic Rd 72 to CHC

11. Fly home

You could say a day by doing a coach trip from Queenstown

5 Drive to Queenstown visiting Arrowtown along the way (3N)

6. Coach tour to Milford Sound for cruise

7. QTN activities

8. Drive to Mt Cook

9. Drive via Lake Tekapo, Rakaia Gorge and scenic Rd 72 to CHC

10. Fly home

Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
170 posts
4 reviews
3 helpful votes
7. Re: Loop suggestion for South Island 8 days in early Jan
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Thank you!

Between the two suggestions - which one would you recommend for scenic drive that seniors would enjoy?

Would you recommend adding Abel Tasman and removing some other attractions?

Christchurch, New...
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for Christchurch, South Island, Akaroa
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51,115 posts
576 reviews
231 helpful votes
8. Re: Loop suggestion for South Island 8 days in early Jan
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You would have to completely re-jig the itinerary to include Abel Tasman - at the opposite end of the SI, but first can you confirm that you are talking about 2025, not NEXT month!

It will be impossible to get accommodation in Abel Tasman in January 2024 at this late stage.

Between Options 1 & 2, I think you need to start looking at accommodation before committing.

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