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NZ advice please??

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific NZ advice please??

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1. Posted by gorgmo (Budding Member 21 posts) 6y


Im going to NZ 1st July to 15th (so just 2 weeks). Trying to plan a route however finding it quite difficult mainly because i have read better reviews for the south island but need to spend more time in the north as i have 2 friends who live there. One friend lives in Aukland and the other said he will meet Napier- ideally i want to spend 4-5 with them (in total), therefore leaving me 9-10 days to travel the rest of NZ.

I fly into Christchurch and fly out Aukland so it would make sense to see whatever i can south island and head up north. Looking at the travelling times between places they seem quite lengthy. I would love to go to queenstown but its approximately 7 hour drive from christchurch........ so means lots of time travelling.

If anyone can give advice as to how to where best to visit? Also how best is it to get around? If you think hiring a car- do you know any good car rentals? Also i will be there during the winter so will that effect the roads etc?? Is there any cheap NZ flight airlines which may be worth considering?

If anyone can give some advice i would appreciate it!! Thanks

2. Posted by Dodger (Inactive 875 posts) 6y

Phew, why would you do this?! I can't really recommend anything, since I can't even fathom trying to travel like that. But check out the fares here jetstar I just got an email from them showing $35 fares from Christchurch to Queenstown if you book now for flights into July. Also keep an eye on this website. Its for Air New Zealand and has their bargain flights. You need to check daily as the flights sell out really fast. Grabaseat

Look into relocation cars to get you up to Auckland from Christchurch. Search the car rental companys and then look on the sites for relocation. Sometimes they offer gas and free hire, ferry crossing. Depends how desperate they are to get the car back.

OK I guess if I thought about it with your time limits. Heres a few highlights of NZ

From Christchurch fly to Queenstown, ski a day, maybe jump out of a plane, or throw yourself off something, hopefully with a rope of some kind attached to you, and then fly back to Christchurch.

Take the train from Christchurch up to Arthers pass for a day trip and then back to Christchurch. Tranzalpine

Then either rent a car and haul ass up to Kaikoura to see the whales and swim with dolphins. Its an awesome experience. I think it was June when I went and there were both Whales and dolphins. And we're talking about swimming with pods of up to 400 dolphins! Its absolutely amazing.

I can't remember the exact times to drive, but I know Christchurch to Kaikoura you can do in a day. Next up to Pickton to catch the ferry to Wellington, maybe a 4-5 hour drive. try and get an over night ferry and you can sleep on the ferry, then spend a day looking around Wellington. The government seat has some great museums and tours, you could easily spend a couple of days here.

Next up to Taupo, big long drive, but it can be done in a day. Go jump out of plane, or hike the Tongeriro crossing. That will take a full day to do the crossing, and you'll probably want to rest up the next day, but shame to miss it. If you can get over at that time of year, weather could be an issue, but I think I did this in July too. There is also a road through what they call the desert on the way up from Wellington to Taupo that can be snowed in. Its usually cleared in a day, but if you got the timing wrong it could be a problem. This is also the north islands main ski field. Keep that in mind if you want to get another run in.

From Taupo over to Rotorua an hour away and the main thermal area of NZ. Take in the smells and bubbling mud and geezers at Hells gate

From here you could go over to Napier. Its kinda cute art deco housing and buildings, but really in winter, its pretty drab. So maybe have your friend meet you in Rotorua.

Then off to Auckland 4 hours away and go to the Kauri forests in the north.

have your friend in Auckland come with you for the trip to the Kauri forest that way killing two birds with one stone. Don't kill any Kiwi's though, they kinda get mad at ya if you do that. And it is quite possible to see Kiwis in the wild here.

3. Posted by KarinaBezz (Budding Member 11 posts) 6y

Nice post Dodger. That was very helpful, made me giggle too. Thought about writing travel guides??
Sorry OP I have no input! just wanted to say that.

4. Posted by Dodger (Inactive 875 posts) 6y

Quoting KarinaBezz

Nice post Dodger. That was very helpful, made me giggle too. Thought about writing travel guides??
Sorry OP I have no input! just wanted to say that.

Aww thanks! No Ive had a couple of things published. I enjoy writing, but I think if it was like a job, I'd dry up with writers block and be frustrated trying to produce to a deadline.

5. Posted by Cyberia (Travel Guru 1831 posts) 6y

gorgmo. Why are you going to NZ in the middle of their winter? Best to go Dec to Feb.

6. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4896 posts) 6y

Quoting Cyberia

Why are you going to NZ in the middle of their winter? Best to go Dec to Feb.

I rather disagree with this; New Zealand in winter is absolutely gorgeous, especially the mountainous regions (Southern Alps, Tongariro National Park). Definitely advised for people who like skiing, snowboarding, etc, but also just for people who love gorgeous scenery.

Quoting gorgmo

I fly into Christchurch and fly out Aukland so it would make sense to see whatever i can south island and head up north. Looking at the travelling times between places they seem quite lengthy. I would love to go to queenstown but its approximately 7 hour drive from christchurch........ so means lots of time travelling.

The Christchurch-Queenstown road is one of the most beautiful in New Zealand, passing over the MacKenzie plain, past Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki (with Mt. Cook village a 45 minute detour away, and a perfect spot for lunch at the Hermitage with view of Mt. Cook itself), over Lindis Pass and through Kawarau Gorge. Queenstown itself is rather boring in comparison, though of course it's a haven for adventure- and party-loving folks. :)

With two weeks, given your friends there, the itinerary I'd advice would be something like:
July 1: Explore Christchurch
July 2: Drive to Lake Tekapo (~3 hours). Hike up Mt. John for hot chocolate at the observatory cafe and 360 degree views of the Southern Alps and infinity. Stay the night, gazing over the beauty of the lake.
July 3: Drive to Queenstown with lunch at Mt. Cook. (~5 hours) Explore Queenstown.
July 4: Milford Sound daytrip. (Even if you're renting a car, do this by bus, as you'd only be suck behind them anyway, and it's a long day. If you feel you're rushing too much, stay in Queenstown for a relaxed day instead; also stay in Queenstown if you like adrenaline-filled activities and partying more than gorgeous scenery; you'll get plenty of the latter anyway.) :)
July 5: Drive to the glaciers (~6 hours) - be sure to stop for the waterfalls at Haast Pass.
July 6: Hike up to and around the glaciers. (I can recommend the Roberts Point track at Franz Josef glacier, which leads through gorgeous rainforest scenery)
July 7: Drive to Picton (~7 hours). This is a long drive, and will be longer because you'll want to stop frequently for the wonderful wild west coast scenery. If you can, time your trip so you'll be at Punakaiki at high tide, to see the blowholes perform.
July 8: Ferry to Wellington. Explore Wellington.
July 9: Drive to Napier (~5 hours). Stay there. If the Desert Highway (Highway 1) through Tongariro National Park is open (sometimes it closes due to heavy snowfall), and especially if it's there's no low-hanging clouds, drive that road via Turangi and Taupo to get to Napier instead of going there directly. It will add 2+ hours to the drive, but it's infinitely worth it for the view of the volcanoes covered with snow.
July 10: Stay in Napier.
July 11: Stay in Napier.
July 12: Drive to Rotorua (~3 hours). Visit Wai-o-tapu on the way.
July 13: Drive to Auckland (~3 hours). Explore Auckland.
July 14: Stay in Auckland.
July 15: Stay in Auckland.

You can do this entire trip with public transport in the form of InterCity busses (excepting the detour over the Desert Highway, and even that might be possible if there's an afternoon connection from Taupo to Napier), though it'd add about an hour to each day's travel time. I'd advice renting a car, though; the busses do frequently stop at the most gorgeous viewpoints for photo opportunities, but the pacing is better if you get to choose yourself.

The pacing of the entire trip is a bit off - too much rushing early on (usually I'd add more rest days there), and then a much slower pace on the North Island (with especially Napier being out of the way compared to the route I'd usually tell people to take), but I think this is quite doable.

Unlike Dodger, I wouldn't recommend attempting the Tongariro Crossing in winter. It is possible, but you'd almost certainly have to hike through snow, and the chances of catching a good day for it would be very low (and I'd really stay away from attempting it on a bad day). Given the visit to Napier, it'd be too much out of the way to really chance it, imo, but maybe worth keeping in mind if you're in Wellington and the weather predictions are extremely good.

At any point between Christchurch and Queenstown and between Queenstown and the glaciers, there's a small chance of road closures (mostly at the passes) due to snow. The chance is small enough (just a few days each winter) that I wouldn't let it affect the itinerary, but do be mentally prepared for being stuck somewhere for a day or two waiting for that to clear, or for just heading north from Christchurch instead.

7. Posted by bex76 (Moderator 3736 posts) 6y

Quoting Cyberia

gorgmo. Why are you going to NZ in the middle of their winter? Best to go Dec to Feb.

I disagree too. As Sander said, NZ in the winter is beautiful. Dec- Feb is school holidays in New Zealand so everywhere is busy and prices are higher, so probably not the best time to go. All accommodation would have to be booked well in advance, whereas in the winter availability is much better and prices are often lower.

I like Sander's suggested itinerary.

8. Posted by gorgmo (Budding Member 21 posts) 6y

Thanks for the replies!!

Not got much choice about when i could go NZ! Plus im english so abit of cold isnt going to harm me..... used to it!!

9. Posted by dilly5 (Budding Member 4 posts) 6y

Hey , im from NZ , (north island) there is loads to do and amazing things to see , car rental place is called "JUICE" good prices ,ok then head up , way up north to the point (Cape Reinga) , the beaches up here are some of the best i have ever seen , white white sand ....head over to" the bay of islands", again breath taking," whangarei harbour," stunning ,hit up wine region Gisborne Napier, go see the ancient Kauri tree's in the Waipoua Forest,.... north and south offer many different things , just get in you car and drive , you will see what i mean , have a great trip ....

10. Posted by Asfaloth (Budding Member 17 posts) 6y

As another Kiwi, I'm with Dilly5! Just rent a car and drive! Its the best way to see all the very 'Kiwi' towns which aren't dolled up for tourists (ie Queenstown, Wanaka etc.) Wellington is a pretty neat place if you're in to arts, live music, theatre and the like, I've lived there a couple of times.
We really only have one domestic airline (Jetstar or whatever they're calling themselves now don't do many routes at all), and given your time limit, buses will take too long. The trains don't go often or to useful places, and Napier is a bit out of the way too, four hours drive to the next reasonable sized town.

I also object to all the advice that July is the best time to be here. NZ isn't nearly as well equiped to deal with bad weather as the UK. A couple of Cm of snow will literally close a city down here, we don't have snow ploughs or salt supplies or anything like that, you basically just wait for it to melt. Anyway. Practicality aside, it is really only if you like winter that you come here in winter! The south island in all its icy glory is always portrayed as stunning, which it is, but it is also VERY touristy. The north island has lovely beaches, but it is basically too cold to swim this time of year. If you're in to bush walks and tramping and that, then pretty much anywhere has something.

I would recommend the Taupo, Rotorua etc excursion if you are in the north island, live volcanos are pretty neat! You never know, lake Ruapehu might spill over again :D (its a crater lake, and periodically fills up to the brim and bam, lahar over the highway! There is a pretty good warning system though).

Good luck with your trip.