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March 2015 – Adventure Trip Planning – 2 Weeks in NZ

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I’m starting some very advanced planning for a March 2015 trip, with a focus on scenery and adventure. After going through quite a few options, I have (I believe!) narrowed it down to two options: Chile/Argentina and New Zealand. This post is all about New Zealand as an option for a 2 week trip: I will also post a Chile/Argentina option in the South America forum.

My main focus is great scenery and adventure opportunities. I also do like great food & wine, affordable luxury hotels/inns, and wildlife viewing, but those are much lesser points of interest on this particular trip. In terms of adventure, I like that New Zealand offers such a wide array of soft and extreme adventure options. I’m most interested in surfing, day hikes, kayaking, biking, and the possibility of skydiving. I don’t want to rush too much, but do want to get to a few key locations.

New Zealand is absolutely the place I most want to go next. I’ve been interested in going since the first Lord of the Rings movie came out. My main points of concern are that even with two weeks, I don’t have enough time to properly explore, and I will likely be at the mercy of bus/internal flights since I’m a New Yorker who has not driven much and driving on the left seems a bit hairy for me.

Keeping those things in mind, I’ve crafted a rough itinerary for 13 nights in New Zealand, nearly all on the South Island (some time on NI for surfing, which I’m a novice and the surf schools sound more plentiful there, plus the water will be warmer in March). I don’t have firm dates at all, but looked at when planes depart/arrive to get an optimal schedule together:

MONDAY – land in Auckland 5:45 AM (departed NYC Saturday afternoon via SF/LAX), flight to Queenstown, afternoon/night Queenstown

TUESDAY – Queenstown / Arrowtown / Central Otago(?), night Queenstown

WEDNESDAY – Queenstown bus/car to Te Anu, night Te Anu

THURSDAY – Milford Sound kayak/cruise, night Te Anu

FRIDAY – Day hike (Milford? Kepler?), night Te Anu

SATURDAY – back to Queenstown, time in Glenorchy (?), night Queenstown

SUNDAY – Bus from Queenstown to Wanaka, night Wanaka

MONDAY – Bus from Wanaka to Fox / Franz Josef Glacier, night Glaciers

TUESDAY – Glacier exploration, skydive?, night Glaciers

(this part I am fairly ok with, but then not sure how to work the rest in where I’d like to surf. Also not sure if it makes the most sense to go to Auckland or Wellington as the base)

WEDNESDAY – Glaciers to Hokitika/Arthur’s Pass, night Hokitika/Arthur’s Pass

THURSDAY – Hokitika/Arthur’s Pass to Christchurch, fly Wellington / Auckland, night Wellington / Auckland

FRIDAY – If Wellington: city exploration/Martinborough/Kaitoke (?), If Auckland: Waiheke Island (?)

SATURDAY – if Wellington: surfing in Lyall Bay, if Auckland: surfing (wherever surf school goes), night Wellington / Auckland

SUNDAY – if Wellington: fly home (via Auckland and SF/LAX) if Auckland: day in city, fly home (via SF/LAX), land NYC 10:00 PM Sunday

How does this itinerary look for the things I’d like to do, as well as keeping the rushing around to a minimum and relying on public transportation as much as possible?

Also, if anyone has been to both New Zealand and Chile/Argentina and wants to weigh in on both experiences, I would very much appreciate it.


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