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1st try @ a South Island 2 week itinerary

SF Bay Area
Level Contributor
103 posts
31 reviews
1st try @ a South Island 2 week itinerary

We're planning a trip to NZ's South Island in late March/early April. We have 15 nights total there, and we're flying from the USA. We love nature, easy to light-intermediate hiking, kayaking, coastal towns and small towns in general. We're not into big cities, although some can be fun (Paris! Buenos Aires!). We'll be renting a car, and have a UK-trained driver used to the "other" side of the road, but we still prefer not to drive more than 4-5 hours in a day if it can be avoided (longer with stops is OK).

Here we go with try #1 (here's where we'd spend the night):


Lake Tekapo/Mt Cook x 2


Te Anau x 5

Wakana x 2

Franz Josef x 2



We're planning a helicopter ride to the top of the Kepler trail, with a one day walk down, and a one-day Milford Sound kayak tour. We'd like to kayak somewhere else, or even standup paddle board if there's anywhere to do that (we're experienced SUPers). Thoughts? Suggestions? Too long in Te Anau area? I wanted to add more days to the trip total, but work doesn't allow it. Thanks in advance!

6 replies to this topic
New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
Level Contributor
30,690 posts
93 reviews
1. Re: 1st try @ a South Island 2 week itinerary

Most agree the scenery is best viewed when you travel the opposite direction - Arthur's Pass best west, Haast Pass best southward, Lindis Pass best heading north.

Kayak with icebergs Aoraki/Mt Cook?

SF Bay Area
Level Contributor
103 posts
31 reviews
2. Re: 1st try @ a South Island 2 week itinerary

Thanks for the tip & suggestion. Yes & yes!

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Fiji
Level Contributor
7,573 posts
290 reviews
3. Re: 1st try @ a South Island 2 week itinerary

Here is a standard 10 night loop. Just add extra days as required.Fox Glacier/Wanaka/Te Anau/Mt Cook etc.

1. Arr CHC

2. Drive to Hokitika via Arthurs Pass.

3. Drive to Hokitika Gorge then onto Fox Glacier

4. Morning view of Lake Matheson then drive to Wanaka

5 Drive to Te Anau (possible Glow worm caves in the afternoon.(2N)

6. Drive or Coach tour to Milford Sound for cruise

7. Drive to QTN (2N)

8. QTN activities

9. Drive to Mt Cook

10. Drive via Lake Tekapo, Rakaia Gorge and scenic Rd 72 to CHC

11. Fly home

Level Contributor
11,760 posts
72 reviews
4. Re: 1st try @ a South Island 2 week itinerary

I think 5 nights in Te Anau is overkill.

Your best option for SUP is at Abel Tasman - kayaking there too. There's also kayaking at Lake Wakatipu http://www.rippledearth.co.nz - it's at the Glenorchy end, which is in great contrast to Queenstown and the bonus of a beautiful drive to get there.

I know Southern Lakes Helicopters does a Luxmore Hut drop-off on the Kepler: https:/… -- They used to also advertise combining it with one of their scenic flights. It would be a shame not to fly over Doubtful Sound and do a landing at Campbell's Kingdom - it was magical! If interested, send them an email to arrange it.

Day 1 - arrive Christchurch

Day 2 - drive to Kaiteriteri (2)

Day 3 - kayak or SUP Abel Tasman

Day 4 - drive to Punakaiki

Day 5 - drive to FJG/Fox Glacier (2)

Day 6 - explore

Day 7 - drive to Wanaka

Day 8 - drive to Te Anau (3)

Day 9 - Heli - Kepler track

Day 10 - Milford Sound Kayak

Day 11 - drive to Queenstown (2)

Day 12 - Glenorchy kayak

Day 13 - drive to Mt Cook (2)

Day 14 - explore

Day 15 - Drive to Christchurch

Day 16 - fly out

Alternatively, you could spend 2 nights in Wanaka and one at Mt Cook. Or one night each and a night at Hanmer Springs to break up the long drive Christchurch-Kaiteriteri.

Edited: 12 June 2018, 20:36
SF Bay Area
Level Contributor
103 posts
31 reviews
5. Re: 1st try @ a South Island 2 week itinerary

Thanks again for all of the input. We haven't ruled out going north to Abel Tasman, but it does at many hours of driving to the trip, both heading that far up north and then back down again.

Regarding Te Anau, we were actually thinking of doing a Doubtful Sound overnight cruise on our last evening there, so technically it's not spending a 5th night (the cruises are out of nearby Manapouri). We also planned a kayak day on Milford Sound one day, and the helicopter Kepler hike another. Another day there could mean being able to do the Lake Marian track and more exploring. We could fit that into 3 days in Te Anau + 1 overnight on the cruise, rather than 5 nights, so I'll play with where we'd stick the extra day.

Hiking Franz Josef & Fox Glacier sounds great, and we should be able to do that in the 2 days allotted to that area. Kayaking in Glenorchy should be do-able on the day we're staying in Queenstown, I would think, or maybe we just stay in Glenorchy (we love small towns & villages).

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
107 posts
28 reviews
6. Re: 1st try @ a South Island 2 week itinerary

I've posted my itinerary here:


The things I would change:

- a night in Te Anau (not sure about 5 though... that seems like a lot)

- less time in Christchurch

- overnight in Hokitika or Punakaiki (I see you have Hokitika in your itinerary)

- more time on the Abel Tasman track - this was a highlight. Definitely do the kayak trip here!

- day trip to Hanmer springs

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