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South Island NZ honeymoon - 10 day Itinerary help pls???

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Dear All,

My husband and I are planning to visit South island on our honeymoon from 24th Dec to 3rd Jan 2015 During Christmas and new Year.

We will be reaching Auckland on 24th and need help to build a good Itinerary from the experts here which will include a relaxing and rejuvenated holiday / honeymoon for us :). We do not want to do extensive travelling but want to cover the best of South island.

Any help / suggestions are much appreciated. Our Itinerary looks like this so far

Day 1 (Dec 24th) - Arrive Auckland in noon. Relax in the eve with a nice dinner

Day 2 (Dec 25th) - fly to Chch in the noon or stay in Auckland to celebrate Christmas???

Day 3,4, 5 (Dec 26-28) -Stay and explore Chch ?? (suggestions of places in Chch OR shud we cover nearby places)

Day 6 (Dec 29th) - Drive to Queenstown via lake Tekapo

Day 6,7, 8 (Dec 29-31) - Stay and see nearby places in Queenstown ??? (Fox Glacier ???)

How is New Year celebration in Queenstown, should we stay in Qstwn for NY eve or leave for Chch ???

Day 9 (Jan 1st) - leave for Chch

Day 10 (Jan 2nd ) - Leave for Auckland from Chch

Day 11 ( jan 3rd ) - Morning flight from Auckland back to Blr.

I have been reading and following up the blogs here but I am really confused now as to what should be the best for us to plan and see in south island. We are more keen on relaxing and enjoying the beauty around rather than only travelling all 10 days. I just want this time to be the best and most memorable for both of us,

Appreciate any help and suggestions!!!

Also to add- both of us are vegetarians so any suggestions on good restaurants will be most welcome in any of these places.

Thankyou all in advance!

AG

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    What's 'best' depends on your particular interests.

    Your proposed itinerary focuses on cities, and IMO the best of NZ is well outside the cities. To me, NZ is all about scenery...unspoiled countryside, mountains, lakes, the coast, etc.

    NZ is one of those places that's quite difficult to see w/o doing a fair bit of moving around, as the natural wonders are quite spread out.

    For example, Fox Glacier isn't near Queenstown, it's a six hour drive away.

    Having said that, if you don't want to move around much, Queenstown makes a good base as it has a lot on offer and you can do several day trips w/o too much driving. Arrowtown is about 30 minutes from QT, Glenorchy is about 40 minutes, Wanaka is about 90 minutes. Milford Sound is four hours away, but many people take a bus from QT to Milford for the day (or take the bus one way and fly back). Doubtful Sound is also a popular day trip from QT - a long day, but a day just the same.

    If you're not interested in staying in QT, which can be quite busy and touristy, you might consider a lodge or resort on the outskirts, yet within easy reach of the attractions of QT.

    There are some lovely luxury accommodation options in NZ. If you're looking to splash out, relax and soak up the scenery you might like this place, conveniently located in Glenorchy, near Queenstown:

    http://www.blanketbay.com/

    Here's another lovely option, but it's up north in the Marlborough Sounds. We've been here a few times and loved it. Great place to spend one's honeymoon I'd think.

    http://bayofmanycoves.co.nz/

    NZ is a great place for vegetarians, you'll be spoiled for choice.

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    Christmas Day there will not be very much open in the way of shops anywhere in New Zealand. Maybe some restaurants but most will be closed. This is peak season for New Zealanders to go on holiday as a lot of businesses close down from Christmas Eve until Jan 5th at least. My business doesn't re-open until January 14th. Schools close from the week before Christmas until early February.

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    Dear All,

    This is what my itinerary looks like after all the feedback and research--

    23-Dec Blr to Auckland

    24-Dec Auckland -- 1N Stay (Hotel Option ---Kiwi International Hotel) ???
    Question - Where shud we stay in Auckland for one night. We dont want to spend too much but also want a place where they will serve Breakfast and closer to the good restaurants.

    25-Dec Chch -- 1 N stay (Hotel Option -- Cranford Cottages and Motel)??? Any suggestions on another hotel / motel / B&B welcome.

    26-Dec Drive ChCh - Punakaiki -- 1 N stay hostel --http://www.punakaikibeachhostel.co.nz/accommodation/
    I checked for accommodation in Punakaiki but there is hardly anything available due to Christmas and New year time. Should we directly go to Fox glacier or still consider Punakaiki. Is it worth staying there ??

    Dec 27- 28 Drive Punakaiki - Fox Glacier ( via Greymouth and Franz Joseph) -- -- 2 N Hotel suggestion ???

    Dec 29 , 30, 31 Drive -- Fox glacier to Queenstown -- 3 N Grand Mercure / Oaks Club resort ??? Cover Milford sound (a day trip)

    1-Jan Drive Queenstown to Chch (via Lake Tekapo ) --
    Here can you suggest if we should directly fly to Auckland from Queenstown to save time and cover coromandel or go via Chch. Which route will be more economic??

    2-Jan Auckland -- Would like to go to Coromandel

    3-Jan Fly back

    I ahve few more question - :)
    1) Can you also suggest how much will be our daily expense on food (vegetarian)

    2) How much approximate should we budget for car rental. Is it daily rate or rate / mile. Any suggestions on good car rental service in south island.

    3) Looking at our Itinerary I see that we will be travelling for almost 16+ hours when i checked in map from ChCh to Queenstown, in realistic scenario can you suggest if this will be too tiring.

    4) Which route is more spectacular - ChCH to Queentown (Via lake Tekapo )
    OR
    ChCh to Queenstown (Via Fox Glacier)


    I know this is like a ocean of questions and queries. Any Suggestions, advice will be much appreciated.

    Thanks a ton in advance!!!

    AG

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    I just got back from NZ on Monday and had stayed at Kiwi International for 2 days in Auckland, two separate stays, first night single room with ensuite bath, second night was rugby night and I was only able to get single room with shared bath. This is a very basic hotel. Facility is a bit worn out but relatively clean. The heater in neither of the rooms I stayed at worked, but you are going in December, so that won't matter. I didn't eat their breakfast (early departures), however there are lots of Asian restaurants around the hotel (I am a vegetarian also), your typical takeaway type (not sure what you mean by "good restaurants"). The location is not exactly right in the center of things and it's on the top of the hill, but to me it was a nice walk to/from Sky City and Auckland Domain. I didn't try to walk from the Ferry Building. The bus stops for the airport and to the zoo are fairly close by. People at the reception are very helpful if you need any information.
    Being vegetarian, your options for nice meals will be limited, since their specialties seem to be lamb, beef, and some seafood. I did end up eating a few Chinese takeaway meals, but going shopping at local supermarkets helped a lot (bread, salads, cheese). Food expenses definitely higher than what you would spend in the U.S. (not sure if you've been here before), since they pay living wages in NZ.

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    My husband and I explored the South Island for 14 days 2 years ago. We flew into Christchurch from Sydney and immediately hopped on a plane to Queenstown where we rented a car. That flight was only $135 and it was well worth it. It was a suggestion from Fodor to do that rather than do all that driving. So essentially we flew south and drove our way back up north. We had a midsize and it was $800 for our time there (that was picking it up in Queenstown and returning it in Christchurch. We also spent about $250 in fuel.

    As for food, we are omnivores and our food expenses came out to $700 for the 2 weeks we were there. Many times we would have a big breakfast, pick up a mid afternoon snack, and indulged for supper.

    We spent 2 nights at Fox Glacier and unfortunately the weather was rainy so we never got to explore the glaciers. There wasn't a whole lot to do around there when you can't hit the glacier. We ended up doing a four wheeling excursion.

    Queenstown was nice, but busy and touristy. There were a lot of excursions to do there. We bungee jumped, took a wine tour, and did the speed boat thing. Te Anau was our favorite part of our trip because it's a little off the beaten path. Regardless, all of NZ was absolutely amazing and I can't wait till I can go back again!

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    Chch to QT via fox and via lake tekapo are both beautiful. Last time I drove QT to Chch it was a 7hr drive and I'm used to driving on NZ roads.

    Coromandel day trip on jan 2... Unlikely... 3hrs each way (3.5 to coromandel township) at the busiest time of the year. Jan 2 is a public holiday in NZ too but it is a Friday so it won't be too bad ( compared to jan 4 which would be busier with all of the holiday traffic returning to Auckland to go back to work on the 5th).

    Punakaiki to glaciers will be a long drive if you've already driven from Chch. You could stay in grey mouth or hokatika for more options.

    Car hire. Day rate, expect to pay plenty for petrol approx $2.20 a litre and you'd be looking to drive about 4-5000km if doing a Chch round trip via Milford sound / QT.

    Hmm flying QT to akl will likely be more economical but you will miss out on lake tekapo. You need more than one day to do coromandel. (I have done coromandel day trips but they are a long day for me and I spent the first 30yrs of my life holidaying all through there). The coromandel will be packed at that time of the year too... Whangamata and mt mounganui are big areas for nye NZ style...

    If you go to a restaurant for dinner plan for the main to be $20-35, sides 6-10, dessert 10-15, alcohol 5-10, soda 3.-5. There are cheaper options like Thai, Indian, burgers etc and they will all have vegetarian options - if you shared a vege curry it would be about 18-22 + some rice! Thai similar. Something like subway for lunch will set you back 5-10pp . Plan 10pp for lunch and you should have change most days unless you have a crazy appetite.

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    Hi Arps,

    We are from Bangalore as well, but planning to go in Sep for 12 days including travel.

    Your itineary sounded close to mine, so just wanted to check , if you further finalized your itineary. Pls do share your thoughts.

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    I would stay in Auckland on Christmas Day, because there will be more open than in Christchurch. Also, if you get a good summer's day (i.e no rain) then you do quite a bit on foot strolling around the water front and the like. If you rent a car for the day, even better, because you could do a few short drives. I'd recommend the West Coast beaches - Karekare, Piha, Muriwai and Bethalls. All stunning locations and within an hours' drive of the CBD. All the big hotels will do Christmas lunches/dinners too, so you won't be short of places to eat.

    With the South Island part of your trip, just be mindful that around New Years the resort towns do pack up with young people celebrating NY eve. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but if you're after a tranquil few days, I'd imagine places like Wanaka and Queenstown will be party central.

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