South Island

The Planning Stage

February 2010 sees a big birthday for me - I change decades. Then 2 months later hubby changes decades too.

So we've decided to 'celebrate' the fact by taking a long five week holiday to South Island.

The plan is that we can take our time, and see all the places we whizzed past on our 'faster than a Japanese tourist' tour of 2004. Plus we want to get to the far south, and see Bluff and Stewart Island. Just to say we've done it.

I'm fortunate that my company allows me to take time off unpaid, but five weeks away will severely stretch the savings. So this trip will definitely be done on a budget.

Which Vehicle?

Our first debate was whether to take the motorbikes or the sports car. Both severely limit our luggage when compared to taking our Honda Jazz - but this is an adventure! Part of the experience is being able to be part of the countryside, and you can't do that if you're shut in a metal box.

After much debate we decided that on the sports car. A number of reasons:

  1. This is a long holiday. I'm not sure I could cope with 5 weeks on a motorbike.
  2. We can talk to each other easier
  3. We can share the driving
  4. And - probably most important - if it rains we can put the hood up!

Ironically we'll have less luggage space in the car than on two motorbikes. But we plan to take the car along all the roads we had planned to take on the bikes. This will mean more paint chips on the car, but we've decided to treat it to a new coat of paint when we get home.

How to get there?

There's not really any choice if we want to use our own car - it has to be the Interislander Ferry between Wellington and Picton.

This is not cheap - between $220 NZD and $315 NZD one way for a car and 2 passengers depending on the fare type. But we have a Top 10 Holiday Parks card which means we get a 10% discount. You get the cost of the membership ($40 NZD) back just by booking the ferry, and 10% off whenever you stay at one of their parks. Plus there are discounts on local attractions. Worth it.

There is an alternative ferry Bluebridge Cook Strait Ferries, which is marginally cheaper before the Top 10 discount.

So we'll drive down to Wellington the day before, then stay overnight close to the ferry terminal so we don't have a panic to get there before our sailing.

Where to stay?

Our budget dictates that our accommodtion is as cheap as possible. Luggage space means taking a tent and camping gear is impractical. But we do want a private room (no backpackers dormitories for us!).

So the plan is to use cabins in holiday parks, double rooms in backpackers, and traditional New Zealand hotels (which are generally bars with some accommodation - generally used by tradespeople and not tourists). We're budgeting on $75 NZD per night, but hoping that we can find cheaper cabins in most places.

One consideration is the time of year - we're going after the schools go back, but this is still the height of the overseas tourist season. So there's a balancing act between booking in advance to get the cheaper accommodation, and not being too tied to an itinerary. We're purposefully planning NOT to stay in Queenstown, as it's expensive and overbooked. Oh - and we stayed there for three days out of 8 when we visited on our pre-emigration holiday.

The Provisional Route

Provisional for a couple of reasons - we'll look at the weather forecast and head towards the sun, and if there are places we like/hate we'll change the number of days we'll stay.

14/02/2010 Sunday Wellington
15/02/2010 Monday Karamea
16/02/2010 Tuesday Karamea
17/02/2010 Wednesday Franz Josef
18/02/2010 Thursday Franz Josef
19/02/2010 Friday Wanaka
20/02/2010 Saturday Wanaka
21/02/2010 Sunday Mount Cook
22/02/2010 Monday Glenorchy
23/02/2010 Tuesday Te Anau
24/02/2010 Wednesday Te Anau
25/02/2010 Thursday Invercargill
26/02/2010 Friday Invercargill
27/02/2010 Saturday Catlins Coast
28/02/2010 Sunday Catlins Coast
01/03/2010 Monday Alexandra
02/03/2010 Tuesday Alexandra
03/03/2010 Wednesday Dunedin
04/03/2010 Thursday Dunedin
05/03/2010 Friday Oamaru
06/03/2010 Saturday Lake Tekapo
07/03/2010 Sunday Timaru
08/03/2010 Monday Lake Brunner
09/03/2010 Tuesday Hanmer Springs
10/03/2010 Wednesday Hanmer Springs
11/03/2010 Thursday Blenheim
12/03/2010 Friday Blenheim
13/03/2010 Saturday Kaiteriteri
14/03/2010 Sunday Kaiteriteri
15/03/2010 Monday Nelson
16/03/2010 Tuesday Nelson
17/03/2010 Wednesday Picton
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