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Author Topic: Two weeks on south island of New Zealand --where to concentrate efforts?  (Read 6689 times)
cwood
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« on: January 06, 2012, 09:46:10 AM »
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My wife and I are spending  barely two weeks in New Zealand starting March 1st.  I'm aware that two weeks barely scratches the surface in terms of sightseeing and photography. For that reason we've decided to not spend any significant time on the north island and once arriving in Auckland, depart the same day for Christchurch by air, rent a vehicle, spend a day or so at Christchurch recovering from the long flight, and work our way south on the west coast. With a one way rental, we will drop the car in Queenstown and return to Auckland for the flight back to the US.

Is this a reasonable approach? Is there any reason I should consider allotting time on the north island rather than on a later return trip to NZ and Australia? FWIW, my wife is not a trekker and because of our time limitation, I've ruled out any multiday treks.

What would your short list of 5-7 locations be on the west coast to properly see and photograph over a 11-12 day period, weather notwithstanding?

Thanks to any that can provide suggestions.

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Josh-H
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« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2012, 03:42:29 PM »
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You should hit:

Moeraki Boulders
Fox Glacier
Franz Josef Glacier
Gillespies Beach
Milford Sound
Punakaiki
Mount Cook

These are probably the big ones in the South Island - the icons if you will.  You could do all of these inside two weeks easily. I have been to NZ many times and now go at least once a year just for photography. There are many posts on my blog about other places as well.

I probably wouldn't bother with the North if you are going strictly for landscape photography. The South Island is really where NZ is at its best.

You will have a ball. NZ is amazing.
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degrub
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« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2012, 04:34:44 PM »
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Try a small plane flight from Queenstown out to Milford Sound - it will save you the drive from there to Te Anu and out to the sound and back. Some car rentals will exclude you from driving out on the road to the sound as it can be a bit hazardous to the car. The view as you fly over the mountains is spectacular if you get good weather.  i think there is also a cruise of the sound as well that is pleasant. There were also helicopter flights to the two glaciers.

i don't know if the Albatross are nesting now, but there is a preserve off Dunedin that is worth the drive if they are.
www.albatross.org.nz

We spent 17days and visited many places on both islands by car. The north end of North Island is scenic and not too long a drive from Auckland. See this site for some details -
http://www.viator.com/Bay-of-Islands-attractions/Cape-Reinga/d755-a2363

 There are some other areas on the Coromandel penninsula, and the Bay of islands that are worth visiting as well.

So if you can get back, North Island is definitely worth the visit. But don't spend all the time driving.
Are you car camping ? Places to stay on the west coast are not too many and a ways apart, plus it is the end of summer.
Frank

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kevk
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« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2012, 05:22:14 PM »
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I agree with Josh 100%, South Island of NZ is a great place.
One of my favourites is the Archway Islands in the far north-west of the south island, especially when the fur seal pups are in a group in the rock pools where an island meets the beach.

Kevin
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stever
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« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2012, 11:10:00 PM »
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also agree about S Island, although this mean bypassing Napier and Opossum World

if the weather is right you can play with the dolphins at Kaikoura, and if you stay the night, you may be able to arrange an opossum hunt. if you have time, going all the way down to Invercargill is interesting - the tuatarium is very nice

the Central Otago Pinot Noirs are wonderful - Peregrine, Mt. Difficulty ...
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Josh-H
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« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2012, 02:07:34 AM »
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Yes I forgot to mention Kaikoura - a must stop destination in the South Island. Great for Sea Lions, Sperm Whales and amazing sunrises with the Northwestern arch cloud formations.
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cwood
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« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2012, 01:52:43 PM »
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Thanks all!

Some decisions to make but it certainly looks like the makings of worthwhile two weeks.

Charles
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JNHenry
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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2012, 03:48:02 PM »
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All good suggestions.  I would also add the Marlborough Sounds regions, located at the top of the South Island (Picton, Haveloc, Queen Charlotte track area).  I think it is absolutely gorgeous.

One thing to consider would be to fly into Wellington, instead of Christchurch, and recover from the jet lag there.  Then, take the ferry across the Cook Strait right into Picton and pick up your rental car there.  Then, begin driving down either the east or west side of the South Island, and at the end of the two weeks return the car to the ferry terminal.  This would probably cost as much as a one-way rental, and would give you the Cook crossing. 

Also, I was in Christchurch about a month ago, and honestly I'd skip it.  There is a lack of hotels, and not much to see now that the downtown area is closed (think it just reopened for tourists to visit, but there is nothing to see except devastation).  Also, while I'll hit Milford sound next time I'm there, I opted for Doubtful South my first time.  It is bigger, deeper, and has fewer people visiting it, even though it is the same distance from Queenstown.  I second the idea of doing a plane or helicopter ride to the sounds, be be prepared with an alternative means to get there (e.g. car or tour bus) as frequently the flights are cancelled due to weather.

I've got several pictures from the South Island on my site, www.pixelsandgrain.co/galleries/newzealand  Any more questions, shoot me an email.

Cheers,

Jeff
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stever
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« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2012, 05:59:38 PM »
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Christchurch has an interesting museum, aside from that i agree with JNHenry.  Doubtful Sound is certainly worth considering.
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degrub
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« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2012, 07:25:35 PM »
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i second the idea of taking the ferry across. There is a train called the Overlander that runs from the airport to Wellington.

http://www.travelink.co.nz/nz/Overlandertimes.html

Depending on when you get in, it may be a good alternative.
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DaveCurtis
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« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2012, 12:57:53 AM »
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The West Coast is a good option for short (20 mintute) walks through the rain forest. Easy walking, well sign posted from the main road and good photo ops.
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tom b
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« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2012, 10:46:12 PM »
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There was a previous thread on the South Island here.

From the thread:
Cape Foulwind and the Grey Coast are a hidden treasure and the coastline at Omau is great if you can get there at low tide. Ask at the pub for directions or use google maps. Greymouth is where they had the recent mine tragedy and I'm sure they would be happy to have tourists visiting the area. Images of the area are here:

http://www.tombrown.id.au/travel2/grey_coast/album/index.html and here:

http://www.tombrown.id.au/travel2/cape_foulwind/album/index.html

Oh, don't forget some good wet weather gear and some warm clothes.

Cheers,
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David Sutton
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« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2012, 08:35:01 PM »
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http://www.lonelyplanet.com/new-zealand/christchurch-and-canterbury/christchurch/travel-tips-and-articles/76957
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David Sutton
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« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2012, 01:37:37 AM »
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http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/wellington-airport-named-one-world-s-scariest-landings-4683330
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David Watson
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« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2012, 07:00:50 AM »
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In addition to the ideas already suggested I would add the following:

Hire a 4x4 and drive up the Nevis Valley (4x4 only).  It runs from the Queenstown area.
Hire a Robinson helicopter on an exclusive use basis from Overthetop helicopters in Queenstown and ask to be taken up into the mountains to land on top of a glacier and on top of the Sutherland Falls.  The Robinson is good to take aeriel shots from as it has a plexiglass bubble.  If you have a lens with image stabilisation you can take sharp photographs with the lens held close to the plexiglass.

BTW I agree give Christchurch a miss.

Photos attached - the ones with the glacial pools were taken from the helicopter
« Last Edit: January 11, 2012, 07:07:23 AM by David Watson » Logged

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stevenf
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« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2012, 03:08:52 PM »
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I have attached four panoramic images (Horseman 617 Camera, Velvia 50 Film) from the South Island. My favourite areas include south of Haast, West or Riverton, Wanaka, Kaikoura and the area before Milford Sound. I have been to the South Island three times in the last 7 years.

I have many more images if you want me to post them or I can list them from my website for you.

Steven

http://www.friedmanphoto.com 
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stingray
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« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2012, 12:32:41 PM »
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I live in Dublin, Ireland  and have just come back from a 2 week trip to the South Island.

A lot depends on what type of accomodation you will be using. For hotels / motels you will need to base yourselves in the larger towns. For campsites, trailer , etc,,,, the options grow exponentially.

I arrived in Christchurch.... stayed beside the park for 2 nights.  I would have been better (reduce travel) to arrive in Queenstown.  I wanted to stay in an urban environment for 2-3 days, to get familiar with New Zealand, recover from jet lag, organise mobile phones, maps, generally climatise.

If staying in Christchurch, Lyttelton Harbour is just South of Christchurch.  I got some spectacular dawn shots from the ridge on the northern side of this large fyord like inlet.  (see link below).  You should drive this road during the day and use it to plan a dawn / sunset shoot if staying in Christchurch.

I constantly underestimated how long it took me to travel from point a to point b.  The roads between major towns are good (not motorway), but if I estimated 2 hours it usually took 4.  You may end up driving on a lot of unsurfaced roads.  Most roads down to lakes and campsites are unsurfaced. You will get used to driving on these and finding the right speed. You will also recognise when an unsurfaced road is just too challenging. I found the Lonely Planet book to be extremely useful.

If possible, base yourself in Milton Sound for 2-3 days.  It is 70 to 80 km/miles from Te Anua to Milton Sound.  The closer you get to Milton Sound the more spectacular the locations.  It is much easier to base yourself in Milton Sound than Te Anau and driving long distances to get to the choice locations.  Accomodation is limited and difficult to get in Milton Sound, so I would get this reserved and then schedule other trips around that.  There are loads of campsites between Milton Sound and Te Anua, but almost no hotels..so plan in detail (and in advance) your accomodation needs while in this area.

Good places also as bases are Te Anau, Queenstown and Wanaka. Study the main roads of the island carefully. Recognise that Milton Sound is at the end of a very long cul de sac.  A really beautiful cul de sac.

I travelled 3500 kms in the 2 weeks while I was there.  I did not have time to visit lots of locations I would have liked to. My conclusion was that for a quick tour you need a min of 3 weeks.  However, you can do an awful lot in 2 weeks.  I think quality time in fewer locations will be better than trying to get to all the landmark sites.

Here is a link to a few of my images taken on pbase.   http://www.pbase.com/gnits/nz 

I am more than happy to answer any specific questions you might have.

Enjoy your trip.
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