Hi guys, my gf and I want to go to New Zealand in January. We have never been there but heard a lot of good stuff.
I wanted to know what city would be good to stay at. I've heard Christchurch is good. I would like to find a nice lodge or hotel for us, if possible with a nice view since I have special plans for my gf. Also I would like to go on LOTR tour, anyone can help me out with that? Im browsing the net for hours but am not sure of where to stay.
Help is appreciated, thanks guys!
The one thing above all others to see in New Zealand is nature. The scenery is breathtaking at every turn.
It then kinda follows that the place to stay at is not in a city, but rather in smaller villages set right in the middle or on the edges of National Parks.
My personal recommendations, in order of preference, would be:
- Lake Tekapo - a small village (~300 residents) at the edge of a huge glacier-fed lake by the same name. The color of the lake is a stunning blue beyond words, with the Southern Alps lining it along the far-edge. The first thing you'll notice in this place is the absolute silence. You can hear eternity there. If you climb the nearby Mt. John (1.5 hour one way), you can look all around the MacKenzie plain, having to share this landscape only with the sheep and the observatory placed on the same hill. The village has some great restaurants as well, with Pepe's pizzeria being my personal favorite, both for their blazing fire (probably not present in January, actually) and for the superb Carbonara Pizza, which I still long for daily.
Lots and lots of options for accommodation here; can't really recommend anything in particular though, as I always stayed at the fabulous YHA hostel, while I figure you're looking for something a little more fancy?
3.5 hours southwest of Christchurch, 3.5 hours north of Queenstown.
- Mt. Cook - The highest mountain of New Zealand, looming over you as you sit on the balcony of the Hermitage, the only hotel (though a large one, also owning various other forms of accommodation) in the small Mt. Cook Village, inside the Mt. Cook National Park. The one problem with this view is that it's rather rare. The days when low-hanging clouds obscure the mountain from view are rather more common. Still, even then, it's a beautiful place to be.
4 hours southwest from Christchurch, 3 hours north of Queenstown.
- Mahana Homestead, somewhere along the Queen Charlotte Track. This isn't a village, but just a single lodge along the Queen Charlotte Track, which follows the Queen Charlotte Sound. The scenery right outside the lodge is this stunning, there's lazy hammocks outside, free glowworms right behind the lodge at night, and the homecooked dinners are the best ever. (Hope for chocolate cake for dessert.)
You get there by water taxi from Picton (5 hours north of Christchurch, 3 hours west of Wellington by ferry), or by walking for two days from the start of the Queen Charlotte Track.
- Whakapapa Hotel. Whakapapa is a tiny resort village in Tongariro National Park. The most awesome hiking on the North Island is in Tongariro National Park, and Whakapapa is a great place to start.
4.5 hours south of Auckland, 4.5 hours north of Wellington.
- Franz Josef Glacier. I don't actually know any hotels with a view in the village here, but a mere ten minutes out, you arrive at lush rainforest leading up to the glacier. Absolutely stunning, even in wet weather (which sadly is almost as common here as at Mt. Cook).
5 hours west of Christchurch, 4.5 hours north of Queenstown
All that said, if you do absolutely want to stay at a city, then yes, Christchurch is probably the nicest of the lot in January. Make certain to be early with booking a punting trip over the Avon river, as those book up rather swiftly.
As for LotR tours, there's really only one worthwhile (IMO), namely the Hobbiton tour in Matamata (2 hours sourthwest of Auckland). Hobbiton is the only remaining actual LotR set, and you won't get to see those rolling green hills in any other way than by going on the tour (they're just not there when you're in the village itself).
The only other tour which I have heard good things about (though I didn't bother doing it myself) would be the one that takes you to the location of Edoras. I think this starts from Twizel (near Lake Tekapo and Mt. Cook), although I'm sure they offer day tours for that from Christchurch as well.
But really, for general LotR scenery: it's right there when you get out of the cities - literally all around you.
[ Edit: Edited on Oct 28, 2007, at 2:08 PM by Sander ]
We'll fly in from Santiago de Chile and will stay in NZ for 9 days, heading for Japan.
Could you guys suggest a hotel / hostel in Auckland please?
This is on arrival in NZ so we can do with a good nights sleep I recon. Wouldn't mind paying for 3star acco.
for the first 2 nights. Thanks !