New Zealand in 1 week - what is must see?

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1. Posted by steve25 (Budding Member 7 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Hi, been planning a 3 month trip to Australia (flying next week :)) and now thinking of trying to fit in a quick trip to NZ while we're there...probably only for about a week or ten days!?!

In that short amount of time what is must see? Seems like the cheapest flights are from Brisbane to Auckland so that's where we'd probably start from.....

Does anyone have any suggestions as we know very little about NZ?!


2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5492 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Although there's a lot of worthwhile things to see on the North Island, the very best things to see are on the South Island, and with that short a time, I would recommend against flying to Auckland.
Flying to Christchurch should be virtually identical in price, and makes for a much easier base to see things.

The shortest trip I've ever done in New Zealand was 8 days, and I'd recommend a variation of that:
day 1) Arrive in Christchurch, explore Christchurch.
day 2) Rent car, drive to Franz Josef glacier over Arthur's Pass (~6 hours, 7 with stops to gawk at beauty by the road (Arthur's Pass itself)).
day 3) explore Franz Josef Glacier, walk the glacier or fly over it in a helicopter if the weather is nice. Be certain to also view Peter's Pool, and if the weather isn't nice to take the time for a hike up to Robert's Point for awesome rainforest scenery. Maybe drive on to Fox glacier (30 minutes).
day 4) drive to Queenstown (~6 hours, 7 with stops to gawk at the beauty by the road (Thunder Falls e.a. in Haast Pass))
day 5) Explore Queenstown.
day 6) drive to Lake Tekapo (~4 hours), climb Mt. John (2-3 hours return) for 360 degree views of eternity and the Southern Alps. Eat carbonara pizza at Pepe's
day 7) drive to Christchurch (~4 hours), fly out.

Add one day: insert between 6 and 7, explore lake tekapo further, and drive back 1 hour to Mt. Cook Village for a lunch at the Hermitage and a walk up Hooker Valley to see Mt. Cook itself towering impressively over you.

Add one day: insert between 5 and 6, take bus (don't even think about driving yourself) to Milford Sound, do boat cruise there.

Add one day: insert between 1 and 2, do a daytrip up to Kaikoura (either self-driving or with a bus) to take a whale watching cruise there and do the peninsula walkway.

3. Posted by Sheri_Lynn (First Time Poster 1 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Why not drive to Milford Sound?

4. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5492 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Because the distance from Queenstown is far too large, and the road completely crowded with these big tourbuses, and you'd be utterly and utterly exhausted by the end of the day (you already are when going up and down by bus). Plus depending on the time of the year there's avalance risk, and since the busses mean that there'll be a few hundred other people at all the other roadside attractions anyway, you might just as well go with a bus so that you're certain not to miss any. :)

5. Posted by steve25 (Budding Member 7 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Thanks Sander!

This is fantastic. Had a look at your photos too and it looks amazing. Just wish we could go for longer. Maybe we'll have to arrange a long trip in the future!

We'll probably be going around the end of February. Will the weather be quite similar to Australia (east coast) or cooler?

Thanks for such a detailed plan!

It's been a great help!:)


6. Posted by Klytos (Budding Member 10 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Im going from Aus to NZ for a week / 10 day too . This is for Visa requirements etc - have found a Gold Coast to Christchurch return fair of 466Aus$ in mid march is this good value ? Its with Freedomair . Anyone know cheaper ?

Any help much apprieciated


7. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5492 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Quoting steve25

We'll probably be going around the end of February. Will the weather be quite similar to Australia (east coast) or cooler?

It'll be a bit cooler; think 25-30 degrees for christchurch, 20-25 for queenstown / lake tekapo (high up in the mountains). Of course that can vary a lot; the weather in New Zealand can really change from gorgeous to thunderstorms before you can say "where did all those clouds come from?" (make certain to always be prepared for this when in the mountains, as the thunderstorm might be hiding behind the next mountain), but those should be good averages.

Also, February will still be pretty much high season for the South Island. Arrange accomodation at least a week in advance, more than three if you want anything other than a regular dorm room. (So just call ahead or book online at your preferred backpacker network's website.)

Klytos: sounds pretty expensive to me. Might be the time of the year though. Try dropping in on a Student Flights or STA travel agency; those usually found me much better deals than I did on my own online (just by knowing when airlines like Emirates Air that I'd never have looked into myself were dumping tickets). Though I just found sale fares from christchurch to brisbane for pretty much the entire second half of March with VirginBlue for $64. Similar fares from Brisbane to Christchurch exist early in the month. Taxes are pretty high (wow, and then some; way higher than I remember), but if you can be flexible with the exact dates, you should be able to scoop this up for ~$300.

8. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5492 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Oh, one remark: whatever you do, try to avoid flying with JetStar. Treating customers as cattle like all these cheap airlines do is all good and well, but JetStar just goes too far with that in my opinion. (And I've heard a lot of people agree with that assessment.)

9. Posted by Flyin_Kiwi (Budding Member 13 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Jetstar is ok. Its a case of getting what you pay for. Virgin Blue don't fly between AU/NZ. Pacific Blue do :)


10. Posted by jeffp (Budding Member 15 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

I can recommend the Whale Watching - what a great experience, we also spotted a pod of Orca.

Milford Sound is also a truly stunning place but is a bit of a trek from Queenstown. If you do go, treat yourself to one of the small vessels that travel the sound, MV Friendship was good, much nicer than being on board a big boat. (Driving to Milford for me was a treat, the avalance zone, the Keas, the truly scary tunnel that slopes downward, streaming with water, and the view behind you when you come out of the tunnel Milford side.)

Arthur's Pass was cool, we stopped off at Castle Rock; a weird formation on a small hill, it was very interesting and most unusual.

The west coast road is fantastic.

Sander seems to have given you a good starting point for your own itinerary.

I've got a journal of the time my wife and I spent touring NZ which may be of help, lots of pics and so on.

Have a great trip.