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Last minute trip planning in South Island

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Last minute trip planning in South Island
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Hi Everyone,

I am a procrastinator by nature (which I am trying very hard to change) and am now just starting to plan my South Island trip! Its my first time in NZ and I can't wait to explore its beauty. I will be going with my entire family (they are all relying on me to plan everything!). We love being in nature, hiking, oceans/swimming, wildlife, looking at scenery, eating fresh healthy food. No need for nightlife or citylife. We just want to relax and see the magnificent natural beauty that NZ has.

I will be landing in AKL the morning of 3/8. I plan to fly straight to Nelson because I booked Wilson's 3 day guided hike in Abel Tasman (so excited!). My question is now that I am so far north on SI, where should I go next?

I need to fly back to AKL on the evening of 3/19 as I have a flight out of AKL to home on 3/20. Therefore I have 3/12-3/19 7 days to explore the rest of south island. Some places I know for sure I would like to visit is: Milford sound, Hooker valley trail and stay overnight at Mt cook. Maybes are Glow worm cave at Te anau. I am undecided as of right now whether to fly from Christchurch or Queenstown to AKL on 3/19. Any itinerary suggestions would be extremely helpful as I leave in 2 weeks! Thanks in advance !

27 replies to this topic
Auckland, New...
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1. Re: Last minute trip planning in South Island
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Well I don't think you'll be staying in Mt Cook for the night, the chances of getting accommodation two weeks from now for a family is next to non existent.

Sorry, but we write the dates DD/MM/YYYY down here, it hurts my eyes trying to read it your way :)

California
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2. Re: Last minute trip planning in South Island
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I'd suggest you fly to Queenstown and spend 2 nights in Te Anau, 2 nights in Wanaka, and 3 nights in Queenstown.

Why would your family leave the trip planning to the procrastinator in the family?

Christchurch, New...
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3. Re: Last minute trip planning in South Island
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So let's get it straight:

8th March - arrive AKL; Fly to NSN

9th-11th - Hike ATCT

12th Fly NSN to ZQN (3N

13th Full day coach tour to Milford Sound

14th Pick up rental car & explore Arrowtown or Glenorchy etc

15th Drive to Twizel (2N)

16th Day trip to Aoraki Mt Cook

17th Drive to Chch (2N)

19th Fly back to AKL & home.

Rarotonga, Cook...
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4. Re: Last minute trip planning in South Island
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Where is your group going to Crash and Burn? In all reality after flying many miles to Auckland then to Nelson same day to walk the AT tracks will take its toll among members of your group! Only to fly to Queenstown to drive to Twizel for Mt Cook and on to Christchurch? Madness!

Spend all of your time in Queenstown and explore Central Otago. Fly from Queenstown to Auckland the night your departing flight to home.

Nelson-Tasman...
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5. Re: Last minute trip planning in South Island
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the abel tasman three day guided trip is fantastic - wonderful meals, comfy beds and hot showers in beautiful beachfront accommodation. If you regular walkers its very achieveable and not hard. Im on the abel tasman now and its absolutely stunning.

#3 has a good itinerary option if you wish to see the lower south as well. But how many are in your family? what ages are they.

i would also suggest 12th - drive to punakaiki, stay there (pancake rocks, porariri river walk, canoe the river, truman)

13th - hokitika

14th - ? depending on interests but methven, christchurch or somewhere else

15th Drive to mt cook national park, first choice, otherwise twizel

16th Day trip to Aoraki Mt Cook

17th Drive to queenstown (2 nights)

19th Fly back to AKL from queenstown

Rarotonga, Cook...
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6. Re: Last minute trip planning in South Island
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I again ask the question, with long haul travel to Auckland and on to Nelson same day for a 3 day hike, where is this particular group going to Crash and Burn???

With more destinations added into the mix, above, this will set itself well for Total Driver Fatigue. At the Risk of ordinary motorists !

Nelson-Tasman...
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7. Re: Last minute trip planning in South Island
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#6 they fly into nelson on the 8th (likely arriving before midday). have plenty of time to rest. wilsons have pickups from nelson for the 3 day guided trip. And i find nothing is better for jet lag and recovery than being in the outdoors and walking in nature. The huge advantage with wilsons guided walk is that you can take the water shuttle between any of the points if you are tired, feel like a break or for any reason. So i wouldnt stress about crashing and burning. Or having to walk.

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8. Re: Last minute trip planning in South Island
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Thank you all for your suggestions, I will keep in mind to write dates in the DD/MM/YY format from now on. (Why do we Americans have to do everything differently?!) And great point @deschenke I should ask my family that as well haha...

@Zhuhai2007 yes the dates are correct. So you recommend flying from NSN to ZQN instead of driving and seeing things on the way? Are there any boat cruises you recommend for Milford Sound? Would you recommend skipping the glow worms at Te Anau?

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9. Re: Last minute trip planning in South Island
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Sorry I posted before I saw the other responses.

Nzp0ppy is correct, we fly into Nelson on 08/03 so we will have a day to rest before Wilson's picks us up for our 3 day guided trip which ends on 11/03. We are pretty active (late 30s) so I'm excited to jump in.

My husband doesn't mind driving if its scenic or there are things to do and see on the way. Alternatively, I don't mind flying to either Christchurch or Queenstown from Nelson if there is nothing to see on the drive between. My only must sees so far are Mt Cook and Milford sound. The helicopter tour of Franz Josef sounds interesting too. (I would like to do a glacier hike, I need to do more research on which one though).

I do need some help on the logistics. I am also good with flying out of either Queenstown or Christchurch on 19/03 for my flight home on 20/03.

Rarotonga, Cook...
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10. Re: Last minute trip planning in South Island
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I also absolutely recommend flying in to Queenstown from Nelson! Why would you want to drive To Queenstown after a long haul flight and A 3 day walk?

The easier the better experience IMHO. Spare yourselves of unnecessary effort for our group's sake..

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