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Kay2 Aug 1st, 2013 02:06 PM

2- and 3-day visits in NZ in January - really, that's all
I (50-yr-old female traveling solo) will make my third trip to New Zealand in January and could use some help in choosing wisely. Previous trips I was able to take 7-10 days vacation, but this trip I will have only 2 full days of tourist time before my meeting and 2-3 full days after my meeting (not counting travel days). The cost of someone else paying the airfare. So I will just be choosing two spots to visit for 2-3 days each.

My preferences are nature, native culture, architecture, and anything unique to a place. I prefer mountains and trees over beaches unless they have huge sand dunes or large, crashing surf. I do not care to go on a glacier or visit vineyards this trip.

Previous visits, I REALLY enjoyed:
Kapiti Island kiwi
Rotorua Maori shows, thermal features
Otago Peninsula penguins and albatross
Mt Cook Park view and hike
Te Anau caves glowworms and night/star boat trip

I enjoyed less:
Milford Sound cruise
Akaroa, dolphin cruise, Pohatu penquins
Towns: Auckland/Devonport, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin

I had some items highlighted in my travel book that I didn't get to on previous visits, but I also realized some pages are missing about both islands, so I could use some help on determining if some of the destinations listed below are my best options to choose from or if I am missing something.

kauri trees - Waipoua Forest Park or somewhere else?
sand dunes - Te Paki Reserve? Farewell Spit? impressive?
art deco architecture - Napier
glow worms - Waitomo caves? Dell north of Hokitika? As good as Te Anau?
mountain views/day hike - Arthur's Pass? somewhere around Queenstown? or somewhere on the west coast (besides walk/fly on glacier)?
penguins - Oamaru Blue Penguin colony? Compared to Penguin Place experience?
various wildlife - Steward Island? Not enough days?
I have to do some more research to find the west coast of SI info--I seem to remember rain forest?

I find this choosing two short stops more difficult than planning a long trip with flexibility with number of days and places to visit. Thanks for your thoughts.

Melnq8 Aug 1st, 2013 03:00 PM

Where is your meeting? The challenge of such a short trip is travel distance - where you'll be for your meeting will determine what you'll be able to fit into your limited time.

I really enjoyed Farewell Spit. Sand, seals, albatross and wind, yes, but I don't remember any dunes, although that may just be my poor memory. It's a full day trip from Collingwood, which takes some effort to get to.

The only glowworm dell I'm aware of in Hokitika is across the highway from the Shining Star Hotel, and it's certainly nothing to get excited about, but it is free and easy to reach. I can't compare it to Te Anau, but it's not nearly as impressive as Waitomo.

There are some lovely hikes at Arthur's Pass, Queenstown and along the West Coast. It's hiking nirvana. Lots of great hikes near the glaciers.

Again, I can't compare Penguin Place to Oamaru, but we rather enjoyed our evening at Oamaru, although I'm not sure I'd go out of my way for it.

Stewart Island has a lot on offer, mostly birds, walks and vast wilderness, but again it's not easy to get to and you'll want several days there if you go. Ulva Island alone is worth a full day.

West coast and rain forest....absolutely. It's unique in that the rainforest meets the sea and it's a temperate rainforest. The West Coast of NZ is one of my personal favorites.

victorbritts Aug 5th, 2013 03:33 AM

Your have not mention your meeting place. I would advice you to visit nearest place were your meeting is and also consider your like and dislikes.As going far is short period will tired you and you will not be enjoying your trip.

Kay2 Aug 5th, 2013 05:25 PM

Thanks for the opinions, Mel.
Maybe I'll be in the Southern Hemisphere when you are in Switzerland. I certainly enjoyed my recent week there in the mountains and the Engalin Valley.

I will look further into Farewell Spit. I had marked it before, but I put it low on the priority list.

I will mark the glowworm dell off my list. I thought it was minor.

I am looking for a good site or reference to read hiking trail descriptions. My preference is snow capped mountain views. My only walks in NZ have been the Hooker Valley Track and some climbs on the hills for views at Mt Cook; up the Routeburn Track to Key Summit enroute to Milford Sound; and various short walks such as to see the penguins. Before the previous trip I had found some descriptions of trails up on the pass, but I don't remember where.

Sorry to hear Omaru isn't worth going out of one's way. I made the trip from Christchurch to Dunedin just to go to Penguin Place etc. Worth it for me to see the little guys jumping out of the water and working their way home. If I decide I must have penguins, I guess it would mean the trip to Dunedin again.

I know it sounds odd to some, but I'm not trying to fill in days with just something convenient on this trip. I'm willing to go to a lot of effort to see something I think is special or worthwhile. I budgeted a full day to travel to/from my destinations within NZ to have 2 days at each destination and would try to arrange to fly into/out of close to where I want to visit. If nothing special fits, I will just go directly to/from work and not take vacation this time.

Melnq8 Aug 5th, 2013 06:13 PM

<I am looking for a good site or reference to read hiking trail descriptions>

The DOC is a fantastic resource for hiking trails in NZ.

<Sorry to hear Omaru isn't worth going out of one's way>

Take that with a grain of salt, just my opinion. If you're really into penguins, it could well be worthwhile for you.

Kay2 Aug 6th, 2013 01:08 PM

The doc site is great.

I can see why I marked the Pass area before--train, bus, and tour access; range of short and longer hikes. Last time I was considering a classic loop over the pass, down to the glacier and rainforest area, then over to Queenstown. Not time for that this trip, but a Christchurch-Pass-Christchurch trip might fit in.

Next I'll check out the areas accessible/closer to Queenstown. But I must avoid so much distraction from work just now.

Melnq8 Aug 6th, 2013 06:54 PM

<Next I'll check out the areas accessible/closer to Queenstown>

Don't miss Glenorchy, 40 minute drive from QT, but worlds away. Wonderful hikes in the area, fabulous mountain scenery - you might enjoy the Dart River Safari - transport included from QT.

Arrowtown is easy to do as a day trip as well - not my favorite place in NZ, but there are some nice hikes in addition to the Chinese settlement and tourist trap shops

Wanaka is a 90- minute drive from QT - plenty to do there too - you'd no doubt enjoy the incredible mountain scenery of Mt Aspiring Nat'l Park, which can be reached in about an hour from Wanaka - Rob Roy Glacier track is quite popular

And back to Oamaru - interesting architecture!

DerekS Aug 31st, 2013 01:46 AM


This link may be of use.
It gives an outline of possible trips, and explains the difference between guided walks and "do it yourself" trips. One word of advice - don't go on lengthy solo walks - there are horror stories of people getting into trouble doing that.

I got to this page following a link from your Stockholm trip - we are planning that for next year.

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