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Thread: Seeing the South Island

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Vermont, USA --> Wellington

    Default Seeing the South Island

    We're hoping to do a 7-10 day road trip around the South Island over Christmas break. I know there is heaps to see and do, so I thought I'd throw it to the crowd. If you had 7-10 days on the South Island with your partner and an 18-month-old, what would you do?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009


    I was going to start typing.., but then realised that I am not the right person to give advice in regards to the 18 months old.., but surely someine else will have some ideas!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Waimauku near Auckland


    Currently on the first stage of a 10 day trip around the South Island. We don't have an 18 month old to cater for, so please adjust the following accordingly:

    1. Fly to Christchurch. See the damage of the quakes and how Christchurch is coping.
    2. Train to Greymouth. Trip to brewery.
    3. Pick up hire car and drive to Franz Josef. See snow and ice for the first time in three years.
    4. Drive to Wanaka. Couple of days doing nothing by the lake.
    5. Drive to Queenstown. More days doing nothing. Side trip to Milford Sound
    6. Drive to Invercargill. Also visit Bluff. Tick box to say we've visited the most southerly point in New Zealand.
    7. Drive to Dunedin. Return car to hire company. Visit brewery, try a Dunedin Cheese Roll
    8. Return to Auckland and huge credit card bill!!!

    This will complete a holiday that we had fifteen years ago when we had planned to squeeze the above trip into a round-the-world holiday.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Auckland; Milwaukee, Surabaya


    Those plan is exactly what we are going to do this christmas however, some areas we are visiting is different. But pretty much the same idea as land in Chch, drive West to Franz Josef, go straight to Queenstown area, day trip to Milford Sound, then drive to Twizel and back to Chch to meet our relative down there. But again, I am a Lord of the Rings freak so my plan a bit full with LOTR locations which makes it exciting at least for me hahahahhaa

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    California to Tasman Bay


    I wouldn't recommend taking an 18 month old to Franz Josef.
    A cabin on Lake Tekapo would be a slow, lovely way to spend a few days. Mind you, the drive there isn't short. If you've only got 7-10 days, Top of the South might be the easiest way to see the most without having to drive for ages.
    Picton is the gateway to the Marlborough Sounds and has a playground on the waterfront that my kids love. In the sounds, Momorangi, Ngakuta and Portage are good places to camp (or hire a bach) in or near as they have grassy waterfronts. Hopewell Lodge is absolutely heaven. I can't recommend it enough.
    My kids love Pollard Park and Taylor Dam in Blenheim.
    Pelorus River has a beautiful campsite with a nice swimming hole.
    In Nelson, Tahunanui Motor Camp is a good family place. Tahunanui has a big playground right near the beach. If you have a stroller, it would be about a 20-30 minute walk to Nelson.
    Kaiteriteri, near Abel Tasman, is very busy but beautiful and has a good playground and a nice safe swimming beach. A boat into Abel Tasman with a night at Anchorage would be fun for littlies as the swimming beach there is safe.
    There is back to basics camping at McKee Reserve in Ruby Bay. At low tide, there are heaps of tidal pools to explore. If you have a dog, Kina Reserve, just outside of Tasman village, allows dogs.
    In Mapua, the wharf is a great place to take kids. At the right tide, Grossi Point is a safe swimming area. There is a ferry that goes to Rabbit Island (you don't have to take ferry as it's only 10 minutes from Mapua) which at low tide has a huge, sandy beach. You can't camp there but they have bbqs and toilet.
    In between Nelson and Nelson Lakes is a family friendly camp called Quinney's Bush. My kids love it. Some of the features like the confidence course, flying fox and water slide might be a bit advanced for your little one but it's a quiet camp next to the river with a good swimming hole (when it has water).
    Pohara, over in Golden Bay, is very beautiful and slow paced. Pupu springs in Takaka is an easy walk for littlies.

    Good luck.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Christchurch, NZ


    Quote Originally Posted by A.C. Slater View Post
    We're hoping to do a 7-10 day road trip around the South Island over Christmas break. I know there is heaps to see and do, so I thought I'd throw it to the crowd. If you had 7-10 days on the South Island with your partner and an 18-month-old, what would you do?
    Hi, we just did a 6 day road trip with a 3 yr old. We live in Chch so drove from here. Like you we wanted to try and visit alot of places but some things to consider with a small child. Most of the trips will not allow you with a small child so we didnt do Milford Sound or the glaciers. We drove from Chch to Tekapo, stayed there and visited tekapo springs(fine with small children) and then just walked around the lake etc. We then drove from there to Queenstown which was absolutely beautiful and plenty to do. We stayed for 4 days in a fab apartment (whistler apts) which was an easy walk with stroller(!) into town. We went on the gondola, visited the underwater observatory, played on the little beach, went for a drive across the crown range to wanaka (amazing drive on the highest road in NZ) - we then went to puzzleworld (but 18 month prob too young for that) and generally looked around enjoying scenery etc. We then drove straight back to Chch.. My best advice would be really research what activities you can do with such a young child, we though we could go on boat trips etc but most of them require kids to be 5 yrs or older....I hope that is helpful

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2013


    Are you taking your own car accross on he ferry from Welington, or fly and hire car/campervan?
    We did a 7 day tour last year, from christchurch south, each night at a different place and still did not get as far south as Invercargil, a lot of driving but plenty beautiful scenery/places to stop and look at as you travel.
    Prior to going we got some some maps and mileage/time charts from the library and planned a route which we thought was not too ambitious but covered a lot of what we wanted to see, in the end we were happy with our plan but it did highlight to us that we need to allow more time on future trips so we can relax and enjoy the beautiful south island.
    So in your situation my advise would be to look at exploring a smaller area for this trip, and I suppose the actual area would be determined from your start point and mode of transport, from that you will plan, I am sure, further trips for the rest of the island (sorry I cannot advise on the young one, well not these days anyhow)
    Enjoy your trip.

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