Just 3 short questions:
is 6 weeks long enough to travel north and south island NZ?
IF we do it by car is the hard to find places to set up camp? r would camper van be better? (keeping in mind we already have a car bought)
Is June & July good time for snow skiing? we are beginners and does anyone recommend any certain resorts that cater more for our level or does that matter?
[ Edit: Edited on 30-Apr-2009, at 01:15 by Pollie ]
Depends on your budget really. I've met loads of people who have spent months in Australia and only a month in NZ and they have all been gutted that they haven't done it the other way around. NZ has so much to offer in such a compact space, it's an amazing place to travel. It would be possible to do it in 6 weeks but I would recommend 8. South Island perks for me were Kaikoura, Mount cook, The Catlins, Fiordland & The Sounds, Fox & Franz Josef Glacier and in the North Island, Taupo & the Tongariro crossing, Napier, Raglan, Waitomo, The Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Islands & the Kauri forests - (which alot of people never visit and for me are one of the most amazing places).
NZ is set up for backpacking like no other country I've ever visited. Camping is abundant, you can camp for free at many places, DOC (Department Of Conservation) has the cheapest pay for camping but no showers generally, and there are loads of privately run campsites. Bear in mind that you will be arriving in winter and It will be bloody cold in many places in the South island, and not much warmer in the north. Depends how hardy you are. Personally I reckon if you have enough money to rent a camper you may as well stay in hostel dorms for$20-$25 per night and camp if you think its warm enough.
June / July would be perfect for skiing. Im not a skier but I know of Hamner springs, mount cook in the south. National park near Taupo in the north.
[ Edit: Edited on 30-Apr-2009, at 03:28 by eggman ]
Have a look on the magicbus or kiwiexperience web site to give you an idea of possible route for you to take. I did the south island in just over 2 weeks so think youll be fine and having a car means your not stuck to a specific route.
Skiing is good in the Tongariro National Park, Whakapap village is a good base or National Park Village. Both are about 1hr 30min from Taupo.
Campsites are everywhere
check out backpackercampervans.co.nz they are reliable and very cheap rental campervans.
Hi Pollie all the ski areas have beginner sections on the lower slopes and offer lessons & hire etc. It's not cheap (probably 80$ per day + rental)/
Queenstown has 4 within driving distance, Coronet Peak being the closest. My favs (a kiwi who has tried a few) are Cardrona on the road to Wanaka from Queenstown and the Mt. Ruapehu fields. June/July is early and there won't be a huge amount of snow but they have artificial snow machines so there's always coverage on trails. The roads to the fields are often pretty terrible and I wouldn't recommend driving a camper up to them but they all have shuttle systems set up so no worries there.
Good luck and as an aside I'd recommend car camping if I were to do it. Bring a tent and give yourself the option if it's not too cold