2 to 3 weeks in NZ - Advice needed

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2 to 3 weeks in NZ - Advice needed

Postby butter-nuts » Fri 30 Aug, 2019 10:56 am

Hi Guys,

I hope this post isn't too low effort, I am just a little overwhelmed by all the amazing walks in NZ and would love some pointers on how to narrow down my selection.

I am looking to plan a trip to NZ for around 2~3 weeks next year (somewhere between the start of Feb and end of April). I am looking for some advice on how to best make use of this time (specifically what walks would you recommend). Ideally I would be on the trail the whole time, and I am really preferring long walks over many short ones (I really love getting into the walking mindset if that makes sense). I have started my research by looking at doing a section of the TA on the South Island (I haven't got down to the nitty gritty of exactly which section), but would really love some advice on those familiar with NZ on what walks I should look into.

Please let me know if I am missing any info needed to give advice, and thanks in advance, your input is really appreciated!
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Re: 2 to 3 weeks in NZ - Advice needed

Postby Aardvark » Fri 30 Aug, 2019 5:28 pm

Where are you flying into? Christchurch or Q'Town or Dunedin?
Are you hiring a car or have you considered a relocation vehicle?
What time do you arrive and how many people are involved?
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Re: 2 to 3 weeks in NZ - Advice needed

Postby wayno » Sat 31 Aug, 2019 4:23 am

depends entirely on the terrain you prefer and are experienced in and whether you like a lot of other peolpe around or not, the TA is now a dozen people sharing a five bunk hut scenario... it was last season , it gets worse every season the no's are exploding. the options can be endless, depending on what your preference is
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Re: 2 to 3 weeks in NZ - Advice needed

Postby butter-nuts » Sat 31 Aug, 2019 7:28 am

Hey guys, thanks so much for reading my post and taking the time to respond! Sorry if I was a bit vague, let me try to narrow things down a bit:

Aardvark wrote:Where are you flying into? Christchurch or Q'Town or Dunedin?


I am completely flexible as nothing is booked and the trip will be centered around hiking.

Aardvark wrote:Are you hiring a car or have you considered a relocation vehicle?


Again, as I am only starting to plan this is open. I can hire a car if required.

Aardvark wrote:how many people are involved?


I will be hiking solo.

wayno wrote:depends entirely on the terrain you prefer and are experienced in and whether you like a lot of other peolpe around or not, the TA is now a dozen people sharing a five bunk hut scenario... it was last season , it gets worse every season the no's are exploding. the options can be endless, depending on what your preference is


I love mountain terrain and prefer forest over coastal. I also prefer solitude (or at least quieter trails) over busy trails (so maybe TA isn't the best idea).

Definitely agree about endless options, hence why I'm a little overwhelmed when starting to plan a trip. What would you say are some of your favorite trails which fit.my above preference that I can start reading about to help me narrow down a few options?

Thanks again guys, much appreciated!
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Re: 2 to 3 weeks in NZ - Advice needed

Postby Aardvark » Sat 31 Aug, 2019 7:54 am

It is easy to spend a lot of time on transport and accommodation.
2-3 weeks will go quickly and maybe you want to consider staying in one area for that time. eg Canterbury or Otago.
It is easy to keep yourself busy in one area for that time. Perhaps you are thinking of trying to get a bit of each area to cover as much of the island as possible.
I was hooked on the first visit and have been back more than 40 times. Sometimes a long weekend with a very specific goal, many time for 2-3 weeks, and a couple of times for 6 weeks.
Their economy depends on tourism (and even if you don't regard yourself as a tourist), transport isn't necessarily as flexible as you might think.
eg no early or late buses etc. Things don't get moving in that area until like 9 or 10am. Sometimes you might be compelled to take accommodation before transport is available. That can get expensive. Also that time of year there can be festivals and events which very much limit your options.
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Re: 2 to 3 weeks in NZ - Advice needed

Postby Aardvark » Sat 31 Aug, 2019 9:18 am

When flying into ChCh , usually one of the most affordable options means landing at midnight.
I don't fancy booking into accommodation for a few hours and then spending the next day on transport so i would find which Countdown store (supermarket) is open 24hrs, collect my hire car and shop, drive west toward Arthurs Pass and reach a trail head before dawn.
Alternatively, i would drive out to Banks Peninsula to have a nap in the car at Diamond Harbour or around at Kaituna valley, visit Mt.Herbert (highest on the Peninsula - around 900m), drive back to accommodation in ChCh by mid afternoon. Shop for groceries and fuel etc, cook a lamb roast for cold meat over the next few days, and get a fresh start the following day. ( give the bone to a dog walker in the morning).
More recently i shopped online for groceries and had them delivered to a motel with which i made arrangements .

Things in Canterbury area to get you started researching. Casey-Binser , Cass-Lagoon saddle, Bealey Spur, Mt.Somers, Winterslow Range, Little Mt.Peel, Mt.Oxford, Mt.Thomas, Waimakariri river to Carrington hut (start of the Three Passes, Waimakariri saddle, White river to Barker hut etc.)
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Re: 2 to 3 weeks in NZ - Advice needed

Postby butter-nuts » Sat 31 Aug, 2019 12:42 pm

Thanks so much for the info, it is incredibly helpful!

Aardvark wrote:2-3 weeks will go quickly and maybe you want to consider staying in one area for that time. eg Canterbury or Otago. It is easy to keep yourself busy in one area for that time.


This sounds like a great idea. I actually prefer the idea of of staying in one area rather than doing heaps of transit. I'll have a look at walks around Canterbury and Otago as a start.

Aardvark wrote: was hooked on the first visit and have been back more than 40 times. Sometimes a long weekend with a very specific goal, many time for 2-3 weeks, and a couple of times for 6 weeks.
Their economy depends on tourism (and even if you don't regard yourself as a tourist), transport isn't necessarily as flexible as you might think.
eg no early or late buses etc. Things don't get moving in that area until like 9 or 10am. Sometimes you might be compelled to take accommodation before transport is available. That can get expensive. Also that time of year there can be festivals and events which very much limit your options.


This is great info, thanks.
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Re: 2 to 3 weeks in NZ - Advice needed

Postby butter-nuts » Sat 31 Aug, 2019 12:45 pm

Aardvark wrote:When flying into ChCh , usually one of the most affordable options means landing at midnight.
I don't fancy booking into accommodation for a few hours and then spending the next day on transport so i would find which Countdown store (supermarket) is open 24hrs, collect my hire car and shop, drive west toward Arthurs Pass and reach a trail head before dawn.
Alternatively, i would drive out to Banks Peninsula to have a nap in the car at Diamond Harbour or around at Kaituna valley, visit Mt.Herbert (highest on the Peninsula - around 900m), drive back to accommodation in ChCh by mid afternoon. Shop for groceries and fuel etc, cook a lamb roast for cold meat over the next few days, and get a fresh start the following day. ( give the bone to a dog walker in the morning).
More recently i shopped online for groceries and had them delivered to a motel with which i made arrangements .

Things in Canterbury area to get you started researching. Casey-Binser , Cass-Lagoon saddle, Bealey Spur, Mt.Somers, Winterslow Range, Little Mt.Peel, Mt.Oxford, Mt.Thomas, Waimakariri river to Carrington hut (start of the Three Passes, Waimakariri saddle, White river to Barker hut etc.)


Also incredibly helpful. I now have a lot of research ahead of me! If you don't mind I may ask some more specific questions once I have done some further reading. Thanks again!
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Re: 2 to 3 weeks in NZ - Advice needed

Postby Aardvark » Sun 01 Sep, 2019 10:14 am

It used to be that if you flew into ChCh and wanted to bus it to Q'town, it was once in the vicinity of $60 to sit on a bus for at least 6 hrs . That bus didn't leave until about 9am. For many it meant a nights accom to wait for it. Of course it is often only another $30 or so now to get the flight straight to Q'town.
Another option was to review certain hire car companies and get a relocation vehicle. Sometimes as little as $1. You pay the fuel. Only between major centres like Q'town and ChCh etc. You then had as much as 3 days to deliver it. End costs were similar to the bus but you had the driving. Stop where and when you want. Be mindful that night driving across the Mackenzie basin ie Tekapo, Mt.Cook area is fraught with hassles like thousands (literally) of rabbits on the road. And a high police presence to generate as much revenue as possible from tourists.Haha
Drivenow.co.nz or vroomvroomvroom.co.nz are good options.
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Re: 2 to 3 weeks in NZ - Advice needed

Postby PedroArvy » Sun 01 Sep, 2019 12:51 pm

Avoid the Great Walks, they are great tourist tramps in my opinion. I hate staying in a hut with 40 people.
Avoid the TA for the same reason.
Subscribe to https://www.wildernessmag.co.nz/ and find walks there that are not in the category above.
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Re: 2 to 3 weeks in NZ - Advice needed

Postby Walk_fat boy_walk » Tue 03 Sep, 2019 11:31 am

Agree there are a lot of 'what ifs' and that whichever region you visit, you should stay in that region rather than trying to move around too much. For a first time trip, and for variety of options and 'bang for buck', you could fly straight into Queenstown - the sheer volume of tracks, accommodation options and track transport services means you could quite easily put together an itinerary to fit around the time available. Also agree about avoiding the Great Walks, although I think the Routeburn is pretty nice if you can put up with people.

Good 'non-great walk' options in the area that are serviced by transport from Queenstown include Greenstone/Caples, Rees-Dart + Cascade Saddle, Gillespie Pass (+option to head upstream to along the Wilkin to Top Forks and beyond)... could easily fit all of those into a 3 week itinerary with time to check other stuff out (a few day walks maybe). All of course depends on your capabilities and fitness... if inexperienced maybe stick to Greenstone/Caples and a couple of the great walks. Conversely if you're really fit and experienced you could look at Five Passes or Dusky (I've done neither but plan doing the Dusky in the next year or two).
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Re: 2 to 3 weeks in NZ - Advice needed

Postby butter-nuts » Tue 03 Sep, 2019 3:46 pm

Walk_fat boy_walk wrote:Agree there are a lot of 'what ifs' and that whichever region you visit, you should stay in that region rather than trying to move around too much. For a first time trip, and for variety of options and 'bang for buck', you could fly straight into Queenstown - the sheer volume of tracks, accommodation options and track transport services means you could quite easily put together an itinerary to fit around the time available. Also agree about avoiding the Great Walks, although I think the Routeburn is pretty nice if you can put up with people.

Good 'non-great walk' options in the area that are serviced by transport from Queenstown include Greenstone/Caples, Rees-Dart + Cascade Saddle, Gillespie Pass (+option to head upstream to along the Wilkin to Top Forks and beyond)... could easily fit all of those into a 3 week itinerary with time to check other stuff out (a few day walks maybe). All of course depends on your capabilities and fitness... if inexperienced maybe stick to Greenstone/Caples and a couple of the great walks. Conversely if you're really fit and experienced you could look at Five Passes or Dusky (I've done neither but plan doing the Dusky in the next year or two).


Thanks mate, this is great info. I have stated putting a bit of a plan together, I will post back once I have it a bit more nutted out.

With respect to fitness/experience I would say I am moderately fit / relatively experienced. The last long(ish) hike I did was Larapinta (which took 10 days if that gives any indication of fitness). I get out to the Victorian Alps/Grampians for weekend hikes at least one a month.
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Re: 2 to 3 weeks in NZ - Advice needed

Postby wayno » Wed 04 Sep, 2019 3:40 am

Greenstone/Caples, Rees-Dart + Cascade Saddle, Gillespie Pass.
take a tent, the huts are all overloaded in summer
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