I am finalizing details on my trip to NZ, which is coming up in 2 weeks and would appreciate insight and feedback in finalizing activities and details on my itinerary. This is what we have outlined for our 17 days in NZ:
Dec 15: Arrive 8am Auckland from NYC. Spend day leisurely to rest and recover from jetlag. Visit Sky Tower. Mt Eden? Restaurants recs in City Centre?
Dec 16: Drive to Coromandel Peninsula to see hot water beach and cathedral cove (in hindsight, I'm wondering if this is even worth it)
Dec 17: Drive to Rotorua
Dec 18: Rotorua - Waiotapu and ?? Could use suggestions on how to spend our afternoon
Dec 19: Drive to Whakapapa (base for Tongariro National Park) and half day of golf
Dec 20: Alpine Crossing Hike
Dec 21: Drive to Waitomo - black water rafting (is this worth the $$?) - Drive to Auckland
Dec 22: Fly to Nelson - Drive to Marahau
Dec 23: Abel Tasman National Park (water taxi, hike, kayak...do I need to book in advance?)
Dec 24: Drive to Punakaiki (pancake rocks)
Dec 25: Drive to glaciers
Dec 26: Glacier hike (Full day hike on Fox or ice explorer at Franz??..would like to see glacial blues)
Dec 27: Drive to Queenstown
Dec 28: Queenstown (return car rental - drive to glenorchy in the AM??)
Dec 29: Overnight Doubtful Sound Cruise (transport provided)
Dec 30: Return to Queenstown
Dec 31: Queenstown
Jan 1: Fly back to NYC
A few questions...
1. I think I might have allotted too much time in Rotorua. Other than waiotapu, what is the next must-see in the area? Not sure what to do with my afternoon after seeing waiotapu.
2. I am still trying to decide if the black labyrinth black water rafting tour is worth the $$. The fact that you said the glowworm cave was underwhelming is making me second guess myself
3. I have 2 FULL days in Queenstown...I have decided I want to do the shotover jet and gondola / luge, however, should I take the morning (before I return the car rental) to drive to glenorchy? or arrowtown? i am more interested in scenery and activities.
4. I still have not decided on whether it would be better to do Fox glacier vs franz josef. I have read that franz josef can only be accessed via heli hike. i don't mind paying the premium if it means an unforgettable experience and beautiful scenery. it seems based on what I've read and pictures that I've seen that franz josef has more "blue" ice, ice caves, ice crevasses, and more dramatic ice formation. However, I'm also wondering if perhaps I did the full day fox glacier hike, if I would be able to access similar. Any thoughts / ideas?
5. Weather - Current it seems to be mid 70s. by mid to late December, I'm sure it will be slightly warmer, but to me living in NYC, mid 70s could mean a lot of different things depending on humidity, cloudiness, etc. Also considering I will be going to Tongariro National Park and hiking the glaciers....I am guessing I will still need winter attire?
6. Any other recs on must-sees and must-dos and must-eats in those regions will be much appreciated!
Thanks in advance for feedback and advice!
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17 days in NZ - NI and SI - Would like feedback on finalizing itinerary