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Nez Zealand travel - please advice me.

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1. Posted by nz_fan (First Time Poster 1 posts) 10y

Hi to everyone that reads this.

I have few simple questions regarding to my honeymoon journey. My future wife & myself are planning to travel to New Zealand. Since we completly dislike organized tours, we decided to take things by ourselves. NZ is very far away (we are from Europe), so we wouldn't be very happy to spend too much money 4 plane, accomodation (of course too much means not too expensive).

Travel details:
Travel starts: 14.July 2006 (Stay for 15 or 16 days)
Travel ends: 31. July 2006.
Expactation: To take the car and visit all most impressive places on both islands (mostly lakes, national parks, natural resources in NZ. We would like to sleep each day on diff. place, mostly priv. accomodation with bed & breakfast.

Here are the few questions:
1. Is it good to go to NZ in July! I suppose there is winter there then. So does it make any differences with plants, vegetation, or natural beauty?!? Is that time period good to go there?

2. Flight ticket? Which company. I heard that london is the cheapest place to flight to NZ. Please give me some advice?!?

3. Int airport on North Island? Rotorua? or? Auckland?

4. Vaccination? Needed?

5. Best and most popular places?

6. Good Car rental service, not too expensive?

7. Bed & breakfast advices? Where? Need to reserve room before or? Just come to?

Thank you ppl, if you answer this questions (or just few) you can help me a lot. I should reserve my plane ticket very soon.

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4808 posts) 10y

Quoting nz_fan

1. Is it good to go to NZ in July! I suppose there is winter there then. So does it make any differences with plants, vegetation, or natural beauty?!? Is that time period good to go there?

Yes, winter is an absolutely gorgeous time of the year to go to New Zealand. There are some things you can't do (e.g. Tongariro Crossing), but this is more than made up for by the absolutely gorgeous mountains in the Southern Alps, all dusted with fresh snow.

2. Flight ticket? Which company. I heard that london is the cheapest place to flight to NZ. Please give me some advice?!?

Whichever has decent prices at the specific time you're flying. Just drop in at a travel agency to see what specials are on. I personally flew with Air New Zealand, but I think the cheapest flights go over Asia.

3. Int airport on North Island? Rotorua? or? Auckland?

Auckland. The only other airport that does a lot of international flights is Christchurch.

4. Vaccination? Needed?

No.

5. Best and most popular places?

Everywhere. :D
Personally I'm very partial to Lake Tekapo, which is about halfway between Christchurch and Queenstown. It is a destination where most people stop for five minutes to take a snapshot of the church of the good shepherd before moving on, but I've spent over three weeks there during five stops, and I just can't get enough of it. It's the most perfectly tranquil and gorgeous bit of perfection I've ever encountered, with ever changing colors - all beautiful - and a fantastic view of eternity (and the southern alps) from on top of nearby Mt. John (a three hour roundtrip to the top and back).
The rainforest around the glaciers on the West Coast is also truly spectacular, and if you're a LotR fan, than the rolling green hills of the Hobbiton movie set near Matamata are a must see.
In summer the Tongariro Crossing (billed as the best one-day walk in existence - which I might just agree with) is a must-do, but doing that won't be advisable in winter - still, Tongariro National Park will still be gorgeous, with especially Mt. Ruapehu looking absolutely splendid with all the snow on top of it.

6. Good Car rental service, not too expensive?

Ezi Rent. I used them twice and was so happy with the service both of the times that I keep recommending them. The cars are 3-5 years old, and have a few dents and scratches everywhere (which they very carefully point out in advance so you know about them, but when you return, they barely glance at the car beyond ascertaining that you haven't been in a major car accident), which means that they are cheaper - but they still drive great. They offer accomodation/airport pickup and dropoff as well.

7. Bed & breakfast advices? Where? Need to reserve room before or? Just come to?

I think that time of you should be able to just find something on the day itself. However, two weeks for the two islands is a very short amount of time, so I recommend figuring out your entire itinerary in advance, which means that you can just book everything in advance - which is probably good for peace of mind, knowing that you'll have a place to arrive to after the sometimes long days of driving.

Here's a suggested itinerary (all links go to pictures I took of these places)
day 1: Arrival, explore Auckland.
day 2: Do the Coast to Coast Walkway, past Mt. Eden and One Tree Hill.
day 3: Drive to Matamata, see Hobbiton, end the day somewhere near Taupo. (Alternatively, if you're not big LotR fans, swing by one of the geothermal parks near Rotorua instead, like Wai-o-tapu)
day 4: Leisurely drive south, with lots of stops around Tongariro National Park, ending in Wellington.
day 5: Ferry to Picton, west toward Nelson Lakes (I never got to properly explore that area, but it always looked gorgeous every time I drove through).
day 6: Onward to the west coast - try to time being at the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and blowholes for high tide - finish at the end of the day at Franz Josef Glacier.
day 7: Explore franz josef glacier. Take a helicopter flight over the alps (with glacier landing) if the weather's nice. Walk the track to Roberts Point, or at least gaze into the still waters of Peter's Pool. Truly gorgeous. Maybe drive on to Fox Glacier to see that.
day 8: Drive on to Queenstown, making certain to stop for Thunder Falls e.a. on Haast Pass.
day 9: Explore Queenstown. Find the start of One Mile Creek track, and follow the waterpipe up the mountain.
day 10: Take a bus tour with boat cruise to Milford Sound. (That's a very very long day - you do not want to drive that yourself.)
day 11: Drive over Lindis Pass to Mt. Cook National Park.
day 12: Then to Lake Tekapo. If the weather's good, and wasn't at the glaciers, see about that helicopter flight. Climb Mt. John and see gorgeous views of the Southern Alps. Eat Pizza at Pepe's. (I recommend the Carbonara Pizza - best pizza I've ever had.) :)
day 13: Linger in Lake Tekapo, walk to Cowan's Hill, and at the end of the day drive on to Christchurch.
day 14: Explore Christchurch.
day 15: Fly back to Auckland, and on to Europe.

3. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4808 posts) 10y

And finally, have an absolutely awesome time! (But I have no doubt that you will; I travelled through New Zealand for two weeks with my girlfriend last year, getting to show her all these places (that I'd discovered during a year backpacking), and things simply cannot be anything other than perfect in that country.) *g*