My upcoming New Zealand expedition

Whomp

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Hey, I'm Whomp's brother in law from New Zealand and currently visiting in Chicago.

A couple of things:

I think you may enjoy hanging out in the Nelson region a little. For example - check out the half day and full day kayaking trips in Abel Tasman National Park. It's a great experience and I think you can base yourself for a night in Motueka and the kayak companies will take you to Kaiteriteri (the beginning of the Abel Tasman track) and return you in the evening. You're right about the difficulty of coming up the West Coast and then wanting to drop down to Kaikoura on the east coast. Easiest way would be to bus from Nelson to Kaikoura. But, you'll have to allow a travel day before the whale watch trip. So, factor in at least one night in Kaikoura cos' the trips head out early in the day.

Finally, New Zealand trips do take a while. The distances may be small, but the South Island especially is mountainous and the roads are two-lane blacktops most of the way. And, totally agree being prepared for fast weather changes in the high country. You have to tell people where you're going and carry lots of supplies, extra clothing etc. Every year experienced international outdoors people die in NZ cos' they don't plan for the changeability of the weather. Because it's all Island the weather forecasts can be substantially wrong.

This message is Whomp approved. :)
 

warpus

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Hey, I'm Whomp's brother in law from New Zealand and currently visiting in Chicago.

Oh yeah! He mentioned he had relatives there, I forgot!

I think you may enjoy hanging out in the Nelson region a little. For example - check out the half day and full day kayaking trips in Abel Tasman National Park. It's a great experience and I think you can base yourself for a night in Motueka and the kayak companies will take you to Kaiteriteri (the beginning of the Abel Tasman track) and return you in the evening.

I was actually planning on spending a day or two in Kaiteriteri and relaxing there on the beach - it looks really nice - must be one of the nicer beaches in New Zealand?

I am also planning to do this there:
http://aquataxi.co.nz/trips/slice-of-paradise

What do you think? I would get to see (and walk) parts of a great walk (I think), and see a lot of beautiful coastline (at least that's what it seems by looking at the pictures)

What can I expect on a half/full day kayak trip?

I was looking into accomodations @ Kaiteriteri and found a campsite I could use - I emailed them and it seems to be a pretty big one - no need to make reservations either.. One thing I wasn't sure about was how to get there from Motueka - but it seems to be a pretty popular destination so I should be able to find something.

You're right about the difficulty of coming up the West Coast and then wanting to drop down to Kaikoura on the east coast. Easiest way would be to bus from Nelson to Kaikoura. But, you'll have to allow a travel day before the whale watch trip. So, factor in at least one night in Kaikoura cos' the trips head out early in the day.

Hmm I'm not sure if I'd have enough time for that then... I have a feeling I'm going to want to spend a bunch of time on the beach and rest a while after doing 2 great walks and parts of another one.. instead of spending more time on a bus. But I suppose that's a decision I'm going to have to make when I'm there.

Finally, New Zealand trips do take a while. The distances may be small, but the South Island especially is mountainous and the roads are two-lane blacktops most of the way. And, totally agree being prepared for fast weather changes in the high country. You have to tell people where you're going and carry lots of supplies, extra clothing etc. Every year experienced international outdoors people die in NZ cos' they don't plan for the changeability of the weather. Because it's all Island the weather forecasts can be substantially wrong.

Damn, now you've got me a bit worried. Are you talking about just the tracks, or general travel in the country? I downloaded the PDF track pamphlets for the milford track and the routeburn track (which I will be walking), and they list all the things they think I should bring. The list seems very similar to all the stuff I had to bring to southern Patagonia - where I had to be ready for 4 seasons of weather.

So I think I will be ready, but now you've got me thinking

This message is Whomp approved. :)

Thanks Whomp! Thanks Whomp's brother in law!
 

warpus

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I've been looking at a map and it seems like I have 2 options:

1. From Wanaka I can go through the Haast pass, check out mt. cook/glaciers, head to murchison, then nelson

2. From Wanaka I can check out mt.cook/glaciers (on the south side, I want to do a scenic flyover, they do that from both sides), then take a bus to Christchurch, then kaikoura, then Nelson.. From there it seems like Murchison would be a feasible sidetrip (it seems close)

Cons of 1. are that I miss the whales and Christchurch.. Cons of 2. are that I miss the Haast pass and it would take a bit longer... maybe 3 days? maybe more if I spend more time in christchurch

edit: of course if there's anything else along either of these routes worth seeing, that might help me make a decision. For now I am set on the haast pass, just cuase it seems worthwhile
 

ainwood

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Have you actually considered hiring a car for part of it?

Your "to do" list has a couple of problems in the order. If you want to go through both murchison and Kaikoura, then you actually need to back-track a bit.

To go from Christchurch to Nelson, you can go via a few routes. I prefer the Lewis Pass, which takes you past Hamner Springs (quite a nice place to stop - small alpine village with thermal hotpools), then on and through Murchison. Be warned: Murchison is a fairly small town! I have been white water rafting there, but I'm sure you could do that somewhere else as well (Queenstown, for certain). Another is up the coast via Kaikoura, blenheim and then on through to Nelson.

Abel Tasman is pretty nice, but the water taxis etc shut-down for winter. They will be running by the time you get there though. The water taxis are quite expensive, if I recall correctly. But if you're in to hiking, then just walk it instead.
 

warpus

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Have you actually considered hiring a car for part of it?

Thought about it, but nakedbus seems cheap enough.

Your "to do" list has a couple of problems in the order. If you want to go through both murchison and Kaikoura, then you actually need to back-track a bit.

Well, I figure that it's either one or the other. I kinda wanted to go through the Haast pass, cause I heard it's nice, so stopping by murchison makes sense (only because it's the white water rafting capital of new zealand).. but if you say that murchison is small, and accomodations might be tough to find (i'll have a tent, will that help?), maybe I shouldn't stop there? it's not an important stop on my list, but I wanted somewhere to go in between wanaka and nelson.

I will be starting in queenstown, then heading to wanaka, and then heading north-east from there btw

To go from Christchurch to Nelson, you can go via a few routes. I prefer the Lewis Pass, which takes you past Hamner Springs (quite a nice place to stop - small alpine village with thermal hotpools), then on and through Murchison. Be warned: Murchison is a fairly small town! I have been white water rafting there, but I'm sure you could do that somewhere else as well (Queenstown, for certain). Another is up the coast via Kaikoura, blenheim and then on through to Nelson.

It almost seems like skipping both passes and going through christchurch & kaikoura might be a better idea. What's there to do in blenheim? Is that where the vineyards are?

It seems like there is a *ton* to do in queenstown, but it might be a tad more expensive.. but whatever, maybe I should just stay in queenstown a bit longer, do a bunch more stuff, and then continue my journey.

I would just really like to go through one of the passes, and I'm trying to figure out how to squeeze that into the trip. maybe it isn't even worth it, if I'm just bussing through without stopping?

Would you recommend travelling down the east coast or the west coast? Is either supposed to be nicer? The east coast seems to have more stuff to see/do, but the west coast is closer to the alps.

Abel Tasman is pretty nice, but the water taxis etc shut-down for winter. They will be running by the time you get there though. The water taxis are quite expensive, if I recall correctly. But if you're in to hiking, then just walk it instead.

The "slice of paradise" one is $77 which seems pretty cheap to me.. I could walk it, but that would take a couple days :p I'll probably be tired from the milford & routeburn tracks

edit: I just ordered the lonely planet guides for the south and the north islands. the new editions aren't out yet, so i should be getting these in about 3 weeks.. this should provide me a ton of information, and help me decide what the hell i want to do after wanaka.. but until then..
 

warpus

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Okay, forget Murchison.. How about this:

New potential itinerary: Queenstown, Te Anau, Milford Track, Milford Sound, Routeburn Track, Queenstown, Wanaka, Haast Paas, scenic flyover of mt. cook, Greymouth, and THEN

a tranzalpine ride from Greymouth to Christchurch

then I'd finish off the south island with Kaikoura, Nelson, Kaiteriteri, and Picton
 

Gangor

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Okay, forget Murchison.. How about this:

New potential itinerary: Queenstown, Te Anau, Milford Track, Milford Sound, Routeburn Track, Queenstown, Wanaka, Haast Paas, scenic flyover of mt. cook, Greymouth, and THEN

a tranzalpine ride from Greymouth to Christchurch

then I'd finish off the south island with Kaikoura, Nelson, Kaiteriteri, and Picton

There's also the inland scenic route (that's what they call it): chch - hanmer springs - kaikoura.

Hanmer has some nice thermal springs and also does bungy jumping, rafting, jetboating etc.

Edit: Oh yes, don't drink the coffee on the tranzalpine. You have been warned...
 

Zardnaar

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Jiring a car and then deciding what you want to do may be a better option.
 

Whomp

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Okay, forget Murchison.. How about this:

New potential itinerary: Queenstown, Te Anau, Milford Track, Milford Sound, Routeburn Track, Queenstown, Wanaka, Haast Paas, scenic flyover of mt. cook, Greymouth, and THEN

a tranzalpine ride from Greymouth to Christchurch

then I'd finish off the south island with Kaikoura, Nelson, Kaiteriteri, and Picton
Juicy here. :) My bro in law says the train line is not running right now but might be in December. He likes your itinerary btw.
 

warpus

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Juicy here. :) My bro in law says the train line is not running right now but might be in December. He likes your itinerary btw.

Yeah it says on their website that they are running buses instead of the Arthur's pass train now due to the recent earthquake. Also says the train should be back soon... actually, it seems to say that the trains are back as of Sept 9th.. Hmm..

Here's an updated map of my south island itinerary for anyone who wants to comment/provide feedback/suggestions etc. It has been slowly changing as I collect more information and get more ideas: (I have a real good feeling about this version!) edit: updated map. blue is bus, red is train, yellow is boat



1. Land in Queenstown, 2 nights there, go up skyline gandola
2. Bus to Te Anau, spend a night there, boat to the Milford Track
3. 4 days later I'm in Milford Sound, spend 2 nights there, do scenic cruise
4. Bus to the divide, do the Routeburn Track, bus back to Queenstown
5. Spend a couple days in Queenstown, bunjy jump, maybe jetboat or whatever else I find to do there. white water rafting?
6. Bus to Wanka, spend a night or 2 there, skydiving? (might bypass this entire stop)
7. Head to Franz Ferdinand (Josef! Not Ferdinand :lol:) glacier through the Haast pass, do scenic flight, 1 night
8. Bus to Greymouth, 1 night, tranzAlpine scenic train to Christchurch through Arthur pass
9. 1 night in Christchurch, transCoastal scenic train ride to Picton w/ stop in Kaikoura (hopefully getting pics of some whales/dolphins)
10. 1 night in Picton, bus to Motueka, cab/bus/shuttle to Kaiteriteri, 1 or 2 nights there, explore a bit of the Abel Tasman park w/ a watertaxi/boat cruise/maybe hike
11. Bus back to Picton, ferry to Wellington, begin North Island expedition

The only things I'm not sure about is how long to spend in Queenstown after finishing the 2 tracks, how long to stay in Wanaka (or if just to bypass it), if to spend more than 1 day in Christchurch, if I would be allowed to stop @ Kaikoura for a night on the tranzCoastal train ride without having to buy 2 tickets (or maybe I should do that anyway), whether I should even go to Nelson or bypass it like in the above plan, and hmm.. that's it. My lonely planet guides that will be shipping to me soon should answer a lot of these questions, but feel free to jump in :)
 
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