South Island New Zealand for 7-10 days(7 Posts)
We're heading to South Island for probably 7/8 but possibly 9/10 days in November (from Oz hence making short trip worthwhile) and it can't possibly be for any longer as can't get the leave. It'll be myself, DH, DM, DF and 3yr old DD. I know we won't be able to see anywhere near all of it but does anyone have any tips or ideas of the bits we'd appreciate best? I was thinking 3x 2night stops. We want to do Marlborough and the vineyards as DH and I might be able to escape to do some of them ourselves which we'd love. I was wondering whether Queenstown would be a good base for a couple of days, whether it's worth going to the glaciers with a small child as obviously won't be able to be climbing anything and which of the ridiculously beautiful lakes is an absolute can't miss? Thanks.
Tricky - but at least you are near enough to go back!
The marlborough sounds are lovely - im not into wine but i think you can do tours from bleinheim. Picton is a good little town with enough facilities and you can drive into the sounds from there.
If the glaciers are currently helicopter access only ( check) then i would forget those this time as the kid is too young.
I found queenstown a bit rowdy. Wanaka is beautifully set and not so bad for the gappie crowd. You could drive to queenstown and see arrowtown and the chinese settlement.
Or...stay at the top of the island and look towards abel tasman - motueka and takaka. Lovely scenery and better weather!
Nz is of course mostly about walking and scenery,you will have to leave a lot of it for now but have a look on doc.govt.nz for short walks that reward.
Thanks Special. Just booked the flights and we've managed to get 10 days. We're going to do as you suggested and just do the North of the South Island so we're not rushing around too much. Current plan is Kaikoura for a couple of nights, Blenheim and then either Nelson or somewhere nearby. I want to do somewhere in Abel Tasman too if possible but don't fancy a 6+hr drive back to Christchurch from there so haven't quite figured out a proper itinerary. If anyone has any more advice it would be gladly taken!
I live here . 10 days is heaps of time for the top of the South Island. It's about 2.5 hrs from Christchurch to Kaikoura, then maybe 2 from there to Blehneim (and the wineries). What do you like other than wine? Scenery & nature aplenty.
You could go from Blenheim to Nelson (very bendy road), then from there to the Abel Tasman (Kaiteriteri is a nice little town, with Marahau is right next to the national park - you can walk in from there). Nice pizza at the start of the track... There are water taxis that can take you in & drop you off if you want a longer walk - either out of the park or to another taxi stop.
You could go from there over to Westport (little bit of doubling back) and down from there to Greymouth. Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks is in between). There's a great seal colony near Westport. Then south if you want (glaciers), or a small double-back and through Arthur's Pass back to Christchurch. Lake Matheson (the lake with the view of Mt Cook) is nice in good conditions. The forest on the west coast is called rain forest for a reason though . There are lots of other forest walks near both Fox Glacier & Franz Josef if that's your thing. Nice hot pools in Franz!
Distances are not insignificant & roads nothing like the UK... Queenstown to CHCH without stopping (and you would want to stop) takes about 6 hrs. Arrowtown is lovely - and has a child-friendly miners' settlement that is good fun with kids. Driving from the top of the S Island to QTN would take you quite a long time though!
There is a LOT of scenery... The road from CHCH - Kaikoura is spectacular in places, as are sections of the road on the west coast.
Just N of Kaikoura is an amazing walk into the bush - a stream where baby seals go to play. Loads of them, depending on the time of year. Playing in pools right next to the path you walk on.
DOC (Dept of Conservation) as mentioned above do a great little scheme for kids in national parks Kiwi Rangers but your DD may be too young? We did some when my DD was 5. About really getting touch with nature (taking shoes off & standing in moss; art activities; i-spy and similar).
If you do do the drive from Nelson back to CHCH (rather than going to the West Coast), Lewis Pass is a bit quicker & you could divert to Hanmer Springs...
South of CHCH - Oamaru = steam punk capital of somewhere. Old Victorian quarter. Also there's a penguin colony there where hundreds of penguins appear as if by clockwork in the evening (town has many 'caution penguins crossing' signs...).
Am sure there's more... this is long enough for now though!
Visit Westport. A great coal mining museum, fabulous cafes, beautiful beaches with one man and a dog somewhere in the distance 2km away, good aquatic centre if it rains. Walk the Charming Creek (see DOC in Russell St), visit the seal colony and you must read Denniston Rose before you go and then go up to the Denniston plateau. All doable with the 3 year old. Stay a night or two and drive down to Punakaiki. The drive is truely fabulous, one of the best. Wild scenery.
Someone else loves westport! All the above, and if you have the.energy, it is 90 mins to the end of the road at karamea and the oparara caves.
I have done the north of the south island and did the following over 2 weeks:
started in Nelson - great wineries, nice town and you can visit the official centre point of NZ
we then drove to the Golden Bay area - stayed in Ligar bay and visited collingwood and farewell spit and saw lots of seals
Drove back to Picton via Nelson lakes national park and a brief stop in St Arnaud.
After Picton we spent a couple of days in Kaikoura - whale watching and also lots of seals there.
Finally drove back to Blenheim and flew from there back to Auckland.
Hope some of the above is useful.
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