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Stay in Wanaka and skip queenstown?

Anchorage, Alaska
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20 posts
Stay in Wanaka and skip queenstown?
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Hi, we have 9N (8 full days) in the South Island in March 2024. I am considering skipping queenstown and instead heading directly to Wanaka?

We are interested in walking everywhere, small town vibes ie. We love ski mountain towns in the summer, kayaking, hiking (altho we will mostly do that at other points), not interested in super fancy restaurants or any nightlife at all.

Our budget isn’t super large so queenstown is seeming a little expensive. I have found hotels close to the airport to be around half the price though.

So plan would be Arrive 7pm and head to Wanaka for 3N then 2N mt cook 1N somewhere halfway probably airport hotel in Frankton 2N routeburn track (start at divide shelter) 1N airport hotel Leave AM

I would love to eliminate some of the hotel changes but I don’t think I can see how. Routeburn is booked and can’t be changed. Car hire and mt cook accom is booked but can be changed.

Should I adjust and do 2N wanaka 2N mt cook 2N queenstown (stay downtown) 2N routeburn 1N airport hotel?

Or is the extra night in Wanaka going to be worth it like I think it will be ?

How is the frankton area (thinking of Wyndham) in terms of walking to breakfast/ dinner? A few simple options around?

Thankyou very much

Thanks

24 replies to this topic
Nelson-Tasman...
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for South Island, Nelson-Tasman Region, New Zealand, Tonga
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1. Re: Stay in Wanaka and skip queenstown?
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frankton is basically a suburb of queenstown. we often stay at the driftaway in frankton and it is easy to get into queenstown on the ferry, bus, bike. When we have been hiking and have a flight out the next day we stay in frankton and have found the eating places good.

where are you arriving from at 7pm? otherwise i wouldnt recommend the crown range and driving to wanaka if you have been travelling internationally.

Arrowtown, New...
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2. Re: Stay in Wanaka and skip queenstown?
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Are you hiking Routeburn independently or with Ulitmate Hikes? How are you getting to/ from the start/end of Routeburn? (Ah, from your other post it looks like you will do independently and use TrackNet?)

Where are you arriving to ZQN from? (Again from other post - Sydney?)

Even arriving from Sydney at 7pm, it'll be 8.30pm before you're in your rental car - so driving to Wānaka in the dark is not sensible.

At this stage you might still be able to move Mt Cook accom? Of so, I'd look at the following...

2N Arrowtown

2N Mt Cook

2N Wānaka

(Very) early leave Wānaka, return rental, jump Track net (I'm not sure what time they leave Queenstown Airport/ Frankton Bus station)

2N Routeburn

1N - last night you have lots of options - downtown ZQN, anywhere along Frankton Rd, Driftaway, Five Mile/ Remarkables Park area.

Anchorage, Alaska
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20 posts
3. Re: Stay in Wanaka and skip queenstown?
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We were originally planning on doing tracknet but now considering just doing the car relocation. We missed hut bookings and are now tent camping so will put the money from that towards the relocation to make things easier!

Yes from Sydney, so NZ time would be 2hrs ahead. Ie. 5pm on our body clocks on arrival. Hubby is used to alpine/mountain driving so assumed he would be ok for he drive to wanaka. I wish we could change tickets to earlier flight!

Anchorage, Alaska
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4. Re: Stay in Wanaka and skip queenstown?
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And yes Mt cook can be changed, right now there is still some availability the entire week.

Nelson-Tasman...
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for South Island, Nelson-Tasman Region, New Zealand, Tonga
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5. Re: Stay in Wanaka and skip queenstown?
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#3 by the time you leave home for the airport, check in, security, boarding, flight, disembark you are likely to have spent 7 hours travelling. Do not arrive at queenstown and drive to wanaka. the crown range is one of nzs most dangerous roads. we drove it earlier this year and a car crashed just in front of us.

its possible, and likely, the flight could be delayed. dont rush. its really not worth the stress and its not a road to be taken lightly.

Anchorage, Alaska
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20 posts
6. Re: Stay in Wanaka and skip queenstown?
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Thanks for the help, maybe we do

Airport hotel 1N

mt cook 2N

wanaka 3N

routeburn 2N

airport hotel 1N

If staying in wanaka I think we would need to keep rental car for Routeburn and get relocation service as we would need to make 6:55am bus in queenstown. There’s not time to do that and return car etc. next bus doesn’t get us there till almost 3pm and just isn’t a safe option for us. Don’t want to have to rush to make it by nightfall.

We could pick up car second day of the trip and return second to last day tho to save some money.

California
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7. Re: Stay in Wanaka and skip queenstown?
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Instead of staying at an airport hotel upon arrival, I would stay in Arrowtown for the night. It is only a 20-minute drive from the airport and is a lovely town in its own right. Being there in the morning is wonderful, before the tourists arrive.

Edited: 15 October 2023, 04:25
Arrowtown, New...
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8. Re: Stay in Wanaka and skip queenstown?
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In order to save money on uneccesary car rental and relocation fees you probably want to return your car before you do the Routeburn.

I would not want to stay at airport hotels twice in such a short time in NZ, you can airport hotel anywhere in the world (ok, most don't have views of the Remarks, but still).

I'd look at the folowing:

1N Arrowtown

2N Mt Cook

2N Wānaka

1N airport hotel (in order to return car and get Tracknet)

2N Routeburn

1N downtown Queenstown treat... or along Frankton Rd (Rees, Sherwood etc).

But also - what is the plan with luggage while you're doing the Routeburn?

Are you bringing tents with you from Oz? PLEASE ensure that they are very throughly cleaned (as with any camping/ hiking gear - boots etc).

Anchorage, Alaska
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20 posts
9. Re: Stay in Wanaka and skip queenstown?
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I wanted to avoid an extra hotel change, we are starting at the divide so we have the long drive to start of track and 5ish hr walk on top of that. Having a car gives us more flexibility to leave at say 8am instead of 6:55am and have to wait for the second bus transfer etc

But yes much more expensive.

Plan for luggage is to leave in car if we have it, if taking tracknet they can store luggage at a charge in queenstown.

We are likely planning on renting a tent but bringing everything else, will make sure boots etc are thoroughly cleaned before hand.

Edited: 15 October 2023, 10:06
Anchorage, Alaska
Level Contributor
20 posts
10. Re: Stay in Wanaka and skip queenstown?
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The airport hotels in ZQN looked pretty nice in comparison to some I’ve stayed at in the past in other countries.

I’ll have a look and see if I can find some reasonable accommodation in arrowtown

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