COVID-19 Travel Advisory: Stay up to date with the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.   Learn More >

18 days in New Zealand - Advise

Old Oct 7th, 2015, 06:33 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 5
18 days in New Zealand - Advise

My future hubby and I want to spend 3 weeks in New Zealand. We will be coming from the East Coast of the US so we realize that we are going to loose a fair number of days in travel. I am thinking it was leave us with about 18 days on the ground.
What time of year is the best to travel?? I have heard Feb/March?
What are the MUST see places?
What the must do's?
We want a good mix of relaxing time and adventure! We also want to really experience New Zealand and everything it has to offer!
We are very interested in doing the following:
Glacier hike/tour
Any suggestions on best places to do the above items?
Best transportation method?
Thanks so much for your help!!
Lilmot24 is offline  
Old Oct 7th, 2015, 12:12 PM
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 631
We are not travel agents to plan it all for you!
All of New Zealand is beautiful so you will need to choose what are your `must sees'.
Rotorua and Queenstown are the tourist hot spots but there is much more to NZ than those two places.
Glaciers are on the West Coast of the South Island. Kayaking would be good anywhere in our beautiful beaches and lakes.
Sky diving ? Queenstown probably but not an activity I have ever done.
Mid February would be good - avoid arrving on Waitangi Weekend 6- 8 Feb 2016 as it is a holiday weekend for all of NZ and also Chinese New Year so there are a lot of tourists from China here. Queenstown is apparently booked up completely for that time.
Your budget will determine what transport you use.
tasmangirl is offline  
Old Oct 7th, 2015, 12:48 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 53,476
there are some very good trip reports here - the one by indiancouple of their trip to NZ is particularly good. here's a link:

there are quite a few others too, and ordinary guide books can be quite helpful too.

another good place to find out where tour operators take people - if you look at a few brochures you can get an idea of some of what there is to see and how easy it is to get around. [though most tours move more quickly than independent travellers like to].

when you've got a few ideas, do come back and try them out on us!
annhig is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2015, 06:23 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 5
Tasmangirl - I understand that. haha I just didnt know if people have suggestions of better places to do certain things. We are completely open to anything and everything so I was just looking for favorites of other people. Your response was what I was looking for!! I would have never known about the Holiday to avoid in Feb. and we do not mind visiting a few tourist places but we are looking for less 'crowds' and more of the 'real' New Zealand.

annhig - Thank you!! I will look into this link and be back with a better idea of what are plan is and see if I can get more input from there!!
Lilmot24 is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2015, 06:31 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,060
I have a slightly different take on the best time to visit NZ - I don't enjoy warm weather or lots of people, so I tend to avoid the summer high seasons.

I love NZ in the shoulder seasons - particularly September (which can be quite chilly), but also following Easter, when most of the tourists have returned from whence they came, prices have dropped, and yet the weather is still settled.

Are you interested in one island or both?
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2015, 09:38 AM
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 631
No need to avoid NZ in February - it will be busier than normal over that weekend so bookings are a good idea.
Mid Feb to March is ideal and the kids and uni students have all gone back to school.
I like the Coromandel Peninsula area for beaches and scenery - google Cathedral Cave and Hot Water Beach. In the South Island I'd pick the Nelson area to visit. Abel Tasman National Park is beautiful and you could kayak there.
As for transport - the self contained campervan is good but it is more expensive and slower to drive. Renting a car gives you freedom and are you comfortable with driving on the left? Pay a bit more to leave is somewhere else rather than be locked into driving it back to where you started.
AA maps give accurate distances on driving times between places. Google is not to be relied on.
2 weeks for the South Island and 1 for the North work out well - so you could see a lot in 18 days.
Fly into Auckland, see some upper North Island on the way to Rotorua, fly from there to Christchurch. In Christchurch you can go north or south in a loop of the SI. Jetstar now flies to more cities so it's a cheaper option. From Queenstown you can fly back to Auckland for about $79 which is very cheap and much easier.
tasmangirl is offline  
Old Oct 22nd, 2015, 04:53 PM
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 3
Feb/March is good, coming to the end of summer so a little quieter though most places are still warm. Best weather is December through February.

Just some places worth checking out, based on the priorities you listed:

Franz Josef is a bit nicer than Fox, in my opinion (the town I mean)

Kayaking - spending some time in the Bay of Islands would be a good idea for this kind of thing, it's north from Auckland but well worth it for the activities and the heritage (this is where the first European NZ settlements were) -
You can also skydive there.

All around the Nelson/Abel Tasman region is great for kayaking too.

For skydiving/adventure stuff obviously Queenstown is the most popular spot, but you can do skydiving anywhere near most of the main centres.
nztravelsecrets is offline  
Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 03:29 AM
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 158
Hi Lilmot24

Hubby and I were in South NZ over 7 years ago in Jul/Aug and loved it (it was my 1st visit and my husbands 3rd).
We hired a car and drove Christchurch - Fox Glacier - Queenstown - Dunedin - Hamner Springs - Christchurch (14 days).
We're not into snow days days) sports but some of things we did and loved include:
- Heli tour on Fox Glacier - this was simply amazing and we would recommend if its a clear day. The drive from Christchurch, via Arthurs Pass was awesome - it started snowing on the drive and I felt like a kid again (it's only the 2nd time I've seen snow)
- Visiting the thermal springs at Hanmer Springs.
- Dunedin was my favourite place (it may have something to do with the Cadbury chocolate factory there). We visited a gorgeous castle on a cliff and did a bud tour of the city.

Next time we head to NZ we're keen to check out the north and visit some of the wineries.

Have fun planning.
rellie2 is offline  
Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 03:30 AM
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 158
One more thing we did was a day trip to Milford Sound from Queenstown and would also recommend it. Such beautiful scenery in NZ.
rellie2 is offline  
Old Nov 3rd, 2015, 01:22 AM
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 14
Hi Lilmot24...

We got some tremendous advise and help from the lovely folks here for our Dec trip to the South Island..

You can check out our itinerary here -

A few other sites that I found very helpful are -

After ALL the reading, I concluded that the best way to enjoy this wonderful place is to plan your enty / exit points and dates and then go with the flow if you are doing self drive!
Indiewanderers is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Australia & the Pacific
Apr 16th, 2017 01:13 AM
Australia & the Pacific
Sep 29th, 2015 11:15 PM
Australia & the Pacific
Aug 14th, 2012 06:50 PM
Australia & the Pacific
Jul 16th, 2009 11:17 AM
Australia & the Pacific
Dec 15th, 2004 10:13 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information