a VirtualTourist member from Plano
We will be visiting New Zealand for a family wedding in Auckland in April. This is our first visit and we'll only have 6 days on the South Island. There seems to be so much to see, so we're trying to narrow our choices to what is unique and/or particularly spectacular! So far we've decided to spend 2 nights in Te Anau either side of an overnight cruise on the Milford Sound. That way we can fit in a couple of 3 - 4 hour hikes in the area (off the Milford Rd). Then we'll finish with a day and a night in Queenstown before we fly out. We're wondering if April is a good time to see the penguins and albatrosses on the Otago peninsular, in which case we would fly into Dunedin and spend a night there before driving to Te Anau. Or should we spend a night in Mt. Cook Village and do some more hiking? We love hiking and mountains, but we would also welcome the opportunity to experience some of the region's unique wildlife. Any advice would be appreciated.
The Otago Peninsula is definitely worth a visit - not just for the birds but also the interesting Disappearing Gun Fort near the Albatross Centre at Taiaroa Head and pretty little Lanarch castle.
Here's the latest news on what is happening out on the Head-
Otago Peninsula or Mt. Cook National Park/Lake Tekapo is the question. Green rolling hills with lots of wildlife versus dramatic alpine landscape. Short pleasant walks versus real hikes in alpine landscape, to glacier lakes and floating icebergs.
I cannot give you this answer, as I love both options.
Both destinations are not far from Queenstown, so distance is no issue.
Otago Peninsula would be a completely different scenery, as you have alpine landscape aplenty in Queenstown and around Milford Sound. And the wildlife is really unique. There is no region in NZ with such a big variety of wildlife, starting with penguins and the albatross colony which is very interesting in April, as the chicks are still young and their parents are around. (There is even a couple of females raising a chick this year ;-)
There are also NZ fur seals, sea lions, two huge inlets with a great variety of sea and wading birds.
And apart from the wildlife there are lonesome magic beaches with big dunes (Sandfly Bay). Stay at Allan's Beach Farm Stay, and you have paradise at your doorstep.
Ok, ok, I think I have just told you to choose Otago Peninsula LOL
But really: Mt. Cook National Park is as fabulous, just different. And you would drive over wonderful Lindis Pass, could make a little detour to the Clay Cliffs near Omarama, stop at the historic Cardrona Hotel on the way, and at Lake Wanaka, until you finally reach those marvellous Lakes Pukaki and Tekapo. An Air Safari there would top it all...
Now it is up to you to make a decision.
Thank you for the replies and advice. Kakapo2, you have helped us make the decision to fly into Dunedin. We don't know when we'll get back to NZ, so the opportunity to see the wildlife is too good to miss! Due to our time constraints, we will probably join a wildlife tour/cruise. Elm Wildlife Tours is well reviewed.
We might have time after Dunedin to drive over the Lindis Pass and see Lake Wanaka on our way to Te Anau or Queenstown, but we'd prefer not to spend all our time driving.
Again Thanks - I can't wait to see a little of your beautiful country!
Yes, you cannot go wrong with Elm Wildlife Tours. I have never heard a negative comment about them.
But if you have any time left, just try to get to Sandfly Bay, the dunes are spectacular, and if you are lucky you can see sea lions there. There are less than 100 in New Zealand. On my last visit I have seen three adults and a pup.
If you are going to do a cruise in the fiordlands, Id recommend doubtful sound over milford sound. Its much more scenic and isolated. Milford sound has the classic mountain seen on all the postcards, but other than to say "I saw that", doubtful sound has so much more going for it.
Unless you happen to be flying out of queenstown, or are seeking some adrenaline rushes, Id say avoid it. Its a way over developed tourist town thats lost its charm. It does have some nice hiking around the area, but with all the other places you plan to see/hike, you wont be missing anything special.