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Thread: Top of South Island- last minute trip! pLEASE HELP

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    United States

    Default Top of South Island- last minute trip! pLEASE HELP

    We booked a ferry from Welington to Picton for like 6 nights. We have our van, our tents and 4 boys. YAY! But all the itineraries are things like wine tasting and whale watching but we are more day hike and beach play type of people. So I hope you guys can gave me some advice on anything special to do or best (museum types or free and outdoors) places for the kids. Husband wants to do the loop all the way to Queenstown, I am up for the shorter drive to Authors Pass. Any advice on what is worth it??

    Thanks!! And Merry Christmas

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Nelson, NZ - from Boulder USA


    If you come towards Nelson there are lots of options for beaches in the area - Rabbit Island, Tahunanui, Kaiteriteri, Abel Tasman. Tahuna and Kaiteri will be busy but have ice cream and playgrounds right near the water. Rabbit Island is pretty big (8km long) but doesn't get any real crowding and doesn't have food etc for sale, so you would have to bring your own for the day. There are a few places to freedom camp but not many so you will most likely end up camping at holiday parks - the one at Kaiteriteri will be completely booked out but you may have better luck in Marahau or Mapua.

    Mapua is also fun for ice cream, jumping off the wharf and just relaxing. You can do day walks into Abel Tasman National Park from Marahau or use a water taxi to be shuttled further in and then walk back - you can camp in the park but I suspect it will be close to booked out this close to the peak holiday season. If your kids (and you) don't mind windy roads, a day over in Golden Bay would be fun, Pupu Springs is cool, as is Wharariki Beach out near Farewell Spit. Again, camping space might be a bit tight this time of year.

    I don't know the ages of your boys but you may be able to hire mountain bikes and ride along the Great Taste Trail (from near Nelson to Kaiteriteri) or in Kaiteriteri mountain bike park (both free to ride).

    The only real museum is in Nelson (Nelson Provincial Museum: and will take an hour or two to explore. There are some other smaller exhibits like with steam engines, trains etc. in Wakefield, about 20km south of Nelson.

    6 nights down to Queenstown and back is likely to leave you with some really cranky kids since you'll be spending most of your time driving - Nelson to Queenstown is a long way (800km+ of often windy roads). I'd agree on looping over at Arthur's Pass and coming back up the east coast to Picton. You'll be able to slow down and explore places along the way instead of having to push on.

    If I think of more options, I'll post them here or flick you a PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Lincoln, UK to Rotorua, NZ


    We've just done the Arthur's Pass loop in two weeks. You might find 6 days is hard work, especially with kids. We went up to Takaka, Motueka, Golden Bay, down the West Coast to Westport, Greymouth then Hokitika, Franz Josef, across Arthur's Pass. Then onto Bank's Peninsula up to Kaikoura. Hard yakka actually. Saw lots but not very restful, could have done with another week really. Look forward to reading about your trip.

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