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wendy4413 Sep 28th, 2006 07:39 AM

14 days in February: please help
My daughter and her fiance are taking their first vacation together in New Zealand February 2-16. They have asked me to help them plan the trip. I have never been to NZ or Australia. We have been to Fiji and Tahiti. This trip will be fabulous but will also be a test of their relationship, as travel seems to be. They are in their early 20's, very physically fit, eager to see the natural beauty and desiring to meet real New Zealanders. I think they would love a trip and overnight on a farm. I would suggest they travel less and enjoy more but I am old. Could anyone offer a cookbook itinerary with as much detail as possible? I have read every post and see so many suggestions. They are on a budget of $4000 US excluding air fare. Would anyone be willing to play travel agent and plan a dream trip? They want to go to both islands but I hear that is too much and the South is the place not to miss. They want some adventure (but not speaking).
Thank you.

ALF Sep 28th, 2006 08:06 AM

They should hire a car and do a big driving loop on the S. Island:

Arthur's Pass
Punakaiki - Paparoa Natnl Park
Franz Josef - Fox Glaciers
Te Anau - Fiordland
Gore - Catlins
Dunedin - Otago Peninsula
Oamaru - Moeraki Beach
Twizel - Mt Cook Natnl Park

This is not extremely detailed, but it is enough to get them to places where they can explore the S. Island.

You could add a bigger loop by going further north to Kaiakoura, Marlboro and Abel Tasman Natnl Park. Alternatively, you could extend the loop furthe south by going to Invercargill and Stewart Island. Still, with only 14 days, you could do the above list and not feel terribly rushed.

If they want to meet 'real' New Zelanders, then they should periodically stay in B & Bs, many of which are on farms.

longhorn55 Sep 28th, 2006 11:06 AM

How about a 3-day guided walk on the Hollyford Track? We did this a few years ago and there were all ages in our group--20's to 60's. It's a great way to see the beauty of New Zealand and to spend time with the locals as the guides and the lodge hosts are all from New Zealand. (We had some great conversations with them during the hikes and over dinner.) Since your daughter and her fiance are physically fit and are eager to see the natural beauty of NZ, this sounds like a perfect fit for them.

wendy4413 Sep 28th, 2006 06:36 PM

THank you for the suggestions. I will relay them tomorrow. One friend of mine suggested that they fly from Auckland immediately to Queenstown and pick up their car there and travel around the SI and up to Auckland on the 16th, spend the night near the airport and fly home on the 17th. She felt that they could do a driving holiday on both islands. I just don't want them to feel too rushed and return not having felt like they had a vacation. What do you think?

mlgb Sep 28th, 2006 10:44 PM

I like the idea of immediately flying to Queenstown, doing the loop of the South Island, and flying back to Auckland the day before they leave. They don't have enough time to see much of the North Island. They could take a day trip to Devonport and see some of Auckland before they leave.

ALF Sep 29th, 2006 01:30 PM

Flying to Queenstown or Christchurch would be about the same, just starting the loop in a different place.

ElendilPickle Sep 29th, 2006 05:14 PM will give them an extensive list of all the hikes they can do.

Lee Ann

danp709 Sep 29th, 2006 06:25 PM

Dont fly straight to Queenstown unless they have had a couple of days stop on the way or ae flying business class. They will be exhausted and need a night, preferably two to get over jetlag. Ponsonby is the most fun part of town and there is a great backpackes there called Verandahs. I spent two months there last summer and loved it.

A farmlet near the airport is Pemberley. I have not stayed there but by chance met the really nice people who run it. The airport hotel area is awful.

mlgb Sep 30th, 2006 02:09 AM

They are going to have some jetlag the first day or two. Most flights from the US west coast get into Auckland so early, and you are tired anyways. Flying on to your destination the first day helps fill the day without requiring any driving or much other physical effort. You can just as easily sit on a veranda in Queenstown and look at the Remarkables to recover. I've done it on most of my trips and it works out well, as have others who have posted. If they have only 2 weeks I wouldn't spend much time in Auckland. It's nice enough for a big city but that isn't why most people go to NZ.

wlzmatilida Sep 30th, 2006 07:35 AM

Hi Wendy,

As you've never been to New Zealand before and are in the position of having to gather information and then relay it to them, and then relay their questions back....I'd suggest cutting out the "middleman" (that would be you) :) and steer them to a professional who can help plan their trip.

Go to the Official New Zealand Tourism site at:

Scroll down to the bottom where it says "Let Us Help You" and further down you'll see "Find a Kiwi Specialist Travel Agent". Just put your state in and voila!

Hope this is helpful!


Certified Kiwi Specialist

wendy4413 Sep 30th, 2006 12:54 PM

You are all very generous with your help. Thank you. As for me being the "middle man", both of these kids are working hard at their first jobs and have asked if I, who love the Internet, could do some research for them. As a retired researcher and therapist, I love to keep my finger in the mix. Thankfully, these two appreciate the help.
So far, this is the itinerary my daughter has come up with: to Queenstown on first
Plane, stay two nights (where???)
Franz Josef and Fox Glacier (stay one
night (where???)
Christchurch one night
Nelson/Marlbough one night
Wellington 2 nights
Hawk's Bay 1 night
Taupo 1 night
Rotorua 2 nights (has anyone stayed at
Sandi's B&B or other suggestions?)
Auckland 2 nights (leaving early second
Thank you for your input.

mlgb Sep 30th, 2006 05:22 PM

The itinerary will feel rushed but is not impossible. Some days you are suggesting 6 hours or so of driving. Although NZ looks like a small speck on the map it is really isn't and it takes longer to get between places on two-lane winding roads where every corner calls for you to pull over and take a photo. You can check the travel times on the NZ auto club website,

Personally, my recommendation if they like outdoorsy stuff is to spend more time on the South Island, slow down and maybe add in a farmstay and time for a few day hikes. I might end at Christchurch and catch an interisland flight to Rotorua. I would skip some the Hawke's Bay and Wellington leg of the trip (unless they are really eager to see Te Papa).

ElendilPickle Sep 30th, 2006 08:15 PM

We stayed at the Lake Plaza Hotel in Rotorua. The Polynesian Spa, Government Gardens, and downtown Rotorua are within easy walking distance.

Lee Ann

wendy4413 Oct 1st, 2006 09:49 AM

I have been receiving responses to the itinerary I posted which say that the trip is doable but rushed. One thing the kids don't want is to be running from place to place. Can anyone suggest what to leave out of the itinerary? Are they better off sticking to one island? Do they need to cut out Queensland and the Fjord areas? I know that you can't see it all. With 13 nights, has anyone felt that they had the perfect trip? Would you share your itinerary? We are feeling pressured to decide if they should book a flight to Queenstown or Christchurch (takes most of the first day in the country...arrive Auckland at 6AM, leave at 10 am and arrive Queenstown at 2:50 pm...then, get a car and go to where you will stay...Kind of overwhelming.

mlgb Oct 1st, 2006 04:01 PM

I don't understand why it is such a long flight time from Auckland to Queenstown unless there is a stopover in Christchurch? In that case they might as well get off in Christchurch and spend the first night there. It is an easy transfer from the Christchurch airport into town. An afternoon stroll in the Botanic Gardens, early dinner at Dux de Lux. They will want to wake up very early the next day, If they are up to driving they can head over Arthur's Pass and toward the west coast, overnight in Hokitika, or continue on to the glaciers if they are ambitious.

wendy4413 Oct 1st, 2006 08:03 PM

Yes, there is only one direct flight to Auckland that I found and it is too early to be sure they would clear customs and get baggage. So, the flight is to Christchurch and a layover of nearly two hours, some flights much more often, then the flight to Queenstown. I will look at the map and see if staying in Christchurch works. They were trying to avoid driving time inorder to cut the trip a bit. Everyone has been saying they will be too rushed. If only they had three weeks but they have to get back to work. Thanks for the suggestion.

wendy4413 Oct 1st, 2006 08:04 PM

Sorry, it is late....only one direct flight FROM Auckland to what I should have typed.

Stevan Oct 1st, 2006 09:07 PM

Dont bother staying in Taupo, just stop for a cup of tea and to see the Huka Falls just out of town. If they are fit and like the outdoors there is a great place that does river trips,kayaking, rafting. Think it is called Rangateiki River Valley Lodge. Nt expensive.

One night in Auckland to get over jetlag. Get car.
2 or 3 nights at River Valley Lodge.
Drive to Wellington, one night. Fly to Queenstown and spend rest of time in the central area of Otago ..Wanaka, Glenorchy, Clyde, Queenstown and work back to Christchurch. Fly back to Auckland & stay in r around Aucklanad but not near airport as it is a wasteland.

wendy4413 Oct 2nd, 2006 05:54 AM

Stevan: I had not even considered this area. Thank you for the interesting suggestion. Your itinerary would include two flights within country instead of one. Would they save a lot of time flying from Christchurch rather than driving back to Auckland? How would you see the daily trip proceeding in terms of what to see and do?

mlgb Oct 2nd, 2006 07:17 AM

They can also drive one way from Christchurch to Queenstown and fly back from there to Auckland.

Are you sure they can't clear customs in time for the direct flight? The airlines should be able to tell you.

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