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12 days South Island Road Trip

Kuala Lumpur...
Level Contributor
23 posts
12 days South Island Road Trip

Hello travel experts

We are 3 couples in our mid 50’s to early 60's going on our first self-drive trip to South Island. We like good food, wine & music, active but not very adventurous (so no bungy jumping). Our trip is 12 days from 6 to 17 Nov and our itinerary is as follows :

6 Nov – CHCH (late night arrival)

7 Nov – CHCH (mostly free & easy with half day City Sights Tour in afternoon)

8 Nov – Franz Josef (Trans Alpine Scenic Train to Greymouth. Drive to Franz Josef)

9 Nov – Franz Josef (Glacier Valley Walk, Glacier Hot Pools)

10 Nov – Queenstown (along the way - Lake Paringa, Hasst Pass, Makarora)

11 Nov – Queenstown (explore ZQT, botanical gardens, Kawarau & Shotover Rivers and Gondola buffet dinner)

12 Nov – Queenstown (Milford Sound Coach & Nature Cruise)

13 Nov – Queenstown (Arrowtown & Wanaka)

14 Nov – Dunedin (along the way - Lake Wakatipu, Alexandra, St Bathans, Ranfurly, Clutha River & Speights Brewery Tour & Dinner)

15 Nov – Lake Takepo (along the way - Kurou, Omarama, Twizel, Lake Takepo and Star Gazing at night)

16 Nov – CHCH (Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park DOC Visitor Center & Hooker Valley Walk before departing Lake Takepo)

17 Nov – Depart CHCH early morning

Hotel bookings are already confirmed, so we will not be able to do major changes to the plan. We don’t expect to see everything but hope to cover ‘not to be missed’ places. Please let me know if we have missed out anything interesting especially along the drive from Greymouth to Franz Josef and Franz Josef to Queenstown.

During our 4 days in Queenstown, do you think we have time to cover Mt Aspiring National Park and when? Do you think we still have time to drive up Mt Cook Village on 16 Nov otw to CHCH? We would also appreciate suggestions on places to eat especially along the driving routes.

Thank you 

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Fiji
Level Contributor
6,132 posts
282 reviews
1. Re: 12 days South Island Road Trip

*****Hotel bookings are already confirmed*** If you have made all your accommodation bookings then there is not much we can assist you with.

10 Nov Franz Joseph to Queenstown is really too far to drive with all the interesting places to stop along the way it normally takes about 7 hrs to get to Wanaka from Fox Glacier and you are at least 30 mins further away at FJG let alone travelling to QTN.

on Nov 13th you might have time to do something in Mt Aspiring National Park

It seems you are rushing across to Dunedin (Nov 14) just to come back to Lake Takepo not sure why but once again your accommodation is booked so everything is locked in.

If you leave early morning on the 16th as you have stayed at Lake takepo you would have the morning to drive to Mt Cook and back to CHC.

There are many water falls and scenic spots travelling down the west coast to QTN all within short distances from the main road.

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
Level Contributor
39,774 posts
443 reviews
2. Re: 12 days South Island Road Trip

Agree with GTS that you have 3 major mistakes in this very rushed trip but the only one you can do anything about now is the 16th.

Aoraki-Mt Cook to Chch is already a long day but adding the extra 90 min back-tracking from LT leaves you little time for the hooker Valley walk. I suggest you visit Mt Cook on day 15 instead.

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Fiji
Level Contributor
6,132 posts
282 reviews
3. Re: 12 days South Island Road Trip

If you did the drive to Mt Cook on the 15th which is about 5 hrs non stop driving you will have no time to see the Moeraki Boulders or visit Oamaru (Steampunk and historic buildings) on the way to Kurow

On the 16th you would have nearly 6 hrs driving Non Stop so basically your call if it is a must do.

Kuala Lumpur...
Level Contributor
23 posts
4. Re: 12 days South Island Road Trip

Thank you all for your very prompt advise and comments. I will review the itinerary and check if we can do anything with the hotel booking in Dunedin. If we can cancel Dunedin, where would be a good 1 night stopover between Queenstown and Lake Tekapo? In Dunedin, we were going to do Speights Brewery Tour & Dinner. Is this only available in Dunedin?

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
Level Contributor
39,774 posts
443 reviews
5. Re: 12 days South Island Road Trip

Obviously Aoraki-Mt cook is the sensible place to stay rather than all that back tracking!!

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Fiji
Level Contributor
6,132 posts
282 reviews
6. Re: 12 days South Island Road Trip

There is only one Speights Brewery Tour & Dinner and that is at Dunedin.

There is a Speights Ale House in Greymouth though at 130 Mawhera Quay, Greymouth.

Yes if you can secure accommodation stay at Aoraki-Mt cook.

Kuala Lumpur...
Level Contributor
23 posts
7. Re: 12 days South Island Road Trip

Once again, thank you all for your swift advise.

Zhuhai, the reason I asked was accommodation at Mt Cook gets booked up quickly. With barely 2 months to our travel date, I wasn't sure if we can still find suitable accommodation. I will do a quick check. Thanks

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Fiji
Level Contributor
6,132 posts
282 reviews
8. Re: 12 days South Island Road Trip

Try all of these.

There are 5 options at Mount Cook Village, plus one at Glentanner Park (20 minutes away).

Hermitage Hotel

Aoraki Mount Cook Motel

Aoraki Alpine Lodge

YHA Mt Cook

Mount Cook Lodge and Motels

Glentanner Park

Kuala Lumpur...
Level Contributor
23 posts
9. Re: 12 days South Island Road Trip

I did a quick check, all are fully booked except for Hermitage Hotel and Glentanner Park. Anyway, thank you greytravellerSydney :)

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
Level Contributor
39,774 posts
443 reviews
10. Re: 12 days South Island Road Trip

Do you need more than two places to stay? It is only for one night!