Me and my mate are travelling to NZ at the start of April for 3 weeks. Any advice for what to do in the limited time? We fly in and out of Christchurch.
Am well up for whale watching, treking and glacier walking...is it worth trying to make it up to the North Island...I've heard the North East coastline is beautiful.
for whalewatching i've heard great things about kaikoura, which is north of christchurch. seals, whales and dolphins are plentiful apparently.
as for glacier walking, try the west coast of the south island with places like fox glacier, and franz josef glaciers.
if ur going to go all the way up to the top of the north island, i've heard great things about the bay of islands.
hope that helps and have a great trip
Hey... I've done NZ for 2 months (a few months ago this was) and mostly loved it. I don't really have any complaints as it was a beautiful place to visit. Ended up buying a car out there for the stay and sucesfully sold it at the end for just $100 less than purchased.
South Island was definatly a highlight for me because there was so much to do from all the whale watching, bungy jumping, skiing, jet boating, etc that you can do... all good stuff. North island was also very nice and parts were quite beautiful but getting around was more challenging because it's bigger but the roads are generally windier and narrower and thus slower.
Christchurch is nice but I had to spend 2 weeks there and got sick of it. Queenstown is definatly key if you wanted to do lots of things like above mentioned. Depends what you want to do really. Post back if you want more info.
Three weeks isn't a long time for New Zealand, but you can still see a lot in that time.
If you are going in and out of Christchurch then Kaikoura (as mentioned above) is definitely the place to go for Whales and dolphins etc.
If you want beaches and don't want to miss out on Glaciers, then I suggest you continue from Kaikoura to Nelson and visit the Abel Tasman region. The beaches there are lovely and in April should also be fairly peaceful.
Then, head down the West Coast and visit Franz Joesef and Fox Glaciers. Continue on through Haast to Queenstown and Wanaka where you will find mountains and lakes that will please anyone... oh and lots of adventure activities.
Hope this helps you plan your trip. Visit New Zealand Focus for more advice and information.
thanks alot for all your help - that's given me lots of ideas!!
Another quick question-
What's the bus/train service like? is it easy enough to get to all the places mentioned above by public transport.
I know there are these buz oz pases but they seem quite expensive???
Check out www.magicbus.co.nz
Our aupair used them and found them pretty good for getting around. Their site has all the necessary information.
It depends on where you are coming from as regards relative expense. I think NZ is reasonable compared to travelling around Europe. Petrol etc.
Yes you must go to the Abel Tasman Nelson region. Really it is the best place in the whole country.
re bus passes - there are 3 national companies, and all who I met who did them thought they were at least OK - Kiwi Experience (the boozy one) Magic Bus (the sensible and a bit cheaper one) and stray (the slightly more outdoorsy one). I did stray a bit of the time and generally found it pretty good.
It is usually more expensive to use intercity etc though they do a national pass-type-thing as well. Use them if you don't want to meet other backpackers!
Whale watching is okay but it isn't that exciting to be honest. It's probably just about worth doing - it just wasn't one of my highlights of NZ. If you go to Kaikoura you can get a flying lesson though, which is totally class. I'd also recommend a glacier hike, and maybe a sky-dive or canoeing at Abel Tasman.
If you're there for three weeks then I'd probably just stick to the South Island and save the North Island for another day.
Take loads of cash though, cos the best thing about NZ for me was all the activities, so it worked out quite expensive overall (but totally worth it).
When I was there the Inercity Coach Pass was much cheaper than Kiwi/Magic/Stray (and also more flexible, i.e more routes, more departure times, never seemed to be fully booked). As an example, a two island pass through Intercity was something like NZ$450 versus something like NZ$750 through Kiwi/Magic/Stray. I did the Kiwi Experience and IMO it was overpriced for what you got, and not very flexible (often fully booked a couple of days in advance and follows a set-route).
On the south island there are also lots of smaller independent coach companies which you can use which do selective routes, e.g. Christchurch to Kaikoura, and also drop off and pick up from hostels, and this way would probably work out the cheapest by far.
Whichever way you travel though you're guaranteed to meet other backpackers. You do meet backpackers on the Kiwi bus/Stray/Magic, but you meet just as many backpackers by staying in hostels/doing tours, etc.
Also, I wouldn't go along with Magic reputation for being sensible. I met quite a few people from the Magic Bus and they were just as boozy as the Kiwi lot (if not more so).
It's true, three weeks is a tight schedule but you can see a lot of this wonderful country in that time.
My wife and I spent three weeks touring NZ a year ago in a camper van and loved it so much.
The North does have much to offer, we spent some time in the Coromandel area, which is beautiful. Also, if your Lord of the Rings fan you can visit the Hobbiton set in Matamata, which was actually well worth it.
Kiakoura is 'the' place to go for whale watchin. we were also very lucky to see a pod of Orca (apparently they turn up very infrequently).
Queenstown is a great little town, a bit touristy, but there's so much to do there. The whitewater rafting in Skipper Canyon was fantastic and well worth doing even if your a little scared.
Have a great trip.
You can read my New Zeland journal here...
Can i ask, what rental company did you go with - and how much did it cost? Also, what were the fuel prices? My and my Girlfriend are going to NZ in October 05 for 4 weeks hoping to hire out a campervan.