14 Day Trip

Old Nov 28th, 2006, 08:23 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 12
14 Day Trip

My wife and I will be celebrating our 20th anniversary next October and are trying to plan a 14 day trip to New Zealand. We are planning now because I have to put in my vacation request by the end of this year. We are in our 50's and enjoy the outdoors and being in nature. Our desire is to spend most of our time outdoors and take a few short hikes. We live in a big city so we try to spend as little time as possible in cities when traveling avoiding crowds as much as possible. We, of course, want to see the main cities of New Zealand just not spend much time in them.

We want to rent a car for our whole trip so that we are on our own schedule. Since this may be our only chance to visit New Zealand we would like to visit both islands but have a few more days in the south. The following is our first attempt at arranging an itinerary and any advice would be greatly appreciated. If anyone has recommendations on accomodations we would appreciate it. We are thinking of making our own arrangements for where to stay. Does this seem sensible of should we handle it through a travel agent?

Auckland--a day to rest
Bay of Islands--a couple of days
Drive to Wellington stopping somewhere along the way
Ferry to Picton
Picton to Karikoura or Christchurch
Christchurch-overnight or a day or two
Christchurch to Dunedin
Dunedin to Queenstown
Queenstown--for several days
Drive to Christchurch
Christchurch--for a day and the flight home

We know that it's a lot of driving, but we do enjoy driving trips and we also like stopping in interesting areas for a few day to fully appreciate all that it has to offer. We like what the Bay of Islands seem to offers and seems a mellow way to start our trip. We would also like to settle some place in the south so we would interested in your opinions on where to set up for a few days where we can take day and half day trips. You folks are great and we thank you in advance for any help you can give us. Thank you.
RichMill is offline  
Old Nov 28th, 2006, 01:30 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,793
Hi Rich,

My first thought is you should spend all of your time on the South Island (as we did for 12 nights this past January.) But, JMHO.

My second thought is to skip Christchurch in the middle of your trip and travel down the west coast instead. We loved the glacier areas and there were many hikes available between the glaciers and Queenstown.

I would go Picton- Punakaiki- Glaciers- Wanaka/Queenstown- Te Anau- Dunedin- Christchurch.

Again, just my opinion. And I definitely think you could book accom yourselves with the help of this website.

Have fun planning!

Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Old Nov 28th, 2006, 03:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,957
I agree with Liz that you could easily spend all that time and more on the SI and still not see it all. I certainly understand your wanting to see both islands, but keep in mind that it takes a lot longer to get from point A to point B than you might think and it would be a crying shame to rush through a country as beautiful as NZ.

By all means, make your own reservations - there's absolutely no need to use a travel agent. The Internet is a wonderful resource and you can find everything you need online.

Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown are all cities (well, QT is really just a big town). You mentioned that you don't want to spend your time in ciites, yet it appears that's exactly what you're doing.

Nelson and QT would be my personal choices for where to camp out for a few days if you want to make day trips, as they're both close to a lot of attractions. Nelson is a nice city of about 50,000 and it's close to Abel Tasman, lots of wonderful wineries, Nelson Lakes National Park, Golden Bay, etc. It's also an arts and crafts mecca if that interests you. It would be a great base for exploring the north part of the SI, which is my personal favorite by the way.

Queenstown would make a similar good base further south, as it's close to Te Anau and Milford Sound, Glenorchy with it's great walks and the Dart River Safari, several wineries, bungy jumping, jet boating, and related adventure activities. It's also in a beautiful setting and not far from Cromwell and Wanaka.
Melnq8 is online now  
Old Nov 28th, 2006, 06:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,283
Hi Rich,

Congratulations on making it to 20 years of wedded bliss!

Since you mention that you live in a big city (although which one wasn't noted), I'm just going to assume that it's bigger than the ones you have on your itinerary, i.e., Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, and more on the size of Auckland....

While Wellington has one of the best museums I've ever seen, (Te Papa), in order to maximize your time and concentrate on nature & outdoors, I'd suggest dropping that from your itinerary and flying directly to the South Island.

Yes, you're correct, that IS alot of driving - if you had 3 weeks instead of 2 (and I'm not sure how you're "counting" - if that's 2 weeks total, or if travel time is factored in, which then drops you down to 12 actual travel days...)I'd say keep your itinerary, but since you don't you really need to maximize your travel / enjoyment time without running yourself ragged in the bargain.

Hope this is helpful!


Certified Kiwi Specialist

But the way time flys, the many stops that you're going to make and the fact that although NZ looks small and easily navigated (which it is); you can't really tell from a map how curvy the roads are, the one way traffic and the fact that you can be trapped behind a logging truck or a motorhome.
wlzmatilida is offline  
Old Dec 1st, 2006, 12:25 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 895
It can be best to rent a car before arrival (online) as cars are not always available otherwise. Travelling between islands, you park up, get the ferry across and pick up a car on the other side.

I liked Christchurch and Dunedin as well as Auckland. You can walk for miles and miles around these cities and often not see that many people. Queenstown was OK for a day but that was enough for me. Don't miss the small museum and boat at Picton, by the car hire booths.

You certainly don't need a travel agent. Lots of B&B about. Garages do a nice selection of hot pies, handy when walking or driving. Try the "local dish" fish and chips. Excellent.
kaneda is offline  
Old Dec 4th, 2006, 01:59 PM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3,254
RichMill: Congrats on your 20th anniversary trip...we are going to New Zealand in February to celebrate our 25th and our interests sound very similar to yours!

We decided to spend our 2 weeks in February on the southern half of the south island this time. We want to get a more in-depth look at things.

Our first trip to New Zealand was over 20 years ago. We too thought it would be our only trip to NZ and wanted to try to see everything. So we went zinging around, spending 1 night in each place, and saw parts of the north and south island, parts of both coasts. However I always regretted the pacing of that trip. Many places we went I can't remember AT ALL...basically I wasn't there long enough to form a lasting impression! A few experiences did stand out as memories of a lifetime, but again because we were there only one night it felt like fleeting glimpses. I saw a clear view of Mt. Cook at the end of the day after a long drive, and was stunned and awed by the silence (no tour buses, they had all left.) But we had to leave early the next morning for the next long drive so I ddidn't get to stay and enjoy a hike around my gorgeous silent mountain.

I also vividly remember our Milford sound boat cruise. Wow!

My advice is don't give in to the temptation to feel like you must see everything and can't miss anything. Instead, read your guidebooks, read trip reports, ask questions, and narrow down your choices to a few areas which you can really see in-depth, where you can see the big attraction there and also have time to get off the beaten path in the areas you have chosen, and have time to linger over an interesting long chat with a local...

So I recommend you choose either the north or south island. With just 2 weeks (that is the same time frame that we have) that is enough time to see just half of one of the islands. So we chose the southern half of the south island.

Whatever you decide I know you will have a beautiful 20th anniversary trip! Enjoy!
Melissa5 is offline  
Old Dec 5th, 2006, 05:53 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 14
Hi Rich:

Like others, I suggest you stick to the south island for that length of time. There is so much to discover, and given that you enjoy the outdoors, it's the perfect spot to focus your trip. Consider a trek along the Queen Charlotte track for a rewarding hike with fabulous views and great inns to stay at along the way.
No need to use a travel agent; everything is easily booked online. We stayed last year in all your places of interest so can answer in detail any more questions you have about them.

renforth1 is offline  
Old Dec 10th, 2006, 01:01 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 18,541
To consider is that October is an "unsettled" weather month which can mean your planned activities (eg whale watching trips) may be cancelled. You might want to have a few open nights to allow for slips in schedule. I don't think you need to worry much about bookings other than "Labor Weekend", I hope someone else will be able to give the dates for 07. I was in Kaikoura a few weeks ago and there were no trips for two days due to heavy seas.
mlgb is offline  
Old Dec 11th, 2006, 07:12 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 12

My wife and I would love to talk with you more in depth about your trip especially since we have similar interests. We are taking your advice and keeping our trip to the south island. What way would you feel most comfortable in having us contact you? We could put our mailing address here and then share email addresses that way. If you would rather not we fully understand. Thanks for your advice.

Richard & Millie Anderson
RichMill is offline  
Old Jan 12th, 2007, 12:31 AM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3,254
Richard and Millie, I just "returned" to this travel board after a break for the Christmas holidays. Just found your note to me.

Sure, I'd love to chat about NZ by e-mail and will post a trip report upon our return...look for my trip report towards the end of February 2007. My e-mail is [email protected] . Please put "New Zealand fodorite anniversary" in the subject line...this helps me weed out the junk mail.

I must now frantically begin the count-down til our trip begins...this is when I begin panicking even after lots of detailed planning. But we always love our trips!
Melissa5 is offline  
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