Young 60's planning New Zealand Trip 2023

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1. Posted by brofra (Budding Member 2 posts) 12w Star this if you like it!

We are a couple in our early 60's planning a 2-3 month trip to New Zealand, we want to see as much of the natural beauty as possible, not too fussed about spending much time is cities.
We need some help as to where to start and which direction to go!
The idea is to start in Auckland and go north.....either hire a car or campervan. And then zigzag down the North to the South Island.
Does anyone have a route planner that does this with recommendations that are not overly touristy? Should we hire a campervan and have flexibility of where we stay/stop or is it easier in a car/SUV and stop in hostels/motels/hotels?
I've never planned such a long holiday before, but everyone says you need a lot of time to see and enjoy instead of just going through a tick list and moving on.

2. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2175 posts) 12w Star this if you like it!

Sounds like you've got a good plan so far. NZ is all about the landscape and not really the cities.

Figure on spending a bit more time on South Island than on North Island.

Auckland is about the only place that's busy or has traffic to worry about. If you're flying in long-haul I'd be tempted to plan a day or two in Auckland without a vehicle then fly to Christchurch or Queenstown to pick up a vehicle and begin the road trip from there. You're away from all the traffic and straight into the nice bits.

Unless you are planning over the Christmas holiday period I would be happy winging-it for accommodation. I think for 2 people a campervan ends up costing as much as car + motels, and I think a campervan trip gets a bit basic and tiresome after a while. There are more and more restrictions on freedom camping, so you end up paying to go on a site anyway; you have cold nights, and miss out on a lot of the opportunities to meet and talk to locals and other travellers. I've done a mix of hostels, motels and B&B during three long trips to the country; they're very geared up for tourism and the standard is good with a lot of choice. I'm a particular fan of Top 10 holiday parks for good value accom.

2-3 months sounds about right for a leisurely tour of stopping a couple of days in a place then moving on when you've had enough.

The "main" route of scenic stuff could be done as Christchurch - Lake Tekapo - Mount Cook - Queenstown - Te Anau - Milford Sound - backtrack to Queenstown - Wanaka & Mt Aspiring NP - Fox Glacier & Franz Josef Glacier - up the West Coast - Picton - Wellington - Napier (art deco) - Taupo - Rotorua - Mt Maunganui - Coromandel (Driving Creek railway!) - Auckland - Bay of Islands - backtrack to Auckland.

However this still misses various places, hence I've already been back twice to fill in gaps and still have things to see. Oamaru, Dunedin, the Catlins, Invercargill, Stewart Island, Doubtful Sound, Hamner Springs, Kaikoura, Blenheim wineries, Abel Tasman NP, Moeraki beach boulders, Mt Raupehu, New Plymouth and Taranaki, the military museum and the desert road, Gisborne, Hobbiton film sets, Whakatane and Ohope Beach, various local hot springs such as Waikite Valley near Taupo, Otorohanga and the gloworm caves at Waitomo, Rangitoto island. The Great Walks.

It's impossible to get the perfect route encompassing everything so I would suggest you meander with a rough plan and not stress about it; you're making a good choice as in my opinion NZ is the perfect place for car touring with variety at every turn.

The only place that springs to mind as overly touristy is Queenstown, which is a bit of a marmite love/hate place. Great setting amid the mountains and the lake; often full of kids partying. But I like the place if I can stay on the outskirts - last time we stayed at the Top Ten at Arthur's Point, which had walks up the Dart River within walking distance, town was a ten minute drive, and made a good quiet base for exploring the area. (Arrowtown, Glenorchy, Paradise, the Remarkables, hikes off the Glenorchy road.)

3. Posted by brofra (Budding Member 2 posts) 12w 1 Star this if you like it!

Thank you for your very detailed reply, it’s given me lots of food for research and very sound advice.

Post 4 was removed by a moderator
5. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2175 posts) 12w Star this if you like it!

You're welcome. Do come back with more questions as you look at your itinerary - there are a number of people on here with a lot of detailed knowledge about NZ.