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South Island Travel Answers

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · August 24, 2013
Help with itinerary  (7 Answers)

Dear All,

My friend and I are arriving at Christchurch on 29th August evening. We will probably be starting our tour of south island from 30th morning. Our return flight is from Christchurch on Sep 7 (evening). This gives us 8 whole days. We want to cover Queenstown (for skydiving, bungy etc), Franz josef, Milford sound, Abel tasman park. Is there any other place we should cover?

Can you kindly help me out with the itinerary? Help much appreciated. Thanks.

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · February 17, 2013
South Island April 7th to 15th  (2 Answers)

Hi Everyone, I am heading from the US to Auckland April 7th with planned departure of April 15th. I figured with the limited time and research I have done thus far, I should focus on South Island. I was wondering if you all could help me with an itinerary. It seems that there are a god few out there but sifting through everything is getting a bit confusing. I would appreciate any and all suggestions. My friends and I (resident physicians) have busy schedules and no one has taken the lead so far with time quickly approaching! In regards to getting to the South Island, I have found roundtrip tix from Auckland to Christchurch for $120 on jetstar. How reliable is this and how much time should I give myself in between flights? I realize Air New Zealand may be a more reliable route but there is a $300 price difference and we are all on a budget. I appreciate everyone's help in advance!

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · January 22, 2013
itinerary help  (2 Answers)

we will be traving to south island from oct 23 through nov 26, 2013 and would like itinerary suggestions. we are in our late 50's and plan to charter a sailboat in marlborough sound for 5-7 days then kayak out of nelson area for several days and finally we would like to do a trek somewhere for several days. any suggestions would be very welcome.

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · January 22, 2013
flights to south island  (7 Answers)

my husband and i will be traveling from east coast of us to south island oct, 2013. we are in late 50's and wondering if worth extra money for mid-range air new zealand flights. would appreciate hearing from anyone who has taken this trip and suggestions for making it tolerable.

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · January 18, 2013
Itinerary & Car Hire Advice, please!  (4 Answers)

We're spending two weeks taking a leisurely tour around the the southern half of South Island. We've booked return flights to Queenstown.

So far we've booked 3 nights in Queenstown then 4 nights in Te Anau & exploring the fiords, glow worm cave etc.

We haven't decided exactly on the second week. Our draft itinerary is to drive from Te Anau down to Dunedin (via Stirling or is there a better way?) → Lake Tekapo → Lake Pukaki → Cromwell (& visit wineries) → Queenstown (maybe for 1 night?) & catch the afternoon flight home.

Also, can you recommend a good car rental company in Queenstown?

Your suggestions on stopovers and/ better options are most appreciated!

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · January 05, 2013
Going to NZ with husband and 1 year old in early Feb  (3 Answers)


my husband, our 1 year old baby and I are going to be in New Zealand for 15 days. The first few days we will be in Aukland with family. We would like to visit Rotorua and maybe the Waitomo Cace (glow worm cave). Afterward we would like to go to the South Island. We have 10 days on the South Island. I was thinking of flying to Queenstown, stay there for 2 days, then visit Fiordland Natinal Park and Mount Cook.

1a) How many days should we stay at Fiordland, it seems quite big?

1b) I read that driving there from Queenstown is not recommended. There are a lot of buses that go there. But if we take the bus, is it easy to get around there by foot/public transportation?

1c) How much does a scenic flight cost for Fiordland?

2) Is 10 days for those three locations in the South too long? We want to rent a car and stay at hotels/motels.

3) A lot of people posted the Glacier and Franz Joseph but we won't be able to do that with our baby. Any other recommendable places to go to with a baby? We like nature and walking. Though the walks can't be too long, 2-3h is ok.

4) Should we fly back to Aukland from Christchurch or Queenstown?

I look forward to your replies.

Many thanks,


Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · January 01, 2013
South island trip plan for help!  (1 Answer)


I just ordered the flight and made a skeleton plan. With two kids,My focus is leisure, animal and photography.Here is the Itinerary. And I have follow questions:

1.does it necessary stay at hokitika? Is it hurry from christchurch direct to FOX?if it is possible,I want to stay at tekapo one day more.

2.Is Fox 'shelihike really Good? at cook take Helihike OK?

3.From HongKong to Auckland Arrive at 7:30 AM,book Flight at 10:30am from Auckland to christchurch, OK?

4.Could anybody give me some recommendation about scenery along the trip?


Day 1: 2013.2.4 - from HongKong to Auckland

Day 2: arrive at CC

south newbrighton park sunset

Day 3:through arthur's pass to hokitika,settle at hokitika. Goto pancake rockand Glow Worm Dell.

Day 4: To FOX town,lake matheson sunset.

helihike to glacier.

Day 5: to wanaka,eely point track,beacon point .settle wanaka.

Day 6 :to queens town,settle queenstown.visit arrowtown,lake hayes,wakatipu heights .

Day 7: visit deer park and lake wakatipu.

Day 8:visit paradise and lake diamond

Day 9: to dunedin

through cromwell,take elm wildlife tour

Day 10: to tekapo ,visit moeraki boulders and lake pukaki。

Day 11: at tekapo .

Day 12: through 72 Road back to CC

Day 13: From christchurch Through auckland Go home.

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · December 23, 2012
Traveling by car in South Island  (6 Answers)

We have never traveled on the left side of the road before. My husband and I decided to drive on our own and I would like some advice from those of you who have driven in New Zealand before. Our itinerary includes driving from Christchurch to Mt. Cook, Mt. Cook to Queenstown, Queenstown to Franz Joseph Glacier, and back, Queenstown to Te Anau, Te Anau to Dunedin, and Dunedin to Arrowtown.

Are we best off leaving very early? How often should we stop and take a break? How can we avoid problems with driving on the other side of the road? Karen Kohn

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · November 18, 2012
24 Days on South Island a sensible itinerary  (8 Answers)

I am planning a 24 day car trip round South Island starting at the beginning of January 2013. I have been advised to book accommodation ahead, at least at the start of the month and have done so. However, we do not want to be stuck to dates too much, at least after the first 7 days and wonder what experience others have had in South Island in January when trying to book somewhere to stay (budget accommodation or mid-price on the whole suits us) c 2 days ahead?

Also, our rough itinerary so far is:
Day 01 Ferry to Picton Picton (1)
Day 02 Blenheim
Day 03 Nelson
Day 04 Abel Tasman NP (
Day 05 Abel Tasman NP
Day 06 Punaikiki
Day 07 Punaikiki
Day 08 Fox Glacier
Day 09 Franz Joseph Glacier
Day 10 Franz Joseph Glacier
Day 11 Haast/Waukaka
Day 12 Wanaka Wanaka - Milford Sound
Day 13 Manapauri & Wilmot Pass to Doubtful Sound
Day 14 Doubtful Sound
Day 15 Invercargill
Day 16 Catlins Coast
Day 17 Catlins Coast
Day 18 Dunedin
Day 19 Oamaru
Day 20 Spare day
Day 21 Spare day
Day 22 Kaikura
Day 23 Christchurch
Day 24 Leave NZ

and I wonder what people think of it? We will mainly be looking at scenery and will not want to do long walks. We want to do both Milford and Doubtful Sounds if we can. :We have given ourselves some two-day stays and 2 spare days towards the end to give us some slippage time. We are not keen on staying in Queenstown. Help on the Fox to Dunedin leg of the trip would be particularly helpful as we are fiunding it hard to visualise.

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · September 23, 2012

We are staying one full day in fox glacier.We are planing as below:
Lake matheson tour (6 am to 10 am )
Fox glacier 30 mins helicopter tour (11 am to 12 pm )
Franz joseph half day tour from (2 pm to 5 pm)
Please tell us above plan is suitable for one day as we have 5 yrs old child with us.
If yes, which tour operator is good for above tours.
If No,Please suggest other plans.
thanks and regards

Read more:

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · September 03, 2012
New Zealand trip  (2 Answers)

Hi fellows, I’ll plan a trip in New Zealand between 28-th of December 2012 and 12-nd of January 2013.
After 3-4 days in the Northern Island, we’ll go in the Southern Island for 10 days.
We want to rent cars and go around the island.
Can you suggest me some places that we shouldn’t miss?
How is the trip in Stewart Island? It is enough to see some interesting places for 1 day trip?
Any advice will be highly appreciated.
Thank you in advance for your kind replies.

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · August 26, 2012
South Island campervanning  (4 Answers)

Myself and my 18 year old son and 14 year old daughter are flying into Christchurch early December for 16 days. We have booked a campervan for two weeks and then we are flying back out of Christchurch. I have been doing lots of web searching and just trying to figure out the best route around the south island. Maybe thinking of going north first thru Hamner Springs on to Kauikura and then maybe over to Greymouth and then south. Should we go more north to Picton, Blenheim, Nelson etc or just cut straight across and spend more time going further south. Any ideas would be hugely appreciated.........very confused as there seems to be so much stuff and dont wont to miss anything amazing. Btw we arent all that interested in bungeeing etc but we do love the beach and sea animals, cheers,

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · May 31, 2012
Transalpine Train Vs Drive to Christchurch in September  (2 Answers)

Hi Everyone,

I was reading through the forum on the trans alpine train and am yet unable to decide as to what i should be doing.
We are a group of 10 adults driving through most of south new zealand in the from the 14-09-12 to 29-09-12. We were planning to drop off our vehicle at Greymouth and taking the train ride back to Christchurch.

Want to decide if we should drive our take the train
1) Is the drive safe
2) do you think it will be snowing and will that make the drive more difficult?
3) Well economically it makes more sense for us to drive. Cause even if we get discounted fares of say NZD 100 we will be spending NZD 1000 on the train ride add to that the premium we might have to pay to the rental car company for picking up the car at christchurch and dropping off at greymouth.

But is it feasible and whats a better option in mid sept more like end of Sept.


Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · May 28, 2012
South Island 12 day Itinerary help  (9 Answers)

Hi All,
We are a group of 10 adults planning to tour South Island NZ for 12 days. I have done some research and planned the following trip. We are planning a budget trip so are ok with hostel type accomodation.

Day 1: Arrive at christchurch (stay the night at christchurch)
Day 2: Drive to Tekapo and Aoraki/Mt Cook
Day 3: Explore around Mt.Cook & Lake Tekapo
Day 4: Drive to Queenstown (Night at queenstown)
Day 5: Queenstown (activities like shot get, bungee etc)
Day 6: Queenstown - Teanau (night in teanau)
Day 7: Goto Milford Sound and do the cruise and leave for wanakaka
Day 8: Lake Wanakaka - Fox & Fanx Josef Glacier (night at fox & fanx)
Day 9: Fox & Fanx Josef Glacier (night at fox & fanx)
Day 10: Fox & Fanx Josef Glacier - Punakaiki (night at punakaki)
Day 11: Punakaiki to Abel Tasman (night at abel tasman)
Day 12: Abel Tasman - Greymouth to catch the Trans Scenic train to Christchurch (night at christchurch)
Day 13: Fly out

Some questions:
1)Is this tour feasible in the number of days and are we missing on anything?
2)Can we rent a vehicle at say Christchurch and drop it off at Greymouth?
3) How will September 2nd week & 3rd week be for travel?
3) Is it safe to drive to milford sound are the roads really dangerous? We have never driven in snow...
4)If we are running short of time what should we choose between doing Abel Tasman or taking the trans scenic alpine train?
5) Is it possible to rent the car at christchurch and drop it off at Greymouth?
6) what should we budget in terms of costs

Please feel free to tell us if we are missing on something that is really beautiful and worth a visit cause we may never have the opportunity to visit the beautiful south island again.


Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · May 26, 2012
What to Wear in Early - Mid November  (33 Answers)


We will be visiting Otago Peninsula, Catlins, Queenstown/Arrowtown (plus Milford Sound), Wanaka (plus heli flight with snow landing), Mount Cook, Lake Tekapo and Christchurch. Outdoors most of the time, including 4WD tours and soft adventures. No serious tramping.

I have been asking outdoor cold wear shops in Singapore, but have received very conflicting advice on what to wear. So I thought maybe the locals can help me out?

Would the following outfit be suitable?

Base: Cotton T-shirt
Middle: Wool mix/cashmere/light fleece sweater
Outer: Wind and water resistant shell

Nighttime (15-20min stroll from restaurant back to accomodation, penguin viewing in Curio Bay, sunset photography, Earth & Sky tours in Lake Tekapo)
Base: Thermal (+ Cotton T-shirt?)
Middle: Wool mix/cashmere/light fleece sweater
Outer: Wind and water proof softshell jacket

I have already made my purchases, but became a little concerned when one shop told me that a down jacket is a "must", and that softshells are only for higher temperature range.

On the other hand, another shop assured me that my daughter will be warm enough with thermals, fleece and a thin windproof shell (even at night). (That was after I couldn't find a suitable softshell jacket for her.)

Comments and advice will be very appreciated!

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · April 22, 2012
Mobile Network Operator  (8 Answers)

Hi. I have an unlocked iPhone 4 and intend to buy a prepaid sim card for calls within NZ (accomodation, activity operators), data roaming (check weather, road conditions) and occasional call back home. As we are touring Catlins and most of our accommodations in SI are not in major cities (5-10 min drive from small towns), I am wondering which operator will provide better coverage (cost not topmost priority). Can sim card purchases be activated and topped up immediately? Some operators have online purchase facility, I'm wondering if it's possible for overseas visitors to use this (sim card to be delivered to hotel/b&b). Anyone tried before? Thanks a million.

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · March 18, 2012
Glaciers or Kayak  (2 Answers)

I have limited time and am on a strict bus route. a half day glacier hike in Franz Josef to allow for extra time in Queenstown? The extra time in Queenstown would allow for a full day kayak tour of Milford Sound.

So i guess my questions are: Is the half day glacier hike much different than the full day hike? Is it worth it to kayak or Milford Sound or is it better to take a boat cruise? And, are there other good, scenic places to kayak in the South Island?
Any recommendations are helpful!!!

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · March 04, 2012
car hire advice  (2 Answers)

We are travelling for 3 weeks in S island from 1st April - party of 4 adults- flying in and out of Christchurch.

Originally thought camper van - as flexible and includes accommodation.
Now thinking car would be best and hostel / motel accom.
Enjoyed "high up" people carrier type car when in Canada - so thought this would be good for NZ.

Love to have advice on type of vehicle and any recommended companies.

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · March 03, 2012
Christchurch NZ  (2 Answers)

Could you please tell me what you think is the best way to see the South Island. We are a family of five , very active and ages 17, 19, 21, 49, 55. we looked at Active New Zealand, But now we wanted to know if you think we should rent a car on our own and plan a 14 day trip which includes hiking , rafting, biking site-seeing. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · February 03, 2012
SOuth island itninerary  (2 Answers)

Is this too ambitious? Are we missing anything? makes sense to drive from queenstown to milford sound and stay there vs te anu

14-Mar Arrive in Christchurch
15-Mar Christchurch to Franz Joseph
16-Mar Franz Joseph, drive to Wanaka
17-Mar Wanaka day hikes, drives to queenstown,
18-Mar Queenstown and Routeburn Hikes
19-Mar Handgliding and drive to milford sound
20-Mar milford sound cruise, key summit, queenstown
21-Mar Queenstown flight

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · February 01, 2012
So many questions about south island  (1 Answer)

I have several questions about my trip in march.

In the south island we will be starting the christchurst and driving to the glaciers to start. We have 7 days from christchurch to needing to fly out from queenstown, and will have a car.

I would like to do mostly day hikes 4-5 hours in the following (ie day out and back)
Milford Trail
Mount Cook

I am not quite sure how to incorporate these hikes since i don't know driving distances, and where it makes sense to stay before and after in terms of cities. Do you stay in queenstown, te anu, wanaka?

Where exactly does the routeburn trail start - like where would you stay/park a car.

Can you drive to Milford trail or do you need a boat?

Which day hikes makes most sense.


Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · September 09, 2011
Weather forcast from October 23 to Nov. 1, 2011  (11 Answers)

We will be in South Island, New Zealand from Oct 23 to 1 Nov.2011. We will be visiting Christchurch, Lake Tekapo, Queenstown, Te Anau, Milford Sound, Wanaka, and Fox Glazier. As we are from Malaysia, a hot and humid country, we are a bit worried about the weather condition during the above mentioned dates. We really appreciate, if someone can tell us, the normal/average temperature especially at Milford Sound and Fox Glazier so that we can get ready with proper clothing.


Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · May 04, 2011
Travelling in South Island  (13 Answers)

30 of us, traveling by campervan, will be in South Island from 23rd. Oct - 1st Nov. 2011. We will be visiting Christchurch, Queenstown, M Sound & Fox Glazier and back to Christchurch. I had been there before, except in Milford Sound and Fox Glazier. My questions :-
1)Is it practical for us to go from Dunedin to Fox Glazier, a distance of more than 500 km in a day? Or we skip Dunedin after Milford Sound, and go back to Queenstown and stay there overnight before departing to Fox Glazier the next day? Though we love to visit Dunedin, but maybe the journey form there to Fox Glazier is too far and too tiring for our group of 30? Please advice
2) We estimated, we will be traveling around 2500 km using the 6 sitter campervan, how much will be the approximate cost of petrol for that distance ?
3) Some of us,probably 10 out of 30, will not be sleeping in the campervan at the campsite. Is there enough rooms for rental for 10 of us in most of the campsite? Do we need to make an advance booking or just walk in when we arrived? What is the average cost of a room for 2 persons at the campsite?

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · April 22, 2011
Holidaying in July  (5 Answers)

We are planning a 12 day touring ( in a campervan, would you believe it!)holiday in July and would like some advise.

Firstly are there many caravan parks to choose from and if so...any recommendations?

We would like to go to the Marlborough region so has anyone any advise about what to see and do and where to eat and more importantly drink.

So far our only destinations are the Marlborough region and Queenstown...any suggestions?

Any advise or tips are most welcome...

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · April 09, 2011
Absolute Best Time to Visit  (3 Answers)

My husband and I are planning a month-long trip to the south island. We are interested in hiking and biking. What would be the best month to visit?

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · November 12, 2010
Renting a motorhome in NZ South  (3 Answers)

HI There, My husband and I are going to New Zealand in March for 25 days South Island and are looking to rent a 4 berth motor home for about4000 NZD including ins and extras. Having a hard time finding that price range Can anybody give me advice or their experience w/ companies for this adventure Thank You, Natalie

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · November 07, 2010
Short hikes on South Island.  (4 Answers)

Hi, can anyone give me details of their favourite short hikes on the South Island. I know that there are thousands to choose from but I would welcome details of anyones particular favourites. Anything from a few minutes up to 3 or 4 hours would be suitable The route that we are covering on our visit includes Christchurch, Hokatika, Franz Josef, Wanaka, Te Anau, Queenstown & Lake Tekapo.

Any help would be much appreciated.


Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · November 07, 2010
Best location for a Haka / Maori show.  (6 Answers)

Hi, can anyone give me suggestions for the best location for a Haka / Maori show. Suitable locations along our way include Christchurch, Hokatika, Franz Josef, Wanaka, Te Anau, Queenstown & Lake Tekapo.

Any help would be much appreciated.


Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · November 05, 2010
Currency/Money/Travellers Cheques  (13 Answers)

Hi All,

Spending 7 days touring Lake Wanaka/Queenstown area in mid November. What is the best way to carry funds. Convert to NZ$ in AU prior, travellers cheques, or a Cash Passport?

Thank you.

Q   a VirtualTourist member asked a question · October 22, 2010
Routeburn and Greenstone tracks in November  (5 Answers)


I am planning to tramp Routeburn track over three days starting 11th November and continuing on Greenstone track for another three days, ending my trek at Greenstone station on 16th November.

I plan to stay at Routeburn flats campsite, Lake Mackenzie campsite, Lake Howden campsite on Routeburn track and McKellar and GreenStone huts on Greenstone track.

I have read on several informative sites and forums about the weather and that it can change anytime. However, I could not find much information about general weather during November. Is it advisable to do these tracks in mid November?

Numerous websites mention that the rivers can swell after heavy rains. How deep is the water under normal conditions and how deep can they get after rains? The main reason I want to know this is because I cannot swim (I know it is lame :P).
I'll definitely wait it out if the river is high, but can I cross the rivers under normal conditions?

Also, would you recommend using trekking poles on the tracks? I have never used them, but lot of people have advised me to use them in the mountains.

I appreciate your help in this regards.

Best regards,

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