Lake Matheson, near Fox Glacier, South Island, New Zealand

My Overly Ambitious New Zealand Itinerary

August 22, 2011

in new zealand, road trip, vacation

Seven days.
Six different hotels.
Two travelers.
One rental car.

Bring it, South Island.

Brendan and I leave for Christchurch on Sunday. We’ll be back the following Sunday, very early in the morning. We crammed a lot of stuff into a short amount of time, but I think we can bang out that ish like a boss.

Why So Little Time, Exactly?

I made the call to only spend a week in New Zealand. Me, the one with the more flexible schedule, the one who can actually take work with me if I want when I travel. I did this for a few reasons.

Brendan already took a road trip around the South Island back in 2009 (I went to the North in 2010) and I’m a fast-paced traveler by nature. It didn’t make sense to me to linger so long in New Zealand when I like to see things quickly and my travel companion has already been to the destination.

The other factor involves future travel. Brendan and I scheduled other trips in October and March and might also fly home to the States for Christmas. Plus, there are several family events taking place in 2012. Taking two weeks in New Zealand would’ve been excessive in terms of both finances and vacation time.

What We’ll Be Doing


In other words, we’ll be seeing a lot of beautiful scenery. That is the sole focus of this trip.

We spend the first night in Kaikoura, then go west through Hanmer Springs to Hokitika, my new favorite word to say. We then head down the coast to Franz Josef Glacier, Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook, Glenorchy and Queenstown. We’re staying in Milford Sound and then going back east to Dunedin, a spot recommended by Amanda at A Dangerous Business, before heading up to Akaroa and finally Christchurch. The one spot not yet factored in but on our “We Hope to Get to It” list is Wanaka.

We don’t have a lot of activities planned yet, but we’d like to do glacier hiking and possibly sail or kayak in Milford Sound. I would love to swim with the dolphins in Akaroa, but we’ll see how cold it is. We also hope to meet up with Backpacking Matt when we stop in Queenstown.

What We Won’t Be Doing

Extreme sports of any kind, at least for me. Brendan bungy jumped on his last trip to South Island, and he says he might go again, but I’ll just watch. I also don’t like winter sports either, so there will be no skiing or snowboarding. Yes, I know, this makes me the worst-ever visitor to South Island.

When was the last time you crammed a lot into a short trip?

Featured image by Shoops2011

16 Comments - Add Yours!

  1. Erik

    I cram on every trip. Nothing wrong with that. If you’ve got a limited amount of time, why not do everything you can? I’ll be watching you closely as I plan to do NZ for a month next year! Have fun!

  2. Chris

    My ex and I did New Zealand in a similar amount of time last year. It was a blast. I’m not one for extreme sports either, but did fit in a zip line tour in Queenstown (a lot of fun), zorbing in Rotorua (worth the trip alone), and black water rafting in Waitomo.

    Take a look at my itinerary sometime. Might give you some ideas!

    1. Lauren Post author

      Wow, sounds like an awesome trip! I’m impressed you covered both islands in such a short amount of time. I will definitely take a look at your blog posts on it — thanks for sharing!

  3. Christina (Jandal Road)

    Ht’s a nice itinerary you’ve got! I absolutely loved Hanmer Springs. The springs were bliss and so was our hostel. Seems like you’ve managed to cram a lot of the top spots in there already. Don’t forget when you head from Dunedin up to CHCH where I suppose you’ll be flying out, that there are the Moeraki Boulders and Oamaru on the way!

    1. Lauren Post author

      Thanks Christina! I hadn’t heard of Moeraki Boulders and Oamaru — will definitely add them in since we will be driving that way. Thanks so much for suggestion.

  4. Claire

    You guys are going to be busy!
    We just crammed a lot into 48 hours at the beach-parasailing, go-karting, boogie-boarding, miniature golf, and of course eating. It *almost* wasn’t relaxing, but so worth it!

    1. Lauren Post author

      I love it! Sometimes you gotta go a bit spastic to do all you want to to. I want to hear more about the parasailing.

  5. Andrea

    Laur, I cram to every trip I ever take to the east coast… However, I am way more mellow (west coast?) now and I don’t want to cram anymore. Do you have any tips to UN-cram a trip?? 😉 I can’t wait to hear how your trip went!!

    1. Lauren Post author

      Andrea, that’s great you’re more mellow on the West Coast! I’ll have to think about the uncramming 🙂 Maybe I need a trip to the West Coast to sort me out on that on 🙂

  6. Rebecca

    Ek! I was out of town when this was posted and I am just reading it now, assuming you are already back! I love saying the word “Hokitika” too (or as you prob now know it as the locals call it, “Hoki”, hehe). Too bad you didn’t make it up north, there are some fun names there (don’t forget that ‘wh’ makes an ffff sound:)).

    “Dunners” is probably my favourite “big” town in NZ, hope you had a great time! And of course, Akaroa is my FAVOURITE town in the whole country! Agh, can’t wait to read about your time there! Miss it so much!!

    1. Lauren Post author

      Yes, I’m back, haha. I didn’t make it to Hokitika — we kept driving all the way to the Franz. And didn’t make Akaroa either 🙁 But we saw many other amazing places — more to come!

  7. Ali

    I usually end up cramming a lot into my trips as well. Last year I planned a 2 week trip to Hong Kong and Australia, and ended up squeezing in a few hours in Macau, a day in Kuala Lumpur, and a day in Singapore. This was all in between 2 1/2 days in HK and about 9 days in Perth, Ayers Rock, Cairns, and Sydney. I should’ve cut out Macau and either KL or Singapore, it was a bit overboard to do all of that! Have fun in NZ, Andy and I will be there around Christmas and New Year’s!

    1. Lauren Post author

      Dear Lord, that’s a lot of travel! Most people need at least couple weeks for Australia alone. You’ve been to places in Oz I haven’t even been to! NZ was an awesome trip — should be a great time of year when you go.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *